Looking back upon fifty years of religious life

Rathcline native Sr Rosaleen Harold (left), a member of the Congregation of the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word, celebrated the Golden Jubilee of her religious profession in San Antonio, Texas recently and she is pictured with Nora Mahon (originally from Ballagh, Newtownforbes - now San Antonio, Texas) and Sr Rosaleen's sister Mary Farrell. All three shared a dormitory in Our Lady's Boarding School, Newtownforbes.
Lanesboro native, Sr Rosaleen Harold of the Congregation of the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate celebrated her Golden Jubilee recently.

Lanesboro native, Sr Rosaleen Harold of the Congregation of the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate celebrated her Golden Jubilee recently.

In May, the nun was joined by family members including her six sisters Mary, Nuala, Evelyn, Geraldine, Bernie and Florence; niece Elaine Farrell; nephew Colin Carberry, his wife Veronica Garza Flores and their daughter Kathleen who travelled from Mexico; niece Grainne Carberry and her daughter Maeve from Toronto, Canada as well as Sr Rosaleen’s cousin Dr John Gordon Harold and his wife Ellen from Los Angeles. Sr Rosaleen’s other two sisters Irene Murphy and Martina Irwin were unable to travel due to family commitments. The happy event took place at the Chapel of the Incarnate Word, San Antonio,

It was 50 years ago when a teary-eyed Kathleen Harold watched the last glimpse of the Irish mainland disappear from sight as she and eight other candidates began the long journey from Cobh to the Motherhouse in San Antonio, Texas. At that time, she had no idea if, or when, she would again touch Irish soil. But she was filled with a desire to dedicate her life to God in the service of others. How this would be lived out she had no idea.

It seems that while God’s call comes to people at different ages, Sr Kathleen’s came early. Her call was “clear, total, spiritual, personal and loving,” she recalled. “I knew then, and I know now, that I was being invited to a life of prayer and service to God’s people. I am certain that the example of my saintly mother and maternal grandmother certainly influenced my decision”.

It is undoubtedly a journey that has taken the highly respected Sister from Rathcline and Brianstown to Paris,Texas, St Louis; Pittsburgh; Mexico; Chimbote and Peru. “I have been privileged to have ministered in clinical nursing and nursing education in Texas,” she added. “But what has been most significant for me, has been my 36 years of missionary life in Peru where I was privileged to work among communities of poor peasants in Chimbote.

“I was in a position there to initiate a formation programme for Peruvian candidates in Lima and my last six years serving on our Congregational General Leadership Team has also given me the opportunity, and the privilege, to experience the rich diversity of cultures in our Congregation and witness the dedication of our members to be the presence of the Incarnate Word to the poor and marginalised in the USA, Mexico, Zambia and Peru.”

Sr Rosaleen Harold has travelled through skyways and on highways; on unpaved back roads and mountain passes; crammed into overcrowded buses and cars; rode on horseback, by donkey and cart; on cattle trucks and by foot. Often her work included visiting detainees (usually innocent) in police stations and overcrowded prisons; the sick in hospitals and makeshift shacks of cardboard and straw; coordinating social services for the poor and indigent through soup kitchens and small vegetable gardens; supporting peasant women in their struggle to have their basic rights recognised and developing local faith in communities that reflected on the Word of God and the call to respond to gospel values in the service of others.

“Jubilee is a privileged moment of grace to look back with gratitude for the past, to discern the present and to project oneself toward the future in order to respond to the new challenges and needs of the people we serve,” she added. “During these 50 years of Consecrated Life, I have experienced the blessings and challenges of our congregational mission envisioned by Bishop Claude Marie Dubuis, who, in 1869, as he contemplated the devastating situation of the people of Texas - due to the Civil War - founded our congregation to take care of the victims of the war and from the outbreak of yellow fever. Today we continue to respond to that same call attending to the poor and marginalised in the USA, Mexico, Peru and Zambia.”