October 01, 2018

Booterstown Celebrates 180 Years of Mercy Presence

Early photo of Booterstown Convent

On Sunday 23rd September 2018 the Booterstown community in South Dublin marked the 180th anniversary of its foundation. St. Anne's Convent of Mercy was opened on the 26th July 1838 by Catherine Mc Auley.

In "Leaves from the Annals of the Sisters of Mercy" there is a succinct account of the beginnings. Mrs Barbara Versechoyle, a charitable local lady, was anxious that the Sisters of Mercy come to Booterstown to help the needy in the area. Through her influence The Right Hon. Sidney Herbert gave ground for a convent and schools and assumed a large share of the expense.

Catherine also had another motive in acceding to the request. She longed for a place by the sea where her sick sisters could go to recuperate. Her nephew James Macauley who was dying lived in Booterstown and Catherine and the sisters nursed him until his death.

In a letter dated 30th July 1840 Catherine wrote to Sr.M. Frances Warde "All the delicate flock are in Booterstown except my poor Sr. Teresa (Carton) who clings to her charitable employment"

Our day began with Mass, celebrated by Fr. Michael Collins, a nephew of Sr.Geraldine. Sr. Colette always reminded us that Catherine Mc Auley called Booterstown her "Seventh Joy" and in honour of that we had seven beautiful sunflowers in front of the altar. For the Gospel and homily Fr. Michael chose the story of the Raising of the widow's son at Naim. He linked it with some thought-provoking questions for our lives today.

"Like Jesus, do we open with compassion to our neighbours and bring to life what seems lifeless?"

"In our vulnerability, can our hearts have hope in the transforming power of Jesus?"

"Can we gather in community like the friends and neighbours of the widow gathered around her?"

After Mass we gathered for lunch and this certainly was a wonderful community event in its preparation and enjoyment. The best china and silver came out of hiding and the dining room was decorated with flower and candles. We enjoyed the delicious meal with our guests, our local priests, Sr. Breda O'Reilly from the Mercy Sisters in Perth, Australia, and Sr. Cait O' Dwyer a member of our new congregational team.

Our dream is that the founding spirit of Catherine Mc Auley, her courage, her confidence in providence, her kindness and her outreach to all, will always pervade our house.

Editor: As part of their 180th celebrations, the community supported the visit by the 6th grade pupils from the primary school to Mercy International Centre on Wednesday, 26 September.

Messages to the Booterstown Community c/- Teresa Anne Nagle rsm

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