Birthday 100!

Sister Martha Hickey   1917 to 2017

We are very honoured to share community life with Martha and celebrate her 100th birthday. This was an extraordinary celebration, which included moments of reflection and sharing of memories. Martha herself proudly read aloud the good wishes of President Michael D. Higgins - to great applause. Congratulations and photos became a feature of the entire day. The dinner menu was chosen by Martha herself. All enjoyed a wonderful meal - Oriental in flavour. Later, Eilish O’Mahony showed some slides of her recent visit to Asia. This brought many memories to life for both Martha anf and many other IJS who would have lived and worked in these parts of the world. As the day moved on we were overjoyed for Martha when Sheila O’Connell, mother of Paul (retired Irish Rugby player from Limerick) called to greet Martha and present her with  Paul’s recently published book, signed by himself! She was distinguished in being gifted with a Munster rugby scarf which she proudly wore for the rest of the day as the celebrations continued. The cake, beautifully decorated and ablaze with candles, was cut. As the cameras flashed, one image stands out as Martha blew out all the candles in a single breath, amid great applause! As the day continued it was interspersed with many stories and shared memories. A time for prayer included for all those who would have shared Martha’s journey 1917 – 2017: from the age of 7-13 she attended National school in Ahalin, Co Limerick. Next she spent two years in the School of Housecraft, in Drishane, Millstreet Co. Cork.This was her first meeting with nuns. It was a very happy experience and she was filled with admiration for them. During the following 2 years the seed planted in her heart took root and led to her leaving home and entering the Novitiate in 1936. Seven years later after her Final profession (a day that still stands out as one of great significance for her) she set sail for Malaysia( then known as Malaya. Without questioning Martha accepted to travel to multicultural Asia, where she taught catechism and English. Her youthful energy and desire followed her during the next 16 years. At this point she had her first visit home to Ireland. This was  a great surprise as in those days one went on mssion for ‘life’. We can well imagine the joy of meeting with family and friends once more. On returning to Asia, she was sent to a new mission in Thailand where she taught in the English language school for 5 years. Then time came for Martha to move on. She returned to Europe and taught in the Junior school in Weybridge as well as doing parish visitation – in the course of which  many of her hidden gifts surfaced. Changing times eventually led to the re-location of this community to Ireland and eventually Martha moved to our care-home in Cork, where  she lives a resonably active life, with time to relax and enjoy a well deserved break with plenty of time for prayer and stillness of heart. Martha is indeed a woman of deep faith and many interests. Mairead O’Sullivan IJS

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