For the last time in its long history Mass was celebrated in the church at St. James’s hospital on 15th September, 2015. This church has served patients, staff members, and the surrounding neighbourhood down through the years, our Sisters worshiped there in the days when the hospital was the Workhouse, the South Dublin Union and eventually St. Kevin’s Hospital. Times have moved on and the church will make way for the new Children’s Hospital.
St. James’s Church
Members of Administration, staff representatives, invited guests and neighbours were present at the celebration. The Mass was a reflective and moving experience celebrated by the Head Chaplain Fr. Gough. At the offertory procession three candles were offered, these symbolised the medical excellence that was, that is and that will continue to be the hallmark of the hospital. A register of births from the earliest days was presented by a neighbour. A globe was carried to mark the worldwide contribution in the field of medicine to which the hospital can proudly lay claim. During the service soft soothing music rendered by a harpist and a soprano added to the dignity and poignancy of the occasion. All those present carried a candle in thanksgiving for all that the church had been to them at a personal level.
When the congregation had slowly exited the church the large iron key that had opened and locked the church from the earliest days was turned for the last time. This was truly a memorable and moving experience for all present.
Now the time had come to bless the new place of worship – Camino Rest – to where the procession thoughtfully wended its way. Camino Rest as its name signifies is designed to be a place of respite, a place of quiet worship in a modern setting. Prayers were offered by the leaders of different faiths. The solemn blessing was carried out by the Church of Ireland chaplain who prayed that this new building would be a place for people of faith, for people of no faith, a place of healing and peace for all.
Later, when people had admired this now holy spot, welcome refreshments were served. As can be easily imagined there was lots of reminiscing on bygone days and many a jog down “bóithrín na smaointe”!
This was the second time that a key was solemnly turned on the same campus. The first time was July 4th 1963. That morning the Blessed Sacrament was removed from the tabernacle of the convent of The Sisters of Mercy. The Sisters gathered outside while the key of the convent that had been the dwelling place of the Sisters since 1881 was turned for the last time. Sisters had laboured there from 1881 and lived through what was known as The South Dublin Union in days of great hardship for the people who were poor in Dublin and through the changes that turned it into St. Kevin’s Hospital which was later renamed to become the St. James’s of today.
St. James’s Hospital
The Sisters left a record of kindness, compassion and unflinching dedication in the difficult task they undertook. Their charity, expertise and patience were recognised and valued by all from the “vagabond and sturdy beggar” to the Board of Guardians (cf from A history of two hospitals by Sr. Catherine of Siena).
The Sisters who attended the Mass did so with pride and gratitude for the past, with a certain sadness in the realisation of the transience of all things but with great hope that the future will tend its own light.
Nuala Kennedy rsm
South Central Province