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NAAS - 1939 Convent Centenary

 Leinster Leader: 30/09/1939
Naas Religious Ceremonies
Quarant Ore and Convent Centenary
Lord Bishop of Diocese Presides
His Lordship, Most Rev. Dr. Keogh, Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin, presided at and participated in Solemn High Mass which was celebrated at the Church of our Lady and St. David, Naas, on last Sunday.
The occasion was the conclusion of the beautiful devotions of Quarant Ore and the celebration of the Centenary of the Convent of Mercy, Naas.
The sacred edifice was thronged with a devout congregation who followed the impressive and inspiring ceremonies with rapt attention.
After the first Gospel, an eloquent tribute was paid to the Sisters of Mercy by Rev. Father Counihan, S. J., one of the Jesuit Fathers conducting the Mission in the Parish.
The music of the Mass was rendered with great devotion by the Church Choir. During the procession of the Blessed Sacrament, which took place immediately after Mass, his Lordship, the Bishop, intoned the Te Deum, which was sung by the Choir.
Jesuit’s Tribute to sisters
The beautiful ceremonies of the Quarant Ore were held in the Church of Our Lady and St. David, Naas, last weekend, when scenes of a marked religious fervour were witnessed. The ceremonies commenced on Friday with Solemn High Mass at eight o’clock followed by a procession of the Blessed Sacrament, with a Guard of Altar Boys and Children of Mary.
On Saturday, High Mass, "Pro Pace," was celebrated, and on Sunday, Quarant Ore concluded with High Mass, in the presence of His Lordship, Most Rev. Dr. Keogh, Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin, who participated in the Mass. Immediately following High Mass, there was a procession of the Blessed Sacrament and Te Deum in celebration of the Centenary of the Naas Convent of Mercy, 1839-1939.
The celebrant of the Mass was Rev. Father Phelan, C. C., the deacon was Rev. Father Boylan, C. C., and the sub-deacon, Rev. Father Murphy, C. C. Very Rev. L. Brophy, P. P., V. F., Newbridge, was Master of Ceremonies. His Lordship, who occupied a crimson draped throne, erected in the Sanctuary, had as his assistants, Very Rev. L. Kehoe, P. P., Clane, Rev. Father Shuley, S. J., and Rev. Father Counihan, S. J., the two Fathers conducting the Mission in the Mass. During the Mass his Lordship gave the usual indulgence of forty days on the usual conditions.
At the conclusion of the Mass, procession of the Blessed Sacrament took place, the Sacred Host being carried by his Lordship under a Canopy borne by the Christian Brothers.
On the return of the procession the Te Deum was intoned by the Bishop and sung by the choir in Plain Chant. The Tantum Ergo, which followed, was founded on the slow movement from Beethoven’s Choral Symphony. After the Blessing, the choir sang Haller’s "Sacris Solemnis."
Music of the Mass
The choir once again distinguished itself by its perfect rendering of the sacred music. The Proper of the Mass, the Gloria and Credo were in Plain Chant with a choral arrangement for the "Incarnatus Est," and the "Vitam venturi Sacculi." The remainder of the Mass was from Griesbacher’s Missa Mater Admirabilis in honour of the Feast of Our Lady and the Centenary of the Convent.
The Offertory Motet was an "Ave Maria" for eight-part double choir, by the famous Austrian Composer, Bruckner. This is probably the first time this Motet has been sung outside Central Europe. It was sung at the Zurich Festival last July, and was the only short vocal composition of Bruckner sung at the Bruckner Festival at Linz, 1936.
A huge congregation thronged the Church for the sacred ceremonies, which were followed throughout with rapt attention. At the earlier Masses great numbers received Holy Communion and all during the Quarant Ore period there was a constant stream of worshippers to pay homage to the Blessed Sacrament. The Altar of Repose was beautifully decorated with blooms and flowers, provided by the good Nuns of the Convent of Mercy.
The Sermon
After the first Gospel of the Mass Fr. Counihan, S. J., preached on the Centenary of the foundation of the convent of the Sisters of Mercy at Naas. He said that probably no diocese in Ireland had a finer tradition of convent life than the diocese of Kildare and Leighlin. It was here in this diocese that St. Brigid had her first community of nuns. Within the walls of her monasteries here the young Irish girls not merely learned the beliefs of the newly brought faith of St. Patrick, but were trained in all those arts and sciences necessary for their home life. St. Brigid might well be the foundress of all domestic and vocational schools. A tradition of good Catholic motherhood must have begun in those far off days that persisted down through the centuries despite dark and difficult times. In the last century this tradition received an impetus from that trinity of great foundresses, Nano Nagle, Catherine Macauley and Mary Aikenhead who founded the congregations of Presentation, Mercy and Charity nuns.
Ninth Foundation
This Convent in Naas was the ninth foundation of Catherine Macauley. Here in this spot had gone on for one hundred years that convent life which had helped so considerably to model and shape our Irish girls into valiant women-true followers of Mary of the Gael. It is good for us today to examine into the work of our nuns here and so be well informed in this age of lying propaganda and disgusting insinuation. What had this Convent done? What had been its output for God and for Ireland?
