Ireland - Dublin 10 - Convent Lawns: Our history, our mission

1998 was such an eventful time for Sisters Agnes, Phil and myself, Eilis. We were asked each in turn if we would like to go to Ballyfermot, to Convent Lawns, a new Housing Estate built by Dublin City Council. All three said yes with joy, we had each experienced life in Ballyfermot as second-year novices, our first taste of mission on the district. Never having lived in community with each other of course we said yes, such a grace to be offered such a fertile ground.

This was a new project and, working with Dublin City Council, we engaged in programmes aimed at building an open and honest community among people who, before, had experienced difficul-ties with neighbours. 
 
As part of our new Estate we had a purpose-built community centre and in our eyes it was such a joy to have. We worked together and Sr Phil did so much to teach the children to cook wholesome and nourishing meals and of course brown bread! Children are always eager to learn and long to use their talents. 
 
Part of our mission in those early days in Convent Lawns was our involvement in the home help service. Sr Eilis along with her group of dedicated workers provided much needed home support to the elderly, infirm and handicapped. As the years passed this function was taken over by other groups funded by the local authority. Sr Eilis was, in fact, the last Little Sister to run a home help service in Ireland. Later on, she took up the role of archivist for the Anglo Celtic Province and has recently initiated a digitisation programme which will make historical items relating to the Province more accessible 
 
As we grow older we live in the reality of doing mission differently and can smile inwardly at the passage in Jn 21:18. Now we live as community as ‘neighbour’ in a larger community as ’presence’ while our work is less ’out front’ our charism is still centrally relevant as we try to be neighbour. We have been given the grace to live in close proximity to the ’ordinariness’ of everyday life but in a special way. A way in which we have developed relationships with families is by supporting them in all kinds of small but significant ways and allowing ourselves being supported at the same time. 
 
One way in which we tried to fulfil the aspiration in Acts 2:42 was the development and nurturing of our ’companions’ programme, gathering a small group of neighbours and friends in monthly meetings that focus on prayer, spiritual reading and sharing of simple food which is usually brought by different members of the group on each occasion. Likewise the reading and prayers are chosen and led by group members, this deepens the diversity and richness of the way the Holy Spirit can work in our midst. 
Some of our companions have said: "The Little Sisters looked after us and our families in the past and now it’s our turn" and, while there is some element of role reversal, a greater degree of mutuality has entered into all our relationships. 
 
In the last few years we have celebrated Passover by organising a "Seder" meal during the early part of Holy Week. We have done this both here in Convent Lawns and with the Mount Argus community in their house, where we brought together our companions, neighbours and Sisters from surrounding houses.
 
Sadly over the past two years we lost two of our friends and companions. Both loved our charism and lived it themselves in different ways: Carole, a caring mother, grandmother and neighbour, and Simon, a gifted artist and a Companion of long standing. May they rest in peace.
 
Sr Eilis
21/07/2015
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