By Sean Ryan - 14 July, 2017
Homeless champion Sr Stanlaus Kennedy will receive a special award this Sunday, 16 July 2017. Sr Stan will be presented with the 2017 Fitzgerald Bible Bruff Award at the Thomas Fitzgerald Centre in Co. Limerick.
The award was introduced for the first time in 2015 and was awarded last year to legendary broadcaster Micheál Ó Muircheartaigh.
The award ceremony is organised by the Bruff Heritage Group and the award is given to a person who, through a particular act or service, makes a significant contribution to the country of Ireland. Committee chairman Paul Dennehy said “Sr Stanislaus Kennedy is a most deserving recipient … and we are delighted that she will be accepting the award.”
Born Teresa Kennedy in Dingle, Co. Kerry in 1939, Sr Stan has been a member of the congregation of Religious Sisters of Charity since 1958. She will receive the award in recognition of her lifelong contribution and work with and on behalf of “the poor, the homeless and the abused in Ireland.”
Speaking about her award, she said “I’m very honoured and humbled to receive the award and I accept it on behalf of all the people in the organisations I have founded, namely Focus Ireland, The Immigrant Council of Ireland, Young Social Innovators and the Sanctuary.”
She continued: “The staff and volunteers are the people who do the work. I’m merely the instrument who started them.”
In 1985 Sr Stan founded Focus Ireland, which is the biggest voluntary housing organisation in the country. In 2001 she set up The Immigrant Council of Ireland (ICI) as a response to the social needs of new immigrants living in Ireland. In 1997 she was appointed to the Council of State in Ireland and served until 2004.
Sr Stan is the author of six books published by Transworld Ireland. Of these, her book The Road Home details her childhood and work over the years as a member of the Religious Sisters of Charity. This book contains a foreword written by former President of Ireland Mary McAleese.
The Fitzgerald Family Bible Bruff Award is given to a person who makes a significant contribution to the country of Ireland through a particular act or service. The award was established in 2015 and promotes the link between Bruff and the Fitzgerald family bible.
When Thomas Fitzgerald, who was the grandfather of former US President, John F. Kennedy, left the east Limerick town in 1852, the only item he took with him was the family bible. Through generations, the bible was used by the family to record deaths, marriages and births.
It played an important role in the Fitzgerald family. When John F. Kennedy was being sworn in as the 35th President of the United States of America, he insisted on using it to swear the oath of office. The bible is now on exhibition in the John Fitzgerald Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston.
The first recipient of the award was Philomena Lee. She received the award in 2015 for her work through the Philomena Lee Foundation.
The Thomas Fitzgerald Centre was formerly the courthouse in Bruff. Following the amalgamation of Bruff District Court with Kilmallock, the building became vacant. Bruff Heritage Group took over the building and set about renovating it. In 2013 Caroline Kennedy officially renamed the building the Thomas Fitzgerald Centre.
Today the centre displays the ancestral links between the town of Bruff and the Fitzgerald Kennedy family. The centre is also used as a venue for adult learning and a number of community events.