By Sean Ryan - 17 July, 2016
In 1940s and 1950s, Governments would not have been in a position to organise social services without support of the volunteer religious orders,
Just days after the departure of the Dominican Order from Limerick City the Daughters of Charity departed the city this week.
The Daughters of Charity arrived in Limerick City 64 years ago in 1952 and in the intervening years the sisters and staff supported hundreds of people with disabilities and their families. Only four sisters remain at the Sisters convent and this week it was confirmed that Sr Kathleen Moore, Sr Breege Fahey, Sr Colette McLoughlin and Sr Francis Brouder are to leave their Lisnargy base on the outskirts of Limerick city.
Paying tribute Denis Cronin, CEO of the Daughters of Charity Disability Support Services told the Limerick Leader “If families needed support, they had few options locally and had to consider transferring their son or daughter for residential placement in large centres in Dublin or Cork – difficult places to visit in the 1950s.” He said that religious orders have played a huge role where the State has left a vacuum. He added “It is recognised that religious communities inspired by core Christian values stepped in to deliver where States failed to act.”
The Daughters of Charity, a French order came to post famine Ireland in 1855 – to serve the poor, destitute and abandoned. Over the following years, they were asked by local and national authorities to become involved in a variety of social services like care of the elderly, nursing, hospitals, children’s services and education.
“Over time supporting people with disabilities became one of their larger ministries,” said Mr Cronin. While the CEO recognises that some religious organisations have attracted heavy criticism over unjustifiable acts of neglect and abuse of people under their care, he said as a society we had to “also recognise the great works that the majority of religious congregations did to support the less fortunate”.
“Certainly in Ireland during the 1940s and 1950s our fledgling state was more than happy to accept the support and services provided by the Daughters and others. In truth, the Governments of the day would not have been in a position to establish, organise, afford or manage the social services without the support of the volunteer religious orders at that time,” he added.
The four remaining sisters will now move to other Daughters of Charity Convents throughout the country.