Centenary Commemoration of Salesian Sisters in Ireland

Commemoration of the Centenary of the Arrival of the Salesian Sisters in Ireland, Sunday, 11th of Setpember, 2022, St. Michael’s Church, Kildysart

Centenary time…

The past few years have been a time replete with special centenary celebrations.  During the period of the lockdown while we may not have had the opportunity to celebrate some of these great occasions on the exact date, it did afford us in many instances more time to be able to explore, research, think, to reflect on the impact and importance of what was being commemorated.

Salesian Sisters Centenary

Today, two years on we mark the centenary of the arrival in Ireland of the Salesian Sisters.  We also mark the 150th anniversary of the founding of the Sisters, formerly the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians.  They were founded in 1872 at Mornese in Italy by St. John Bosco and St. Mary Mazzarello.   Heartiest congratulations to the Sisters on those to very significant and important landmarks and milestones!

Founding Ideals

Research indicates that the Sisters, like their male counterparts, followed Don Bosco’s norms for education: reason, religion, and amiability and the employment of all that is humanly useful in character formation – academic studies, manual skills, work, clubs and athletic games.

In the past 102 years since coming to Ireland, the sisters have made such a difference to many communities in the area of faith, education, youth ministry and pastoral outreach.   Here in Killaloe diocese they have had a huge impact, both in this parish of Kildysart and in Brosna, Kilcolman or Coolderry parish in Co. Offaly.

School in Cahercon

The school in Cahercon was very much at the heart of life in Kildysart.  This was the case back in the time of Columbans and subsequently from the 1960’s with the Salesian presence.  This was achieved in terms of education, services being utilised, employment given and so many normal human and religious interactions with the sisters, the associated clergy and people in the community here.

Many still fondly remember the Sunday Club, the outreach of the sisters to Traveller families, their general kindly, prayerful presence in the place.

It is good to see that important legacy and the continuing presence of the Salesians in the school here, which is now a Community College, but still value and strongly maintain the ethos of Dom Bosco in so many ways.

The kindness of the Sisters to the community is marked today in material terms by the recent renovation to the seats here in the aisle of St. Michael’s Church, the proceeds of a generous donation.

First Association and experience of Salesians

While we were students in Maynooth and having Salesian Colleagues studying alongside us, occasionally visiting the Salesian House in Maynooth and the Salesian College in Celbridge, I have a keen interest in the spirituality of St. John Bosco, the founder of the Salesians, formerly the Society of St. Francis de Sales (SDB’s).

  • His passionate love of the faith, the Gospel and Jesus Christ.
  • Being on fire with a desire to serve Young People, particularly the poor and underprivileged and share the faith with them.
  • The influence of the saintly and evangelical St. Francis de Sales.

In doing research at one stage for a small visual presentation I noted the interesting development of the 4 significant pillars or spaces of Salesian Spirituality:

  • The feel of a home
  • The learning energy of a school
  • The relaxation of a playground
  • The spirituality of a Church

Centenary Logo

I love the centenary logo with the three legged stool of:

  • Celebration
  • Gratitude
  • Hope

Celebration, Gratitude, Hope

Today we gather for this great day of commemoration and do that exactly.  We celebrate the gift that the presence of the Salesians have been to us in Ireland for the past 100 years and here for over half that.  We are here in gratitude and thankfulness for all they have done for the Gospel values they have brought to so many.  Finally we pray in hope that the great legacy of all that will continue for many generations to come.

St. John Bosco, pray for us!

St. Mary Mazzarello!

Mary, help of Christians, pray for us!