Encouragement from Nancy, age 107, from Meath

Ireland’s oldest citizen, Nancy Stewart, aged 107, has written an amazing letter to encourage everyone in these difficult and anxious times 

Dear Sir – My name is Nancy Stewart and I was born on the 16th of October 1913. This weekend I turn 107 years of age.

Imagine turning 107 in a world pandemic. This definitely is something very unusual even for me and all I have been through. I live in Clonard in County Meath and have lived in my home for over 83 years.

I lost my husband in a car crash in 1989, and lost my twin daughters Margaret in 2007 to motor neurone and Anne in 2010 to utter heartbreak of losing her sister. I’ve lost all my friends throughout the years which comes with living so long on this earth.

I’m very lucky to still have three daughters Kathleen, Mary and Olive and one son Finian and I have 84 grandchildren, great grandchildren and great great grandchildren. 

I have faced many heart-breaking moments and also have seen many hard times in our country witnessing world wars, division in our people and numerous sad times for our nation.

I write to you today to send you my love and to offer you my prayers. We are in a very difficult time at the moment in our country, in our lives and in our world. But I reach out to you in this letter to offer you hope, faith and belief that everything will be ok in the end.

We are in another stage of this battle against the virus but we will get through this. Like everything I’ve been through since the day I was born in 1913, no matter how bad things have got, I’m the living proof that we can survive and in years to come, this will just be a distant memory.

I have a great faith and it has helped me keep positive throughout the struggles I’ve met. I thank you for keeping your faith and for keeping your resilience strong, through this hard time. Sadly for the moment, we can no longer stretch out to a friend and embrace them nor can we call to each other’s houses.

But I’m here to share my story. I have been in lockdown in my house since March, alongside my granddaughter Louise and even though it has been a tough time, we have got through it together. 

We drink tea. We say prayers. We bake. We laugh. We make phone calls. I can even video call lots of my family and friends and am making new friends every day that God gives me on this earth.

And that’s a very important thing to say. If you are feeling low, make sure to try call someone or even go for a walk. I also ask God to help me if I’m feeling low. This is a hard time for everyone but please make sure you keep yourself well and wear your mask. If you keep healthy, your mind will stay healthy too.

Keep talking to one another. All my life I have always believed in chatting and drinking tea and saying a prayer or a decade of the Rosary and it has got me through. This is our moment to keep our faith and to keep believing that everything will turn out ok.

We must try to make sure we leave nobody behind and also that we don’t lose sight of each other. This is a moment for humanity to step forward to take care of the other. We must mind ourselves but we must also mind all those around us. Look up and smile even if you have your mask on.

Your eyes will smile and that might be all someone needs to keep going. No good deed ever goes unnoticed so try your best to keep being good. We are not here to live for ourselves but to live for each other.

I can’t believe I’ve made it to this age, I only feel like I’m 50 but now that I’m here, all I can say is please God I’ll be here for my next birthday. We must always look forward. I can’t believe I’m the oldest person in Ireland living in my own home, I don’t feel that old.

When God wants me, he will come take me but for now I will keep enjoying my life, I’ll keep loving my family and I’ll keep saying my prayers day by day…..oh and not to forget eating lots of good wholesome food is my tip. Good food and lots of tea is my secret to a long life as well as keeping positive as best we can. We must always look forward and hope for the best.

Thank you for thinking of me in your prayers and your thoughts and I promise I will think of you in my many rosaries I say everyday.

Thank you so much for reading my letter also and I hope I have, in even a little way, helped you feel less alone in this moment. There is always hope and once we keep talking to one another, no day will seem empty and we can get through this together. It only takes a small candle to take away the dark and in each of us, we can be that light in the world.

This hard time will indeed pass like all the rest and all that matters is that we helped each other through.

Many blessings and much love,

Granny Nancy x

Clonard

Co Meath.

