Venerable Mary Aikenhead
Pope Francis honours Founder of The Religious Sisters of Charity
The Congregation of the Religious Sisters of Charity are delighted to announce that their foundress Mary Aikenhead has been declared Venerable by Pope Francis.
Being declared Venerable is the second of four steps in the Catholic Church’s Canonisation process.
When Mary Aikenhead set up her Congregation two hundred years ago, there were just over 100 Sisters in Ireland, all of whom lived as enclosed contemplatives behind convent walls. Mary applied to Rome for permission for her Sisters to take a fourth vow of ‘Service of the Poor’, enabling them to visit poor people in their own homes; those who were sick and hungry and cold and penniless and no one to turn to.
Throughout the world today there are more than 400 Religious Sisters of Charity in Ireland, England, Scotland, Zambia, California, Nigeria, Malawi and 145 in Australia.
“Mary Aikenhead was a woman ahead of her time” says Sr Mary Christian, Congregational Leader of the Religious Sisters of Charity “All around her she saw the plight of people who were poor and suffering. Her great faith and trust in Divine Providence enabled her and the first Religious Sisters of Charity to provide education for poor children, establish medical facilities for those in need of health care and to visit the sick and poor in their homes. In one of her letters we read that the sole purpose of the Congregation is: ‘to lend our humble assistance to alleviate the sufferings of the poor of every creed.’ Mary Aikenhead’s life was not easy, but she never lost hope. Her life teaches and inspires us to dream courageous visions, to have compassion for human pain, to analyse unjust structures which are the cause of poverty, to work with others to solve problems and to remain resolute in the face of hardship.”
For more information please visit the Congregation’s website at: www.rsccaritas.org