On October 5th 1987, two sisters of the Congregation of Marie Reparatrice, an international and missionary order, left a warmer London for Kilmarnock to take on pastoral work in Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church as agreed with Bishop Taylor. Our sisters had already been involved in various ministries in the east of Scotland over a period of a hundred years but this was our first mission in the west of Scotland.
The priests of Our Lady of Mount Carmel parish had arranged with East Ayrshire council to rent a house for us within the parish area. Fr. Kevin O’ Shaughnessy and Fr. Terry Tully welcomed us and initiated us to life in Onthank, north west Kilmarnock. Fr. Kevin was most conscientious in caring for us and visited us frequently at 4 Mosside Place.
We are involved in various pastoral commitments such as Sacramental preparation of adults for reception into the Church and of children for First Holy Communion and Confirmation, organising children’s liturgy and being active members of the diocesan and parish pastoral councils. Visiting the housebound and sick in their homes, nursing homes and hospitals is very much a priority in our ministry .We take an active role in encouraging the youth of our parish to become involved in their parish and in local projects. The issue of Ecumenism is very close to our hearts so we both attend inter- church prayer services and planning meetings in Kilmarnock and Stewarton. Added to these commitments we see ourselves as enabling the laity to discover their gifts and to use them in the service of others, thus ensuring the lively and well- ordered running of the parish.
Over the past twenty years, the Diocese of Galloway has been challenged to face and consider the grave shortage of priests. This challenge called for the development of a vision and appropriate structures that enabled the clergy being more effective in their ministry. Thus in 1997, Bishop Taylor decided with the support of his priests that the time had come to invite religious sisters to reside in the vacant Chapel House of Our Lady and St. Johns in Stewarton. Following, much dialogue between Bishop Taylor and our Provincial, Sister Teresa Nolan took up residence in Stewarton. Bishop Taylor had defined her role as Pastoral Co-Ordinator. At the same time, two of our sisters continued a ministry in Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church until 1999. In 2001, Sister Imelda James came from Ireland to join Sister Teresa and together they took on the above mentioned ministries in both parishes.
The shortage of priests in our diocese became more evident in 2007 when Our Lady Of Mount Carmel parish could not have a resident priest. Bishop Cunningham in dialogue with our Provincial agreed with our request to move to a more central Chapel House as one priest Father Eddie McGhee was now responsible for three parishes. We embraced this change which had a positive side for us - a large house and two garages.
Soon we settled into our new abode which is a place of welcome and hospitality for so many people who by their dedication to parish life, prayer and friendship, make it truly a hive of activity. The parishioners show outstanding generosity and have a strong sense of ownership towards the parish, complimenting and enhancing the priest’s and sisters’ roles rather than diminishing them.
A further challenge to us became evident in 2011 when due to the unavailability of our parish priest Father Eddie on several occasions, we were needed to take on funerals such as reception of the body, Church service, cremation service and burials.
Our outreach activities involve us attending regular meetings and conferences organised by the National Conference of Religious, the National Safeguarding Conference, the Archdiocese Conference of Justice and Peace and our own Congregation.
We sisters past and present recall with gratitude the support, encouragement and appreciation given to us by the clergy and parishioners of our local parishes. We are deeply indebted to the various groups who are always available to offer their services when needed. Our ministry in the diocese is challenging , life giving and fulfilling. We try to live our Reparatrice vocation through our presence and Ministry, revealing the tenderness of God’s love and compassion to those whom we meet. In the joy, peace and mercy of Christ, we face whatever each day brings with a sense of gratitude for the many gifts received. . Following on from twenty six years of service in the diocese, we continue our commitment to the building of God’s kingdom.
( More information on our Congregation on SMR.org)