Remember Pat Hooper

Thinking about the late, great Pat Hooper, God rest him (16-10-2020)

Pat’s sudden death, age only 68, last Friday was a big shock.

Funny thing, it seems his work was done. His time was up.

The Raheny 5 is cancelled this year. It was his BIG thing every January.

He started it over 30 years ago.

4000 runners. A great day. The start of Spring every year.

Pat was a great mentor to young people.

My step son, Pauric, age 17, was close to Pat.

I really liked him too. Like a big brother. The reliable type.

He could be gruff but he was very good natured.

He had a GREAT sense of humour. A great friend to very many.

He did a lot of good for a lot of people. Giving his time and  energy.

A VERY kind man. He had a hard life. Deeply compassionate.

Pat was really a legend. A great community man. A giver of himself.

Highly disciplined. Pushed himself hard. Great for going to funerals too.

His children, Dave and Bronagh, loved him very much. We all did

The remaining Hoopers, Maura (my wife), Nuala, Dick and Sr Eileen are all close. Joe Hooper, the eldest brother, died a few years ago in America, God rest him too.

The great, longstanding family joke is that Pat was ALWAYS late for our Christmas gathering. Predictably.

That was Pat. His own man.

T

The 29 Divine Mercy Conferences in the RDS

The 29 Conferences of  the Divine Mercy  in the R.D.S. Dublin so far

1992    “Mercy our Mission” – (John 8:1-13)

               Fr. George Kosicki  (now RIP) and Fr. Seraphim Michalenko

                  and Maureen Digan and Ugo Feste (testimonies)

1993    “Who is my neighbour?” – (Luke 10:25-37)

               Ted Hanley (www.JesseTree.net, Texas, USA)

                  and Fr. Harold Cohen S.J. (New Orleans- now RIP)

1994     “Come back to Me” – (Luke 15:11-32)                                  

               Ted and Ellie Hanley together and Fr. Bob Faricy S.J. (ex-Rome)

1995      “Come, Follow Me ”   (Mark 1:18)                           

                Sr Briege Mc Kenna, Fr Kevin Scallon CM (now RIP), Archbishop Des Connell

1996       “Be merciful as your Father is Merciful” – ( Luke 6:36)

                 Fr. George Kosicki (U.S.A.), Frances Hogan and Shane O’ Doherty

1997       “His Mercy never ends” – (Lamentations  3:22)

                 Fr. Damian Ryan and Fr. Jimmy Mc Caffrey O.D.C.

                   (St Therese, Doctor of the Church) and Marian Carroll ( testimony)

1998       “Take heart, rise up, He is calling you” – (Mark 10:46)   

                  Fr. Pat Martin (U.S.A) and Sr. Consilio (Cuan Mhuire)

1999        “I thank You, Father” – (Matthew 11:25-30)

                 Fr. Pat Collins C.M. and Fr. Adrian Farrelly O.P.

2000        “This is my beloved Son, Listen to Him”– (Mark 9:6)      

                  Bishop M Drennan, Sr. Stan Kennedy, Gerry Duff, Carol Donohoe

2001        “Seek Me…. always” – (Amos 5:4)       

                 Mother Tessa Bielecki and  Stanley Villavicencio, Val Conlon

2002       “Whatever you did to the least, you did it to me”- (Matt 25)

                Sr Briege Mc Kenna O.S.C., Fr Kevin Scallon CM , Bishop Jim Moriarty

2003 “What I want is Mercy, not sacrifice” – (Matthew 9:13)

                 Sr. Siepak/Sr. Salvatrice, Fr. Thady Doyle and John Pridmore

2004       “When I am weak, then I am strong” – (2 Cor 12:10)  

                  Fr. Peter Prusakiewicz C.S.M.A. and Frances Hogan

                      John Lonergan and Archbishop Diarmuid Martin  

2005       “This is My Body” – (Matthew 26:26) 

                Cardinal Des Connell, Sr. Consilio, Fr. Peter Mc Verry, Gerry Duff

2006 “Be it done unto me according to Your Word”- (Luke 1:38)

