The last few weeks have been very challenging for us all. We are living in a time of uncertainty and our lifestyles have been dramatically turned upside down due to the COVID-19 situation. We are starting to truly appreciate the things that only a week ago we took for granted such as going to the cinema or gathering with friends and family to enjoy a barbecue.
It is a time that we want to look to role models for inspiration and I found myself looking to the story of the foundress of the Sisters of Charity – Venerable Mary Aikenhead.
I think that Mary would really relate to what we are going through today. She was very familiar with sickness and death on a large scale. When the cholera epidemic hit Ireland around St Patrick’s Day in 1832, the Sisters of Charity in Dublin and Cork worked heroically among the victims of the disease. They opened a small, temporary hospital in Ringsend Dublin as well as ministering to the existing fever hospital in Grangegorman. Cholera was a greatly feared epidemic disease in the nineteenth century and it has been estimated the 25 378 people passed away in Ireland during this epidemic.
I am sure that the Sisters experienced anxiety as each day they put themselves at risk, much like our health professionals today. The Sisters were very under-resourced as they tried to care for people in unhygienic conditions. Mary Aikenhead’s strength came from her unfaltering commitment to Jesus Christ, expressed in the motto that she chose for the Sisters “The love of Christ urges us on” and we too can draw strength from Christ’s love.
In her book “Friend of the Poor Mark Aikenhead: Woman of Vision, Commitment and Inspiration” Rosaleen Crossan RSC writes
Mary’s life teaches us to have faith in God and in ourselves; to dream courageous visions; to reach outward and away from preoccupations; to have compassion for human pain and brokenness; to analyse structures which are the cause of poverty; to work with others to solve problems; and to remain resolute in the face of hardship.
In the face of our current hardships here at MSM, I would like to acknowledge my dedicated staff. The health and well-being of your daughters and facilitating their ongoing learning is our priority. Our teachers are facing significant challenges – they are teaching full time, marking assessment, preparing for the first phase of Year 12 confirmation processes and working on further developing on-line materials in preparation for delivering Learning at Home through TEAMS. They also have their own families that need their love, care and support. I sincerely thank our staff for everything that you do!
I would like to thank parents and caregivers for your patience, understanding and support as together we navigate our way through the ever-changing circumstances.
We pray for governments and health systems as they try to manage the COVID-19 situation. We also hold in our prayers people who are unwell, receiving medical treatment or recovering from illness.
God’s blessings to all.