First and before all this Convent has sent up an interrupted prayer to God. Every convent is a power-house of prayer. Just as you see our country covered with a network of wires and transforming stations to give people light, heat and work energy, so too our country is thickly sprinkled with religious foundations that draw down God’s grace to illuminate, enkindle and energise souls for the advancement of Christ’s Kingdom.
Here too the Sisters of Mercy have in sunshine and in shower looked after the sick and poor. In the cholera years they tended those stricken by the awful disease and ministered by the bedside of the dying. With what charity they did so you yourselves were witnesses during the epidemic of flu in 1918.
Furthermore during all these hundred years the young girls of the parish have all learned their Faith, and have been trained to go out into life well equipped for their work in every calling. From this Convent girls have gone to spread the faith at home and abroad fired with the spirit of zeal and enthusiasm that was kindled here by the Nuns. Back to this Convent in all their difficulties and sorrows and disappointments girls could always go knowing that the warmest of warm hearts were there to help them. And when as mothers of families they brought their young children to the Sisters of Mercy, they knew that they were placing them in the safest of safe keeping.
But the sisters have done much more than all this for God and Eire. They have given and give today-what our country needs most-a striking example of thrift and industry. Criticism is sometimes today levelled at all Religious foundations both of men and women. Why these magnificent buildings, these extensive lands, these beautiful gardens? People forget that these are the result of great industry, thrift and hard work-all blessed by Almighty God. Girls, who could have settled down in comfortable homes, gave themselves and their fortune to God. Whenever you gaze upon a beautiful convent such as this one in Naas remember that it is the accumulation of years of work and thrift, that it is all for God and the extension of his Kingdom on earth, that it is for our Catholic Nation, that it is for your parish here, for your children. It has been built, and is carried on, by love and sacrifice. It is the fulfilment of Christ’s words to his own disciples-"Amen, I say to you, that you who have followed Me and have left house or brethren or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands for my name’s sake, shall receive a hundred fold and shall possess life everlasting.
Years of Glorious Work
With joy and gratitude we ask you all to join in our good wishes today to these dear daughters of Catherine Macauley in Naas, on the completion of a hundred years of glorious work for faith and fatherland.
Show your gratitude to the community in a practical way. First of all, pray for them and their work. Prayer, in the words of our late Holy Father, is the first, the second and the third need in the Church of Christ. Then co-operate with them in their training of the young. Keep the girls regularly at school so that the work may go on steadily and satisfactorily. Leave your girls at school here until they are sixteen years of age and over. The Nuns have now in very recent times opened a Secondary School. Avail yourselves of the inestimable advantages of the entirely religious atmosphere of this school, so necessary to your girls in their dangerous years. It is a pity that so many of the boys and girls quit the educational system of the Nuns and Brothers at too early an age in order to prepare in vocational schools for careers in business, office and factory. Co-education during these years is undesirable. We have got on well in the past without it. It may be all very well for the very young, but if it can be avoided at the age of secondary pupils it certainly should be, and is, in all our Nuns and Brothers schools and colleges. We have heard and read of the failures in Faith and morality of girls who leave our shores, and I have heard it suggested, though I do not entirely subscribe to the opinion that such failure may be due to lack of control at this dangerous age because the girls have not continued on and completed their course in the Convent Schools. You can co-operate too by upholding in the homes the authority of the Sisters. Discipline is much needed today. Don’t love the bodies of your children more than their souls. Think more of the adornment of their souls by all Christian virtues than of the adornment of their bodies.
The Sisters of Mercy have stood the Parish well. It is for the parish today to stand faithfully by the Sisters. They are standing by you today as Mary stood by the Cross of Jesus, for they know that in ministering to you they are ministering unto Him. They have taken on the mantle of Mary’s Motherhood conferred on them, through Mary, on Calvary, and no one can say that they have failed in one iota to carry out that commission. We all unite with the Sisters today in singing to the Lord-
"Praise the Lord all ye nations;
Praise Him all ye peoples."
Mission Success
The Mission for Naas, conducted by the Jesuit Fathers, continues to be a wonderful success, and throughout the week there were magnificent attendances at the morning and evening devotions. The Mission will conclude on Sunday next.

Leinster Leader article of the  30 September 1939 on the occasion of the Centenary of the Sisters of Mercy in Naas.

[Compiled by Mario Corrigan; typed and edited by Niamh McCabe; final edit Dee O'Brien]

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