            Sr. Donata (reading Sr. Alicja Zelmanska’s lessons), Bishop Ray Field

                 Fr. Gabriel Harty O.P. and Fr. Aidan Troy (C.P.), Fr John Harris

2007  “My Kingdom is not of this world”- (John 18:36)

AB D. Martin, Anne, lay apostle, Fr. Vincent Travers , Fr. Killian Byrne

2008  “That they all may be one…”– (John 17:21)

                Theresa Bonopartis, Fr Matt Mauriello, Brendan Gleeson (all from USA)

                   Fr Brendan Purcell, Eddie Stones (Clonfert) and team

2009  “His Mercy is from age to age…”(Luke 1:50)

  Bishop Eamonn Walsh, Fr Patrice Chocolski (France),

  Anne, lay apostle, Fr Bob Faricy SJ (USA)

2010 “Go… make disciples of all the nations”– (Mt 28:19)

Fr Michael Maher, Fr Bob Faricy SJ, Joan Freeman (Pieta house), Fr Ciaran O Carroll, Heidi Gilroy, Dr Branca Paul

2011 “Remain in My Love” – (John 15:9)

Bishop Martin Igwe Uzoukwu (Nigeria) , Sr Caterina Esselen OLM,

Fr Pat Martin (USA), Fr Kevin Doran, Fr Adrian Farrelly & Michael Donnelly      

2012 – “They have no wine”(John 2 : 3) 

Heidi Gilroy, Fr Kevin Doran,  David Pawson (UK), Dr Mark Miravalle (USA), Fr Jack Finnegan SDB

2013 – “Behold your Mother” – (John 19)

Fr Michael Gaitley MIC (USA), Fr Damian Ryan (Limerick), Maeve Carlin, Maura Garraghy, Ronan Mullen, (Fr Price retired after this year’s event)

2014 – “Our Father, Thy will be done”

Fr Timothy Radcliffe OP (UK), Fr Peter Prusakievizc CSMA, Bishop Diarmiud Martin, Christy May, Fr Emmet O Hara, Fr Eamon Burke, Fr Michael Ross SDB (new Spiritual Director of the Conference Apostolate), Fr Pat Collins CM

2015 – “Forgive us our trespasses”

Sr Briege Mc Kenna OSC and Fr Kevin Scallon CM, Fr Joe Mc Donald, Philip Ryan with Fr Michael Ross SDB (Spiritual Director)

2016 – “As we forgive those who trespass against us”

Fr Pat Collins CM, Sr Briege Mc Kenna OSC, Fr Kevin Scallon CM, Sr Consilio, Frances Hogan, Philip Ryan, Fr Michael Ross

2017  “Have mercy on us and on the whole world” – (from the Diary of St Faustina)

Robert Stackpole (USA), Fr Michael Maher SM, Fr Bernard J Mc Guckian SJ, Frances Hogan, Denise Kelly (Pro Life Campaign), Fr Michael Fitzgerald (Cork), Fr Brendan Walsh SCA, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin.

2018  “Courage, It is I, do not be afraid”

Ralph Martin (USA), Magnus Mac Farlane Barrow (Mary’s Meals, Scotland), Fr Sean Kelly OFM Cap, Fr Paschal Mc Donnell OFM, Fr Eunan Mc Donnell, Don Devaney, Caroline Simons, Emma Maloney, AB Diarmuid Martin (Dublin), Bishop Eamon Walsh, Fr Tim Bartlett (WMOF)

2019 “Let us not be put to the test”

Fr Hayden Williams OFM (cap) Malta, AB Jude Thaddeus Okolo, papal nuncio, Niamh Ui Bhrian, Life Institute, Fr Pat Collins CM, Fr Eunan Mc Donnell SDB, Deacon Don Devaney, Fr Brendan Walsh, pallotine, Fr Patrick Cahill, Holy Family Mission

