Earning the trust of a few can be hard to achieve and so earning the trust of a worldwide religious order is a considerable feat. This is exactly what Longford’s Sr. Margaret Casey has achieved. Recently, she was elected Congregational Leader of the Sisters of Mercy, a congregation which has 2,282 members living and working in nine countries worldwide.
“It came as a surprise to me. I wouldn’t have been expecting it but I did feel very honoured and privileged. I also felt very humbled,” said Sr Margaret, a daughter of the late Nan and Tommy Casey, Newtownforbes.
Acknowledging the trying times that her congregation and other religious orders face, Sr Margaret believes she has the experience and support needed to meet those challenges.
“I have experienced people I can ask advice of. I know I also have the prayers of many of the Sisters. Whatever comes our way, we will hopefully get through it,” she said.
She continued: “I have previously had the experience of the Ryan Commission and I gave evidence for two institutions at that time. So I do have experience of the pain of all involved.
“Another challenge we face is our diminishing numbers here in Ireland. That is a reality for us.”
On entering the order as a young teenager (1967), Sr. Margaret’s dream was “to serve and to help people”.
“I was attracted to a life of prayer and ministry. And it has been good to me. I have had huge opportunities which I am very grateful for,” she said.
Sr Margaret holds a Primary Degree in Commerce from UCC, a Higher Diploma in Education from NUI Maynooth, and a Masters in Social Work from Queen’s University, Belfast.
The academic sister has, throughout her ministry, taught in some Longford schools, notably St. Joseph’s School, Newtownforbes (until 1985), Lanesboro’s Convent Secondary School and Lanesboro Community College (until 1993).
In 2001, Sr Margaret was elected Provincial Leader of the Sisters of Mercy, Western Province, a role she kept until 2007. At this time she moved to Galway city where she ministered as a local leader in St Vincent’s Mercy Community.
It wasn’t until 2011 that Sr Margaret made the move to Dublin where she now lives in Clondalkin. Since October 2011 she has been the Congregational Treasurer. She will assume her new role as Congregational Leader in October 2012.
Speaking about the highlights of her ministry to date, Sr Margaret said:
“The day I took my vows would be one of them, certainly. I have also special family moments where celebrations took place. The day I was elected Provincial Leader would be another. I also remember fondly days when others were making their vows. It was very enriching and rewarding to share that experience with them.”
She continued: “Another great day for us all was when we became a Congregation in 1994 in Tallaght – all 27 congregations united for the first time.”
The Sisters of Mercy are involved in a variety of ministries such as care of the poor in rural villages in Africa, education, nursing, care of the homeless, working with AIDS patients, ministry to prisoners and those addicted to alcohol and drugs, and providing complimentary therapies.
One of six siblings, many of her family are still based in the Longford area; Elizabeth Brady (Drumlish), Michael Casey (Newtownforbes), Thomas Casey (Casey’s Pub, Newtownforbes), Gerard Casey (Newtownforbes) and Anne Watts (Somerset, England).