Retired religious deserve a break – too true

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

We all get very angry if elderly people are neglected or are being
overlooked in their needs.

There is a category of elderly people in Ireland today who have given
their whole lives in caring for Irish people freely but who are now
very dependent on care and help themselves because of the weakness of
old age.

I speak of the great numbers of ageing religious sisters, brothers and
priests (numbers of them returning from lifelong labours in missionary
countries).

In a few years, unless there is a miraculous change on the vocations
scene, there will be no religious sisters or brothers and indeed very
few priests.

Hundreds of thousands of Irish people have benefited enormously from
the education provided by the women and men of the teaching
congregations over many decades.

Not only did these dedicated people provide excellent education but,
being fully qualified teachers, their salaries were used to subsidise
the building of their schools and the subsequent maintenance of the
schools.

Above and beyond their teaching service these religious often provided
ancillary exercises in sport, dramatic and musical performances, etc.

The State also owes a great debt of gratitude to the religious
congregations for their self-sacrificing work in medical care. Many of
our hospitals were built and until recent years were being staffed by
religious. Again, like their colleagues in the educational field, the
salaries of the religious in medical work were used to subsidise the
running costs of hospitals to the benefit of the Irish State and
people.
Practically all specialised and caring medical services in relation to
helping young people with visual, hearing complaints and those with
emotional or mental disabilities have been in the care of religious
congregations in Ireland. I would trust that people who have benefited
from being taught in religious schools or whose families were cared
for by religious would rally to support the religious who, in the
weakness of old age, are deserving of care. Hopefully “eaten bread is
soon forgotten” will not become a reality in the lives of aged
religious sisters and brothers.

Fr Con McGillicuddy
Sacred Heart residence
Raheny
Dublin 5