birdhovering overwater
Vocations Sunday

This year, those of us who are actively part of a support group
in Dublin in Vocation Promotion gave three retreat weekends on

“Call” in different parishes.
Greenhills, Bawnogue and Kimmage Manor. 

We were warmly received in each location and our input was appreciated in workshops on
Human Rights, Drama and Scripture, Your calling and as preachers at the different Masses.

For Vocation Sunday we were in Kimmage Manor and it was significant to note that
at the three Masses there were few, 
any people, between the ages of 18-45 unless as a parent. 
It is hoped that an active programme will be developed during the year of Consecrated Life.

A BIG IDEA  but simple to realise is
for each priest and religious  to revisit the parish
where one was baptised or made First Communion

and express one’s gratitude for the faith life nurtured there and tell something of
one’s faith story in religious life. This  could have quite an impact.

Who will speak if you don't?  ( Oscar Romero)

barbara gartland

The Ugandan-Irish Girls of Karamoja

flag 1flag 2


Sinne Fianna Fáil atá fé gheall ag Éirinn

Buidhean dár sluagh tar ruinn do ráinig chugainn...
(Soldiers are we, whose lives are pledged to Ireland. Some have come from a land beyond the wave...)

These are the beginning lyrics of the Irish national anthem, sung on this occasion not only by Irish men and women but, also by young Karamojong girls of Kangole Girls School, during the Embassy’s St. Patrick’s Day reception in Kampala.

The guests that attended the reception on Thursday 13th March 2014 were bowled over by the spectacle: one could hear a pin drop as everybody listened and later burst into joy and huge applause, really setting the scene for the festivities that followed afterwards.


girls sing

Kangole students singing the Irish National Anthem, joined by Dónal Cronin, Chargé d’Affaires

Kangole Girls School in Karamoja was founded by the Catholic Diocese of Moroto in 1967 and is run by the Sacred Heart Sisters with 650 students attending it today. The school enjoys a special relationship not only with the Embassy but, with many Irish back home in Ireland as well. Sister Carmel Flynn from the Sacred Heart Order was an Irish nun in Kangole Girls School. Her arrival as a head-teacher in 1992 started what was to be a deep and meaningful relationship between Ireland and this particular school. Three other Irish nuns(rscj) have also been involved in the school, Pat Egan, Mary Roe and Bernadette McArdle.

The school has also received strong support from the Embassy and the Irish Aid programme. As part of Irish Aid efforts in Karamoja, Kangole Girls School benefitted from the Uganda Post Primary Education and Training Programme (UPPET), when the school received an equipped computer-room, a stocked library, four classrooms and equipped Physics, Chemistry and Biology laboratories. The teachers have also benefitted from capacity building and training in Science and Mathematics, through the Irish Aid funded SESEMAT programme. 170 students at the school also benefit from the Irish Aid Karamoja bursary programme.

For the 16 girls that travelled to Kampala to be a part of the St. Patrick’s Day festivities, this was a time for them to showcase not only their musical skills but dance as well.

kangolegirls karamojongdance

Six of the sixteen girls were travelling to Kampala for the first time. They were impressed by the many high-rise buildings, cars, supermarkets and tarmac roads with humps. They also noticed that schools in Kampala are fenced off whereas those in Karamoja are not.

Like Frances Awas said,

                  “Thank you for the invitation to Kampala, some of us would not have made it here had it not been for this invitation”.

Others were thankful for the recognition they got at the St. Patrick’s Day function as well as funding that enables their colleagues to get a chance at education through the bursary programme.

A message to the Head of Mission from Jane Frances Kavuma rscj  is,

                  “Thank you for the support to Karamoja. Like you said in your speech, Uganda will not develop until Karamoja develops.
                  So, please,   continue to support Karamoja”.

So, as the world celebrates St. Patrick’s Day this month, know that the efforts of very special Irish people mean that the students of Kangole Girls School celebrate Ireland every day, singing the Irish anthem and raising the tricolor alongside Uganda’s. Long, may it continue!

