It was a fitting day to acknowledge the tremendous work that popular local nun Sr Maria Brady has contributed to community life in Roscrea since 1947. Originally from Co Cavan, Sr Maria has travelled all over the world since her profession day and has helped communities as far away as Australia, prosper during the intervening years. Sr.Maria also served in Scotland and throughout Ireland before she finally settled in Roscrea in the 1970’s. Since then Sr. Maria has embraced local community groups and organisations. However it is her great work with St Cronan’s Association, Roscrea, that will surely be one of her greatest legacies. Sr. Maria who helped establish what was then St Cronan’s Workshop was a key player in helping the organisation push forward from humble origins to what is now one of the most progressive services in the area.
Sr Maria Brady is joined by her sister Eilish at the cutting of a cake in St Cronan’s on Tuesday last to celebrate Sr Brady’s sixty years service to communities around the world.
Fr Lorcan Kenny who said mass in honour of Sr Maria said her persistence and dedication to her role in local communities over the years was outstanding. Fr Lorcan told those gathered for the afternoon of celebrations, that Sr Maria has touched the hearts of hundreds of people who will always be grateful to her for the difference she has made to their lives. On a personal level, Fr Lorcan said he himself, has seen the tremendous positive influence that Sr Maria has made to members of Roscrea Youth Club, St. Anne’s and students from the Colaite Phobal. He spoke of her commitment to “Spread” and of his admiration of her persistence when she was pursuing something to enhance the lives of others.
The General Manager of St Cronan’s Patsy King said it was an honour and a great pleasure for St Cronan’s to be involved with Sr Maria’s Diamond Jubilee Anniversary. Patsy welcomed Sr Maria, her family especially Eilish and Tommy, and her many friends to St Cronan’s and thanked Sr Maria for allowing all those gathered to be part of a truly great celebration.
Mary Smith, Chairperson of the Board of Management of St Cronan’s said the organisation started from very humble origins where its only chance of survival depended upon people like Sr. Maria who with their dedication and commitment over the years helped to provide a service to all those attending St. Cronan’s. The Chairperson said with no money from the state in the early years, it was vital for St Cronan’s that people like Sr Maria Brady stepped into the breach and helped care for all the clients that began to emerge. She recalled Sr. Maria’s tremendous work in the kitchen in St Cronan’s. The Chairperson said she recalls those days quiet often and remembers how Sr. Maria went about her work with no complaints despite so few resources available to her. She said the kitchen in those days was very basic with a very old aga range. Now she said we have a state of the art kitchen. Mary Smith concluded by thanking Sr Maria for her unselfish work and wished her long years of happiness.
Patrick Collins (St Cronan’s) who was MC for the afternoon then called upon Sr Maria to say a few words. Sr Maria said she was overwhelmed by the whole occasion. She said she was delighted to see so many friendly faces and invited them all to enjoy the afternoon with her. Sr Maria recalled her willingness to get involved with St. Cronan’s when the opportunity presented itself almost thirty years ago. Like Mary Smith, Sr Maria recalled that what they had was little and that it took a lot of innovation to make the best of what they had. Sr Maria fondly recalled establishing a bakery in St Cronan’s and teaching the new clients how to bake and make commodities that could be sold to local shops, such as bread and cakes. This little enterprise in itself demonstrated the entrepreneurial spirit of Sr Maria and it wasn’t long before the orders came flying in for other sources of confectionary such as buns and scones. Sr Maria recalls that while budgets were tight the little enterprise she helped establish helped to generate some money to ease the struggle. While times were hard, Sr Maria told us they were happy days and everyone just accepted the realities of the time and made the best of what they had. Sr. Maria gleefully recalled a number of instances where she was able to help young clients and the delight she would take afterwards watching them prosper. In conclusion she told us to “Never underestimate a brainwave and the Holy Spirit”. Sr. Maria praised initiatives such as “Spread” and said “we are all just a link in the chain” and for her part she was delighted just to be part of that chain.
The General Manger Patsy King then thanked Fr. Lorcan for his lovely ceremony, Roscrea Folk Group and John Kelly for their wonderful music. She also thanked the Clients, Staff of St. Cronan’s for the work they contributed to this very special occasion and to the Board of Directors for their support. All present were invited inside the centre where a special floral arrangement in the shape of a diamond and made by the staff was presented to Sr. Maria by Mrs Mary Gill one of the founder members of St. Cronan’s. Mrs Gill again spoke of Sr. Maria’s tremendous dedication and of her own pleasure in knowing her. This was followed by the cutting of the cake where Sr. Maria invited her sister to join her.
The celebrations continued with food and lots of chat about the old time, the present day and Sr Maria’s great hopes for the future of St Cronan’s and similar charitable organisations.