Celebrating our Bi-centenary in Airdrie
The community of Sisters of Charity in Airdrie, Scotland had busy time earlier in the year preparing a celebration to mark the 200th anniversary of the Congregation for the many people of Lanarkshire who have supported them since 1957, when the first Hospice opened its doors in Airdrie. Here the sisters tell us about their celebration.
“As a community we set about to prepare for an afternoon to celebrate our Bi-centenary. The experience of preparation involved some ambitious ideas, to open our house and garden to the parish – indeed, to the deanery because down through the years the sisters have been known far and wide and because of the involvement of many of the priests with St Andrew’s Hospice both in the past and today.
However because of expected large numbers, unpredictable weather and lack of space to cater adequately we had to abandon the idea of using the convent and had the refreshments in the parish hall instead. We were disappointed at having to do this but actually it was the right thing to do. The space was just right and allowed us to include other things which we could not have done in the convent.
People in Airdrie have devotion to Mary Aikenhead which was passed on to them by our sisters down the years so this was a great opportunity for them to join with us in our celebration.
Finally after much preparation the 21st June arrived and the afternoon began with Mass in the parish church. The church was full as Mass started. The celebrant was Fr Terence Chi, a visiting priest from the Cameroon. He was standing in for our parish priest who had a commitment in Rome. Although Fr Terence had just arrived in the parish he entered fully into the celebration. In his homily he spoke of Mary Aikenhead and said for her it was about faithfulness rather than fruitfulness as she began the Congregation, the fruitfulness was to come later as a result. We had an organist and a soloist from the parish and this allowed us to have some music which was not familiar to everyone such as the Salve Regina at the end of Mass.
After Mass about 100 people came to the hall where a buffet was served. It was also Father’s Day so we had apologies from others who had plans to celebrate with their families.
It is hard to capture the spirit that existed in the hall during the meal. It was a delightful afternoon. The people enjoyed the food and were delighted to be together and there was much laughter and sharing of memories and appreciation expressed for the work done by the sisters over the years. All of this was helped by two short DVDs that were shown during that time, one of the opening of Assumption House when the sisters first came – the forerunner of today’s hospice – and the other of the story of Mary Aikenhead. The first DVD stirred memories of the event in 1957 and there was recognition within the hall of family members among those who attended the opening. There was great joy expressed by some who recognised themselves on the film when they were young. Afterwards there were requests for copies of the DVD and requests later came from others not able to attend our celebration to view it, so news of the film had travelled!
For us as a community it was a truly great day. Much work had gone in to the preparation of the various aspects of the celebration. Each one had generously played their part in bringing everything together.
There were moments of apprehension, even panic for some of us! Will there be enough food? Will this or that go okay? But our good God, true to his promises, provided abundantly everywhere. As one member of the community put it in a comment ‘The wonderful, simple way all our plans came together to make the day most enjoyable’. “