Bring Navan to the Congress and the Congress to Navan

At the end of June Saint Mary's Parish, Navan closed a week of ceremonies with the Stations of the Cross.  "Bring Navan to the Congress and the Congress to Navan" was the title of the weeks events;  so each evening the theme of the Congress in Dublin was reflected upon.  It included a report from the Congress and speakers addressing the theme.  On Friday 22nd June the ceremony was led by Bishop Smith and included the blessing and opening of new stations of the Cross in Saint Anne's Garden.

Over the last few months I (Fionnuala IBVM) had looked on with great interest as I saw the development of what I had known as the convent garden.  As I saw new gates being installed and the last of the beech trees being felled I wondered what shape it would take and was this the final chapter of Saint Anne's.

During the ceremony Fr. Declan Hurley informed us that a set of Stations of the Cross had been carved from the beech trees.  As we returned to the church from the blessing of the Stations, a presentation was made by Bishop Smith to the Loreto Sisters present (Srs. Maria Barry, Kathleen Cooke and myself, Fionnuala) of a wooden carving of the Assumption of Our Lady.  Both Bishop Smith and Fr. Declan Hurley paid tribute to Loreto and how much they gave to the life of the parish and beyond.  They also acknowledged how difficult it must have been to make the decision to close St. Anne's Convent.  Fr. Hurley then shared his hope that the reopening of Saint Anne's garden would be living testimony to the work of Loreto in Navan and an expression of gratitude of the many generations that had passed through the school.  He went on to say that the garden would once again be a place of prayer and solace for the people of the parish.

I found myself being transported to childhood memories of pleasant fun and games, only permitted of course after such special occasions as First Communion and Confirmation.  Of course as seniors - age 12 - we had a little more access to the garden.

After the ceremony Eric Flanagan talked to the three of us of his delight on being asked to do this work and also explained the carving that was presented to us.  He told us that he had used a branch of one of the beech trees.  He took great pride in informing Maria and Kathleen that he was a past pupil of Saint Anne's, at this stage I wondered how much more he would divulge.  My path crossed with Eric's many years ago, but that's for another day!.