2020 “Deliver us from evil”

Fr Peter Glas (Poland), Fr Pat Collins CM, Maria Steen (Iona), AB Eamon Martin, Armagh, AB Diarmuid Martin, Dublin, AB Jude Okolo, Nuncio, Fr Brendan Walsh SCA

2021 Feb 19th/20th /21st  ONLINE

Divine Mercy Conference Speakers that i have appreciated (1992 to 2020)

Sr Consilio stands out as one of the best women speakers we had as well as Theresa Bonopartis (USA). Carol Donohoe gave a brilliant testimony in 2000. Frances Hogan was also inspiring. And Heidi Gilroy and Joan Freeman. And Mother Tess Bielecki and lay apostle, Anne.

Jesuit Fr Bob Faricy (USA) has to be my all time favourite male speaker though I loved the great humanitarian John Lonergan too. Fr Pat Martin (USA) was also really amazing and the ever resilient Fr Gabriel Harty and the late great Fr George Kosicki (USA). I loved Fr Harold Cohen from New Orleans too, God rest him.  A beautiful gentleman. And of course, Fr Seraphim Michalenko too. Gerry Duff spoke very well. And Val Conlon. I loved Fr Liam Lawton too. The music of Robbie Hurley and friends has been a constant inspiration. My old faithful pal and supporter, George Dennis, noted recently that Robbie was the one who ‘lights the spark’ in the RDS. I have listened over and over to all Fr Cathal Price’s talks. They still never fail to move me. There is a huge depth of Mercy and Love to them. He visibly grew in Faith and devotion as the years progressed and became more Marian as, in fact, we all did. Cardinal Connell got two standing ovations as did Sr Briege Mc Kenna (who spoke again brilliantly in 2015 and 2016) and, of course, all the lovely, prayerful Sisters from Poland

Eg Sr Alicja Zelmanska, founder of the Faustinum, with Sr Elizabeta Siepak.

And who can forget Bishop Martin Uzoukwu? Archbishop Diarmuid Martin gave excellent talks several times and I enjoyed Bishop Martin Drennan 2000 and Ray Field. Their sense of humour helped.

Fr Bob and John Lonegan also had that great and gentle gift as had Fr Gabriel. Some of Fr Cathal’s jokes were good but some were really desperate. Don Devaney always excels in this regard too. His Thank Yous are always memorable and his moving Stations during the Reconcilation time.

Fr Brendan Purcell likewise and Fr Vincent Travers OP, Fr Aidan Troy, Fr Peter Mc Verry SJ, lively Fr John Harris OP and Fr Adrian Farrelly OP who spoke twice and very movingly.

There is no need to mention the few speakers who failed to ignite though they were memorable in some ways too. Language translation was sometimes a big barrier.

This reflection is only the tip of an iceberg of great quality teachings. Many of the personal testimonies have gone down really well eg Christy May 2014, Nashville singer Collin Raye, Texan ‘Good Guy’ Ted Hanley and the incredible Derryman Shane O Doherty, God bless him now. Br Stanley Villavicencio was mind blowing too and Fr Michael Gaitley (USA), Fr Michael Ross SDB and Marist Fr Michael Maher were excellent too and the bould Fr Thady, the Wexford spiritual revolutionary, and of course the urbane, if controversial, intellectual, Fr Timothy Radcliffe and the ‘Steady Eddies’ Fr Kevin Scallon and Fr Peter Prusakiewizc OSM and the charismatic Fr Pat Collins CM (who spoke brilliantly again in 2016) and Carmelite Fr Jimmy Mc Caffrey ODC  in 1997 (St Therese’s Year)

Robert Stackpole (USA) proved in 2017 to be a lovely man and easy to understand.

The 27th Conference in 2018 was a great success albeit with smaller numbers, Magnus Mc Farlane Barrow was the big hit. Fr Sean Kelly OFM (Cap) was really excellent too as was Bishop Eamon Walsh.

