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Honouring Sister Angela Bugler rsm

22 June 2017

South Central


                          Honouring Sister Angela Bugler

‘It is ‘the best of times and the worst of times’!

During these past months and years, religious in this country have been receiving much criticism from the media with little support in the form of different voices from the Irish public.  Every other day either on radio or in the print media, we hear again and again what people perceive to be our ‘past sins’.  Very few have spoken of the contribution of religious women, even with their shadow, to our country.  We have grown used to negative reactions all around us.

And so it came like a ray of sunshine into the darkness, like water on dry ground!  It was so uplifting, so positive, so life giving we could hardly believe it. At last one of us was honoured and her major contribution to education in this country was being recognised, honoured and celebrated.  Every one of us present felt a surge of joy and gladness, of hope and of pride in Angela. 

On April 26th, 2017, to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the academic linkage between Mary Immaculate College and the University of Limerick, established in 1991, the university conferred on Angela an Honorary Doctorate of Letters in recognition for her immense contribution as President of Mary Immaculate College to the college at a very significant time in its history and for her part in the linkage between the two institutions.  In 1988 when Angela became President of MIC, the College was facing ‘a critical challenge for survival.’ 



Don Barry, President Emeritus of U.L., Vincent Roche who was conferred with an honorary degree of Doctor of Engineering, Angela Bugler rsm who was conferred with the honorary degree of Doctor of Letters. 

The following is a summary of comments from the Citation for the Conferring of her Doctorate by UL.

“A sharp decline in the Irish birth rate in the 1980s had resulted in a huge drop in demand for primary teachers.  Thus the challenges facing Angela as president of MIC were great.  Not only were student numbers and staff morale extremely low, but also the very future of the college was uncertain.  Angela faced these daunting challenges with courage and commitment.  She and her staff embarked on an ambitious diversification programme.  Plans included proposals for the introduction of a Liberal Arts degree (unprecedented in a College of Education) and postgraduate degrees as well as curriculum development, second chance education and education research.  She initiated a broad internationalisation programme by establishing networks with colleges in Europe, the United States and Wales.  Student numbers began to increase greatly in MIC, thus injecting new life and enthusiasm. 

The University of Limerick was inaugurated in Limerick in 1989.  At the instigation of the Department of Education MIC opened discussions with UL with a view to establishing a formal relationship between the two institutions.  “Angela played a pivotal role in initiating and progressing this process.  This is her legacy and it is still significant today”.  The results of this arrangement is that up to this day 3,500 students have been conferred with Arts Degrees in MIC by UL.  As part of this development Angela oversaw the delivery of the first taught Masters Programme in Education.  Since then, the breath of postgraduate students at MIC has accelerated – the first PhD scholar was conferred in 2003 and the 100th in 2015. 

Before becoming president, Angela lectured in MIC and was the College’s first professional librarian.  In 1984 she was appointed Rúnaí Acadúil, serving as Academic Secretary to the president of the college until her appointment as president in 1988. 

Throughout her long career, Angela made an enormous contribution to the development of MIC.  “In doing this she laid the foundation for the thriving situation that now exists in MIC, and the new and exciting programmes that have been made possible because of the resourcefulness and spirit of cooperation that defines Sister Angela’s legacy as President of MIC”.  

The citation concludes with the words “Today, at the University of Limerick, it is with immense gratitude and pride that we honour Sister Angela for all that she had achieved for the betterment of both institutions.” 

The magnificent conferring ceremony was attended by Angela’s family, her friends, her community and the wider Mercy family.  We watched her take part in the entrance procession dressed in her doctoral robes, we listened with pride as the Citation was being read, we congratulated her and shared our joy with each other as we enjoyed the refreshments and just being together in a positive atmosphere where the staff of UL warmly welcomed us with hospitality and graciousness .

Angela herself rejoices, not only in all that she has contributed, but in the knowledge that it was not just Angela and her staff, but the Lord who has worked marvels through her.  And indeed we are glad!

                                                                                       Geraldine Collins rsm.

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