Saturday 25 May 2019

Franciscan nuns take up where friars left off

Eileen Murphy, Marie Coyle and Moira Devitt, the three Franciscan Sisters who have arrived to the Franciscan Friary. Picture: Paul Mohan/Newsfile

A NEW phase of the Franciscan orders association with Drogheda began this week with the coming of three Franciscan sisters to the town.

Their arrival comes in the wake of the recent departure from Drogheda of the Franciscan friars who had been based in the area for almost 750 years.

The three members of the Sisters of the Franciscan Missionaries of the Divine Motherhood (FMDM) will operate from the former friary in Laurence Street and will no doubt know the locality well - two of the three are originally from the town.

Born in Dundalk, Sr. Eileen Murphy moved to Drogheda as a child and was the daughter of Owen Murphy, formerly the town’s ISPCC officer and Mrs. Murphy. She was educated at the Presentation school, Duke Street and specialises in the area of adult literacy.

Sr. Moira Devitt meanwhile also attended the Duke Street school and spent her childhood years in the family home in Thomas Street. One of 10 children, her brother Charlie, sister Mary and other sister Mrs. Downey live locally.

The final member of the trio is Sr. Marie Coyle who is a trained radiographer and originally from Plymouth, England. All three have spent time working as missionaries in Africa but have been based in Ballinasloe for the last few years before their appointment to Drogheda.

The sisters admitted to being nervous at the challenges facing them in their role as the town’s first Franciscan sisters. ‘It is a great challenge and while there is bound to be apprehension, it is special for me to come back to my town’, Sr. Devitt commented.

They also agreed that the departure of the friars had left a large void which they would not be able to fill. ‘We will not be able to fulfill the need of people who were used to Mass here and to meeting in the church but we will be aiming to bridge the gap’ commented Sr. Marie.

‘For the people to whom it has been like a home here we will not be the same I am sure. We will be different, but also something new, offering new life I hope.’

She also felt that the role of the sisters would be a flexible one from now on, serving the needs of the community as they suggest themselves. ‘We come here to be a presence by the life we lead. We hope that this will be an open house where people are able to come and use the facilities, to be able to find people to talk to, to listen, something very important these days.’

The former friary’s meeting room will be available to all interested groups and the sisters hope to see it used by as many organisations as possible. ‘We will be here to help people if they want it. Those groups who were here before will be welcome here again, along with any others who want to get in touch with us about it.’