March 12, 2014

Memories of MIC years: Mary Hanrahan rsm (1997-2001)

The excitement of being invited to go to the other side of the world in November 1996 for an interview was huge and I will never forget travelling down Baggot St and spotting ahead for the very first time “No 64a” and Catherine standing there outside welcoming all! My heart nearly exploded and tears were very close! What a privilege it was to be asked to take up the position of Director and to be there for four years.

The following June I left Aotearoa New Zealand not really knowing what was ahead and how the experience would affect the rest of my life . First was the wonderful welcome I received from the Team of 1997 and the great support of the MIC Board. I was encouraged to spend time visiting Mercy Houses around Ireland, getting to know the country and the legacy Catherine and generations of Sisters had left behind. How I appreciated each one of the fantastic Sisters from around the world who made up the Team over the next four years, and all the Volunteers who came for shorter periods to help.

l-r: Mary Hanrahan rsm, Agnes Lumby rsm
Sr Mary (back) with Team

The implementation of the three-fold Vision of the Centre was our task and with much enthusiasm we welcomed many Mercy Sisters from around the globe. Visitors and Mercy friends called upon us, some did the Tour of the Centre, or stayed and followed Programmes or made Retreats; with enthusiasm we brought to them the story of Catherine’s House and her Mission around the world. It was good too that, as Catherine would have wished, the poor and needy knew they also were welcome at the door and many were the cups of tea given to these callers.

Signage in place at MICThe heritage plaque

Early in my time I recall going to a Board meeting and getting great support for having the name of the Centre written above the Front Door for I had been told by some visitors that the place was hard to find! Just four years later the heritage Plaque on the front of the building was installed marking the building and Catherine as being part of Irish heritage.

A great venture of this time, spearheaded by Sr Nancy Whitley, was raising funds for the restoration of the Organ in the Chapel and she seemed to have useful contacts just everywhere! Eventually the restoration was completed, the organ came to life again, and a wonderful Re-dedication Concert took place. Then followed the lunchtime concerts and the visiting professional organists.


The restored Telford organ in the Chapel
nameplate visible above keys

Sr Nancy with the plaque listing the Benefactors
of the organ project

The annual Catherine McAuley Lecture was introduced too and the then President of Ireland, Mary McAleese, accepted our invitation to be guest speaker. Another event of note that comes to mind was the return of Catherine McAuley’s Profession Ring to the MIC archives.

President Mary McAleese giving
inaugural Catherine McAuley lecture 1998
 Agnes Hannon rsm (Northern Prov) hands
Catherine's ring to Dervilla Byrne rsm
(Congregational Leader) for entrusting to MIC

Of course there were other moments too! When the dining room floor began to flood (attributed to the proximity of the Canal!), our willing Team decided after much discussion, that accommodation and breakfast must still be provided ………… but one floor up in the Front Parlour! So from the kitchen all food was brought up and afterwards all dishes were taken downstairs to be washed and this situation continued for several months! Our wonderful Team along with Volunteers kept the House going for some months.

And then we had to prepare for the new Millennium and we wondered whether everything would continue to work. We had the experts in to check us out …… but I do recall testing and re-testing the lift early in the morning of 1 January 2000, just in case!

May Catherine’s House, now our Mercy International Centre, continue for a long time yet to be a place of inspiration, a place from which many will draw upon Catherine’s spirit, inspiring, enabling and encouraging them to bring hope and joy to the needy of today’s world.

Messages to: Mary Hanrahan rsm

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