Our Holy Faith Heritage and St Brigid
Sr. Veronica Maguire
Sr. Veronica, a Holy Faith Sister, reflects upon the impact St. Brigid had upon the Congregation of the Holy Faith Sisters:
Our Founders, Margaret Aylward and Fr John Gowan CM, a Vincentian Priest, had devotion to St Brigid and placed the Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Faith under her protection.
Margaret Aylward was devoted to St Brigid with whom she felt a kindred spirit, in Brigid’s service of the underprivileged. She believed that the Holy Faith Sisters were continuing this service in the Ireland of her time. All our early primary schools were placed under the patronage of St Brigid.
Fr Gowan’s devotion to St Brigid went back to his youth when, as a twelve-year old on an errand for his mother in his native Skerries, he took a short cut through the fields and coming to a stile had a vision of three figures poised in mid-air. “As I approached the style the three figures descended, and we all reached the stile at the same time. They were the Blessed Virgin, St Joseph and St Brigid”. He never spoke of the vision, but in later life he shared with a relative that that was the moment when he received the call to be a priest. Such an encounter must have had a profound influence on him.
When St. Brigid’s Orphanage, the ‘boarding out’ system, was established to give destitute children a home, Fr Gowan proposed naming it in honour of St. Brigid. His reason was that, during his missionary work abroad, he saw and heard the poor victims of the Famine jeered and mocked and called ‘Irish Biddies’ So, he vowed to rectify that by making the name Brigid a name of honour in the world.
Today we thank God that, through our Founders’ interest and devotion to St Brigid, we are under her patronage. May she spread her mantle over us and the wider Vincentian family as together we bring her faith, her compassion for the marginalized, and her respect for the earth to our ministries.
ST BRIGID`S BLESSING
May no fire, no flame burn us.
May no lake, no sea drown us.
May no sword, no spear wound us.
May no king, no chief insult us.
May all the birds sing for us
May all the cattle low for us
May all the insects buzz for us
May the angels of God always protect us.