Yesterday (Wednesday) marked the end of an era for the Sisters of St Joseph of Cluny and indeed the wider Ferbane community, as the four remaining Sisters moved out of Gallen Priory.
As the Novitiate House for all Sisters of St Joseph of Cluny from Ireland and Great Britain, the priory saw more than 1,000 Sisters from as far afield as Africa, Seychelles and Madigascar professed during its active years from 1921 to the late 1970s.
After a spell as a boarding school, Gallen Priory has since then become a nursing home with one wing reserved for the remaining Sisters.
Yeseterday those Sisters said goodbye to their home there with a Mass of Thanksgiving, before moving into new quarters in St Joseph’s Convent.
“Gallen Priory was initially our Novitiate,” Provincial Sister Rowena Galvin explained. “It opened 91 years ago, and during that time 1,032 Sisters were professed. They went to all parts of the world, and as a result we’ve got some great schools, hospitals, dispensaries and advocacy groups, and pastoral work of all kinds.
“It all began here in Ferbane,” she added, “and that’s what we were remembering and thanking God for.”
A Mass of Thanksgiving in the priory chapel at noon yesterday was celebrated by Bishop Colm Reilly, Fr Frankie Murray and Fr Tom Cox, with former Gallen Priory Sisters Brid Dolan, Bernadette Turley, Perpetua Curry and Marie Boyle in attendance along with about 60 retired missionaries of the Sisters of St Joseph of Cluny and Gallen Priory proprieters Jim and Anne McCrystal.
A meal by the Black Boot in Ferbane was served afterwards, before Sisters Brid, Bernadette and Perpetua moved into their new home.
“It’s the end of an era,” Sister Rowena said, adding that “a huge amount has been achieved by those who went through here.”