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Church honouring the Charities’ Mary

Venerable woman: The Church has declared Mary Aikenhead venerable.

Venerable woman: The Church has declared Mary Aikenhead venerable.

By Emilie Ng

BRISBANE Sister of Charity Suzette Clark is always keen to work with, not just for, the poor, a mantra for which her order’s foundress has been recognised by the Church.

In 1815 Irish woman Mary Aikenhead founded the Religious Sisters of Charity, an order that provided services to Ireland’s suffering poor.

This charism would eventually become the fourth vow taken by hundreds of women who entered the congregation.

This year Mary Aikenhead was declared venerable, the second of four steps towards sainthood in the Church.

Sisters of Charity nuns around the world watched a live stream of a Mass in honour of Venerable Mary Aikenhead held at the Church of the Holy Family, Dublin, Ireland, on April 27.

This coincided with the religious congregation’s 200th anniversary celebrations.

Sr Clark is among the Australian members of the order rejoicing over the news that their foundress is another step closer to sainthood.

She said the sisters’ work with the poor was their greatest work.

“For me, service of the poor is not primarily an action or even a choice of a less affluent lifestyle, but a commitment to work to change the unjust economic, social and political structures which determine how power and resources are shared in the world and in society,” Sr Clark said.

“It will include an ‘option for the poor’, a choice to disentangle myself from serving the interests of those at the top of society and to begin instead to come into solidarity with those at or near the bottom.

“Such a choice means commitment to working and living within structures and agencies that promote the interests of the less favoured sectors of society.”

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