Saint Rose Philippine II

Reflection on St. Rose Philippine Duchesne

“Her prayer was a quiet looking and listening…”[1]

Dacia Van Antwerp, Associate
philippine indianspicture

Ever since the Lord led Philippine Duchesne to desire to serve the natives in America, she planned and prepared for the Indian missions. After coming to America in 1818, at long last, in 1841, the goal was in sight. Not Philippine but Lucille Mathevon, RSCJ, had been nominated as superior of the Indian mission band. Philippine was not going to be among the group. Mother Mathevon had written to Madeleine Sophie Barat in April describing Mother Duchesne’s health, “There is scarcely a breath of life in her.” And later, on May 10, she wrote, “Mother Duchesne is growing considerably weaker. I fear she would not be able to go far.” Even Philippine herself admitted to Sophie on May 18, “My writing and my scratching out show you the weakness of both my head and my hand …. I await the will of God.” All around her preparations were being made for the Indian Mission and “there seemed to be no human hope of her going to Sugar Creek.”[2] What was going through Philippine’s heart and head as she was forced to accept the fact that she was not going on the mission?

But God has his ways. Father Peter J. Verhaegen, S.J came to the convent quite unexpectedly one morning. He had decided to visit the Sugar Creek Mission in July and thought it best for the religious to travel in safety under his escort. With him in the parlor were Mothers Gray, Mathevon and Duchesne, for Father Verhaegen always asked for Mother Duchesne. They were discussing the details of the trip and the preparations for three religious. Father Verhaegen had expected four. He turned to where Mother Duchesne was sitting and said, “But she must come, too.” She was the person he wanted most of all at Sugar Creek. “Even if she can use only one leg, she will come. Why, if we have to carry her all the way on our shoulders, she is coming with us. She may not be able to do much work, but she will assure success to the mission by praying for us. Her very presence will draw down all manner of heavenly favors on the work.”

Thus the little band – including Philippine – boarded the Missouri River packet on June 29, 1841. Looking at the nuns and sensing their need, the passengers took up a collection of about $50 and provisions worth about $40, which they gave to the nuns.

And what were her thoughts once she arrived at the Mission? She wrote from the village of the Potawatomi, “we have reached the country of our desires. … No difficulties except when people worry too much about tomorrow.”  Unable to contribute as she thought she should, she faced the fact that she had failed in the dearest hope of her life. She was incapable of active work.


[1] Louise Callan rscj, Philippine Duchesne, Newman Press, 1965, p.487.

[2] Ibid, p.426.

Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne

Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne

Woman With A Global Heart

In November we commemorate  Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne. Earlier this year  ‘Reflections on Philippine Duchesne’ featured on the USA society website. In  the  weeks prior to her feast day on 18 November they can be accessed on the IRS province website courtesy of  USA province.

The challenge her life offers is real. 

Maureen Glavin rscj says ...

'Philippine Duchesne had what I like to call a Global Heart. Because of this, I find Philippine to be a particularly inviting model for our 21st century world.

philippine stainedglasswindow

A global heart is simple enough to understand: it is a heart that has moved from lingering lovingly in an ego-centric place, through a group-centric place (my tribe, my race, my social group, etc.), to a world-centric place. A global heart has shifted the focus of interest and compassion from “me” to “us” to “all of us”! This development describes an emergence of consciousness and compassion into ever-expanding circles of who is defined as “one’s neighbour” or into ever-expanding circles of people with whom one is capable of truly empathizing. A global heart has an inclusive, wide tent and a porous boundary!

Philippine Duchesne was constantly expanding the borders and boundaries of her heart. As a child she yearned to reach out to the poor of Grenoble, as an adolescent and young nun she dreamed of working with native peoples across the ocean, and as an old woman she longed to travel to the Rocky Mountains and beyond - even to China.

Philippine courageously crossed borders and boundaries that were not just geographic or political; she crossed borders and boundaries of social class, language, culture and customs. Philippine’s circle of compassion was as wide as the world. Her deep desire was to bring the love of God, which she had come to know so intimately, to those in the world she thought were most removed from it. Philippine had a Global Heart.

So what of us?
How broad is the tent of our own inclusion?
How wide is the circle of our compassion?
How porous are the boundaries of our hearts?
For whom do our hearts hurt?

If the answer is too narrow or parochial, it is useful to know HOW Philippine’s Heart BECAME so GLOBAL.
She opened her heart and spent copious amounts of time allowing God’s Love, through Christ, to fill her, to form her and, ultimately, to transform her. Her Heart thus became increasingly beautifully revelatory of Christ’s Heart. And AS Christ’s Heart, her heart encompassed the globe'.

A Story of Fire


                               “I have come to bring fire

Get the Flash Player to see this player.

                                                           to the earth... (Lk 12:49)