International Eucharistic Congress

by Sr. Mary Josephine Crowe, O.Carm.

 It was a wonderful privilege for us to attend the 50th International Eucharistic Congress in Dublin in June this year. It took place in Ballsbridge, a suburb of Dublin named after one of our Lord Mayors, Bartholomew Ball, who died in 1568. His wife Blessed Margaret Ball, one of the Irish Martyrs was arrested by her own son (also Lord Mayor of Dublin) in approximately 1580 for sheltering priests in her home, she died of cold and neglect after several years in a wet dungeon in Dublin castle. Before her death she had forgiven her son.
My father who was raised in Ballsbridge had wonderful memories of the International Eucharistic Congress in Ireland in 1932, and spoke with great pride about how Count John McCormack the famous Irish tenor sang Panus Angelicus with such reverence and faith, so it was really a great honor when Sister Mary Donovan O. Carm asked me to give testimony to my journey into Religious life with The Carmelite Sisters for The Aged and Infirm at the International Eucharistic Congress in Dublin in 2012.
As you are aware from our Web Site the Carmelite Sisters for The Aged and Infirm care for the elderly, our senior people who need care. We run 19 homes for the elderly in the United States and one in Ireland at Our Lady’s Manor, Dalkey. There we have 118 beds, where senior people who need assisted living or skilled nursing care, and people convalescing after hospital admission are cared for. It is challenging but great work. With long term care you have the privilege of getting to know each Resident very well, to witness their courage in trying to cope with illness, loneliness, failing health, and simply not being able to do all the daily things I would take for granted, like being able to leave the dining room or chapel as and when you want, having to ask for and then patiently wait for assistance. You see how the Residents watch out for and care for one another, making room at the table in the coffee shop, never leaving anyone out of the conversation. ‘Thank you’ are words I hear often for all the little things as I think that is what I am here for. You are often stopped for a little conversation, a joke or for example a compliment about your new white shoes!! Bringing Holy Communion to the Residents bolsters my faith, old men with severe memory loss immediately remove their caps and repeat ‘Lord I am not worthy…’, retired Sisters with difficulty walking and cognitive impairment join the hymn and have the words of all the verses, a worried great grand-mother asks you to pray for her great grand-son age 19 years who is back packing in India and doing a six week retreat in a Buddhist Temple on his own, and then tell you they are praying for you.   
Six Sisters along with a very dedicated Staff care for all the Residents. At the beginning of the day the Sisters come together for Morning Prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, and then we have breakfast together. We are on the floor in the Nursing Home for 8.00 AM. Holy Mass is at 10 AM following which we help the Residents to the Coffee Shop, bring Holy Communion to those Residents who would like to but are unable to come to Mass in the Chapel, and return to our individual work for example rounds with the doctors, seeing the Residents who have any problems e.g. health problems, helping a Resident with their computer e.g. to access to the internet, hosting a discussion group, Bingo or a Music Appreciation session, serving lunch in the Dining Room etc. We meet for lunch at 1.20 PM. After the day is over we meet again for evening prayer and Rosary, and we enjoy supper together and a chat about the day, news of family and current events. One or two of the Sisters will be available to talk with the Resident’s family members or help the staff with any problems for an hour or two in the evening and the other Sisters are free to walk, read or spend some time with The Lord.
It is a wonderful life, so if you feel that God may be calling you to the consecrated life caring for our senior people, don’t ignore God’s Call, look into it, ask about it, contact us and come and see if it is for you. 

Sr. Mary Josephine & Sr. Mary Donovan at Eucharistic Vocation Stand

Sr. Mary Josephine Crowe, O.Carm
Sr. Mary, Sr. Mary Josephine, Sr. Therese Suzanne

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