End of an Era for St Mary’s Home as New Venture Dawns
Archbishop Michael Jackson celebrated the final Service of Holy Communion in St Mary’s Home today (Friday November 29) heralding the end of an era and the start of a new chapter for residents and staff. The home in Pembroke Park, Dublin 2, is due to close shortly but the work of St Mary’s will continue.
St Mary’s Home, St John’s House on Merrion Road and the former Molyneux Home, are embarking on a joint venture with a new state of the art facility being built on a site at St John’s House. Each of the homes will have a floor named after them in the new facility, which is already accommodating residents.
St Mary’s was traditionally home to the Sisters of the Virgin Mary who ran a school for girls whose parents could not afford school fees. They moved to Pembroke Park in 1892. Later, many members of the Sisterhood moved to St John’s Sandymount where the Community of St John the Evangelist was established in 1912. Some of the Sisters stayed in St Mary’s teaching until 1925 when the school moved to the Shelbourne Road. St Mary’s then became a hospice which was run by the nuns and later again it would become a general nursing home under Church of Ireland management. In more recent years the home came under the HSE and the nuns of the Community of St John the Evangelist were invited back to live and work there. (They had moved to Wales to run a retreat centre.)
The Community officially closed in 2009 and today there is only one nun remaining. Sr Verity Anne is the last Church of Ireland nun. She has lived in St Mary’s for many years but is looking forward to the move. Recalling the centenary commemoration of the founding of the Community of St John the Evangelist, which took place in the nearby St Bartholomew’s Church in 2012, she said with a smile: “I’m the only one left”. She added that the demise of the Community is a great loss.
Former Archdeacon of Dublin and chairperson of the St Mary’s Association, the Ven Gordon Linney, explained that it had been important to bring the nuns back to St Mary’s to ensure that their work could continue. He said that the St Mary’s building was dated and the work of the nuns would continue in one of the best facilities in the country. Funds from St Mary’s will be used to develop a new chapel at the St John’s facility. He pledged that the values that had been held dear at St Mary’s Home would continue to be upheld.
Archbishop Jackson said it was a pleasure to join the residents and staff of St Mary’s each year and it was a particular privilege to be there on the day that marked the end of one chapter and the beginning of another. He thanked the Vicar of St Bartholomew’s, Canon Andrew McCroskery, for his tireless work at St Mary’s, not only in serving the spiritual needs of the community but engaging with their needs as they transition to a new community.
He thanked Sr Verity Anne and the staff for the countless memories from the home and its chapel. “That this chapter in the life of St Mary’s concludes with celebration as well as recognition that something new is going to happen is a tribute to the management and staff,” he said.