“They will seek to touch the poverty within, the inner needs of the human heart”

On Thursday 15 August 2013 at 7.30pm, Cardinal Timothy Dolan presided at Mass, celebrated by Bishop Michael Smith, in St Mary’s Parish, Drogheda to inaugurate the mission of four New York religious sisters who have set up a new convent in Ireland.

Earlier this month, four members of the Franciscan Sisters of the Renewal left their convent in the Bronx, New York to set up this missionary outreach in the Diocese of Meath.

Bishop Michael Smith had, on a previous occasion, informed Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York, that the Sisters of Mercy were leaving St Mary’s Parish in Drogheda, having served there since 1854. Cardinal Dolan, who was educated by Irish Sisters of Mercy in Ballwin, Missouri, requested the new religious community – the Franciscan Sisters of the Renewal – to make their home in St Mary’s Parish, Drogheda.

The sisters are Sr Jacinta Pollard, Sr Monica Ward, Sr Veronica Cowan and Sr Kelly Francis.

The following is an excerpt from the homily of Bishop Michael Smith at the Mass:

“It is recorded that, when the Sisters of Mercy came to Drogheda in 1854, they were asked to care for the sick and educate the poor in a town where many had been denied education and great social deprivation existed. The Sisters did that, not just in Drogheda but worldwide, over the generations. They have completed the work they were asked to do.

“The Franciscan Sisters of the Renewal have come to the Diocese of Meath with a different mission. They will not be teaching in schools or working in hospitals. Their focus will be to bring a consciousness of God’s love to the poor and neglected, visiting the sick, walking with the homeless, feeding the needy. They will seek to touch the poverty within, the inner needs of the human heart, with the compassion of Christ.”

Cardinal Dolan described the arrival of the Sisters in Drogheda as his way of returning his thanks to the people of Drogheda for the great work and service of the Sisters of Mercy in his native Diocese of St Louis.

Joining Cardinal Dolan and Bishop Smith was Bishop Denis Nulty, recently ordained Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin. Bishop Nulty served until last month as Parish Priest of St Mary’s Parish, Drogheda and paved the way for the new convent in Drogheda. This was his first return visit to Drogheda since his Episcopal Ordination in Carlow on 4 August 2013.   In his homily, Bishop Nulty reflected on the Anniversary of the adoration chapel and the newly dedicated convent of St Colette as “bookends for the beautiful St Mary’s church.”  Click here for the full text of Bishop Nulty’s homily.