On September 22, 2018, the Servant Sisters of the Home of the Mother founded a new community in Mitchelstown, a town in Southern Ireland in the diocese of Cloyne.
Nine sisters, the Roscommon community and the four sisters of the new community, arrived at Mitchelstown the day before the feast of the Most Holy Name of the Blessed Virgin Mary (September 12). “May Mary’s name be on our lips and in our hearts. May She grant us victory!” We spent a week working intensely on the house: painting, assembling furniture and decorating. We also met some of the parishioners and neighbors, who welcomed us warmly and generously.
On Thursday, September 20, Father Rafael and Mother Ana arrived for the opening of the new community. They stayed until Tuesday. What a weekend full of blessings! On September 22, we visited Bishop John Magee, the former bishop of Cloyne. Before being a bishop, he had been the secretary of three popes: Paul VI, John Paul I and John Paul II. Bishop Magee received us affectionately, told us stories of his life with the Popes. He then let us venerate a precious relic: one of St. John Paul II’s cassocks, which the Pope had wanted Bishop Magee to have. The visit was an immense gift for all of us.
The Mass to inaugurate the new community took place at 7 p.m. at Immaculate Conception’s Parish. It is the parish where we will be collaborating in whatever may be necessary. Fr. Michael Fitzgerald, the parish priest, received us very happily and invited everyone to come to this special Mass to welcome us. Before Mass began, Bishop William Crean paid us a visit to spend the afternoon with Fr. Rafael and the Servant Brothers and Sisters, and—why not?—have a cup of tea like a good Irishman. We spent about two hours with him before setting off to the parish for Mass.
It was a very beautiful Mass. Bishop Crean presided, and several priests concelebrated. In his homily, the Bishop spoke about the Home’s charism, and about setting Ireland ablaze with the fire of Jesus Christ. Many people from the diocese and friends from far away came to welcome us. Several religious sisters also attended the event and assured us their prayers. We are very thankful. After Mass, there were tea and cookies for everyone at a center near our house, where we were able to become acquainted with people and sang to Our Blessed Mother.
The next day, September 23, we went to Mallow, a town thirty minutes away from Mitchelstown, for the foundation of a new community of Servant Brothers. Once again, Bishop William Crean celebrated the Mass, this time at St. Mary’s Parish and followed by a reception. The opening of these two communities is the cause of a great hope for the Bishop. His desire is that we may bring the freshness of Jesus Christ and His Church to the people’s hearts.
To finish off this gift filled weekend, on September 24 we went to Knock, a shrine in honor of Our Lady, built where she appeared in 1879. We spent the day with Our Blessed Mother, thanked Her for everything, and entrusted ourselves to Her in order to be faithful to Her plans.
May Mary enlighten our hearts in order that we may continually shine upon others with the Light that radiates from the Cross of Christ!