The Pro Life speakers Caroline Simons and Emma Maloney were very good too. As was AB Diarmuid Martin who has been a very faithful supporter.

Fr Tim Bartlett spoke livelily well about the World Meeting of Families and the Pope’s visit. Fr Eunan did a lovely job on the Saturday night healing service and his brother Fr Paschal OFM from Rossnowlagh did the Sunday Holy Hour.

St Faustina strikes again

St Faustina Strikes Again (5-10-2020)

There is really nothing as headwrecking as technology. Not even a nagging wife or a poor person with agitated dementia asking the same question again and again.

But St Faustina saved my sanity on her now official feast day October 5th. Next door to St Francis. It’s a bit of a long story but it’s worth telling, I think.

I am putting up this website, please God, called www.mercyourmission.com to archive all about the 29 Conferences of Divine Mercy that we had in the RDS since 1992 and all our friends who have gone to heaven. Great characters. A great story

I ok-ed all this with Deacon Don Devaney yesterday at Peadar Reilly’s funeral in Balgaddy (The Parish of Divine Mercy) where the Conference Story began (Betty’s husband)

Don blessed us with St Faustina’s relic after Communion.

Anyhow, without getting too technical, I got my domain registration company HOST.IE and my website hosting company WORDPRESS to organise uploading our new website to the world wide web and I waited 72 hours as you have to.

But nothing happened. So I contacted HOST.IE by ‘LIVE CHAT’. A kind of texting conversation by computer. They were very helpful, a nice girl called Elsa, and she advised me to contact the WORDPRESS Helpline again, which I did. Born Free!

Maura, by this time of the evening, was doing her nut as she need to get baking with Pauric in the kitchen, for his school homework, where I was totally  absorbed in my Live Chat with Word Press. Then the Indian guy I was chatting to online, Gutyathri, I think it was, God bless him, suggested that I look in my spam folder for the confirmation e mail which I had needed to respond to which was what was holding up everything. The changes had to be validated by HOST.IE, you see.

I found it, thank God, despite Maura hounding me out of the kitchen! And so now I am waiting another 72 hours but this wednesday is Our Lady of the Rosary so I am hopeful we will be up and running tomorrow. The Rosary gives you great confidence (if you can’t stand the heat……).

raymond wickham, sligo, remembered

Personal reflections on my cousin Raymond Wickham from Sligo (RIP 3-9-19)

Raymond was a gentleman, son of Brendan and Ruby (nee Bradley). A man of deep and constant prayer and warm hearted caring. He had a lovely gentle sense of West of Ireland humour. Soft. A great crowd came to his funeral and everyone said what a lovely man he was. Popular in the town. He really loved music and played professionally in America. His own cd is worth listening to.

He bore all his illnesses well and with great patience and dignity. When he got Guillane Barre nerve/muscle paralysis syndrome in about 2010 he could no longer play the guitar well and had to stop gigging. It weakened him a lot. I think he left his weekly prayer group at this stage too and his job in Dunne’s Stores. He had serious knee problems and severe pain too with that. Still he kept going. He got a minor yet very debilitating and isolating TIA last Christmas 2018 also prior to his final illness in August 2019 when he got a massive stroke. Everyone said Raymond was really ‘harmless’. He never really hurt anyone, I would say. Or, at least, never meant to.

A real genuinely humble, if slightly eccentric, soul.

He never married though he had a girlfriend in America. When she left him he returned heartbroken to Sligo town. He loved God and Our Lady. He was a lovely singer and had a lovely voice. Moving and powerful. He knew and liked Country Music with it’s depth of emotion and real-lifeness.

He looked after his late mother Ruby very well and with great kindness and faithfulness when she was in St John’s Home. I think he visited her there daily until she died in 2008.

Ruby always said wryly, when she was asked how Raymond was, that Raymond “was Raymond”. He was himself.

 

“Misericordia Domini, in Eternum cantabo”