The Irish Associates - IRS Province

The IRS - Irish Associates

Armagh group

There are ten Associates in Armagh. Some are past Staff members of our schools here, three are in fact on the Staff of Mount St. Catherine’s Primary School, and one Associate is a secretary in St. Catherine’s College. Our youngest member had a baby girl some months ago, so though we have missed her at our meetings, we are glad that mother and baby are doing well. With AMASC some of our group went to Joigny and to visit the Church of St. Francois Xavier in Paris, a few years ago. It was a truly memorable occasion.

All our Associates are busy people, many helping with grand-children, others engaged in their parishes. We meet on the first Thursday of each month of the 'academic' year. During our time together we catch up with news, we share prayer, and enjoy some refreshments together.

Recently we had two very thought provoking meetings on aspects of Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation in connection with the forthcoming meeting of RSCJ in Manila on those themes.

Dunlaoghaire group

Being an Associate of the Society of the Sacred Heart is for us a way of life, as we endeavour to live out its charism of discovering the love of the Heart of Jesus. We are privileged to be part of the Sacred Heart family. We support one another in times of anxiety, worry, bereavement, illness, joys and celebratory occasions. At our monthly meetings, often prepared by one of us, we have a time of silent prayer before the Blessed Sacrament. This is followed by reflection and discussion on Scripture, Liturgical themes, Society letters etc. There is open and trustful sharing which is both inspirational and challenging, encouraging us to live out our commitment as Associates, by revealing God’s love where we are in the world.

We are 11 Associates in the Dun Laoghaire Group, many of us for the past 18 years. We made our first commitment in 2000, the millennium year and renew this commitment each year on the Feast of the Sacred Heart. Another group are now following the journey of preparation to become Associates.

We share a common mission with the sisters of making known the love of God through our various Pastoral Ministries, such as volunteers in Hospice, with St Vincent de Paul, with Diocesan Deanery, with the bereaved, care of the elderly and of sick relatives and through our care for each other.

Our RSCJ links reflect with us from time to time on our aims as Associates, enshrined in our handbook for associates. The original handbook was updated some years ago.

We meet with Mount Anville Associates twice a year, before Christmas for Mass and a celebration for the upcoming Feast and on the Feast of the Sacred Heart, when we renew our yearly commitment.

Mount Anville evening Group

We are eight in our group – all women now and young in heart though not in years. Each one, though retired is involved one way or another in the service of others.  When we meet together each month, it is to deepen spirituality.  It also deepens the friendship between us. We start with prayer and this year we have mostly used the reflections on Philippine for this year of prayer.  Other times at the big moments of the Liturgical year, we have used a passage from the Gospel.  Our prayer is usually followed by some input related to it and leads into sharing or discussion.  Members of the group may share how life has been for them and they value the quiet time together, the discovery of new ways of  understanding a passage from Scripture and a new openness in the Church.  They appreciate being with others who want to explore these things together and to listen to different points of view.  Our meetings always conclude with a cup of tea and a very enjoyable chat. 

During Advent, we celebrate Mass together with the other Dublin groups, followed by a Christmas party and in June Associates and RSCJ celebrate the Feast of the Sacred Heart together.  The Associates renew their commitment, following the RSCJ’s renewal of their Vows.  At the beginning of Lent this year we had a day’s retreat together.

Mount Anville Afternoon group

Our group of Associates at Mount Anville were formed in Year 2000, and grew out of a prayer group which had been meeting weekly for many years in the convent with Sr. Angela Delaney. 

We have had some changes in personnel over the years but still have about the same number of Associates. 

Our monthly meeting usually takes the form of prayer, music, discussion and some bible study (mainly the gospels for the forthcoming Sundays). One year we studied the women in the Bible. During tea we catch up on any congregational and personal news.

Some years we have gone on pilgrimage within Ireland and have had retreat days.

We also have a celebration of Mass with the Sisters for Feast of Sacred Heart at which we renew our commitment.  Before Christmas we meet with the other Dublin Associates, have Mass, usually followed by a party and some musical contributions.  

When our co-ordinator Sr. Carmel has gone to Africa we have had a monetary collection to assist the ministries of the RSCJ there. Some of the Associates have also made some volunteering visits to Africa with her.

associates smiles

Additonally:  Over the years, this group have had some interesting excursions:  Once to Glendalough in Wicklow - an early Christian monastic settlement, founded in the 6th Century by St. Kevin. Sr. Rita Kinch, now with the Lord, was very interested in Celtic Spirituality and at our next meeting, she had pictures of all the Irish Saints sitting on the chairs, leading to a very lively discussion.  We visited Armagh in 2015, The Year of Mercy declared by Pope Francis and made our pilgrimage through the Holy Door there.  Sr. Carmel Flynn  took us on a walking tour of the town, which included the site of first Sacred Heart School which Mother Croft and 5 sisters opened in 1851.  We also visited St Brigid’s Holy Well and the Bridgidine Community in Co. Kildare.  This year we attended some or all of three discussion meetings on Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation which took place in Mount Anville with some Sisters and people involved in education.  The Pope's Encyclical Laudato Si was discussed and our relationship with the earth and marginalised people, e.g. refugees and the poor.  This year we had a day retreat locally with Mass, confessions, lecture and discussion.  The Dublin groups got together for this and it was very well attended.  We attended a wonderful day of discussion on St. Philippine Duchesne and also got a report on the Bicentennial celebrations in Saint Louis last July.  A very lively and informative discussion followed.

Most of the members are involved in their own parish and in the special Ministries there.  We hope that the Charism of the Sacred Heart Society comes through in our work there.  We also have some members who are ill or going through treatments especially this year and we keep contact and prayers for each one of them.