On 18 March 2015 Mary Aikenhead was declared Venerable by Pope Francis. Friend of the Poor: Mary Aikenhead explores the life and charism of Mary and reveals how this nineteenth century woman’s extraordinary faith in God and her total dedication to service of the poor has placed her firmly on the path towards Sainthood.
This book reflects on the influences which shaped Mary’s character and inspired her unconditional response to the call of God in her life. This call involved turning her back on a life of comfort and privilege in order to give herself totally to a life of service to those suffering from poverty, illiteracy and illness.
An examination of the many-faceted aspects of Mary’s character reveals a woman with an extraordinary love of God together with energy, determination, creativity and fearlessness in face of the immense challenges associated with her role as foundress. Being the unique and gifted person that she was meant that she acted as a powerful catalyst for engaging others in her innovative and creative projects in caring for the poor who were otherwise overlooked because of a total lack of social services in her day.
Severe physical suffering which left Mary invalided for the last twenty-seven years of her life did not stop her from continuing to open new furrows in her outreach and innovation. Added to this, in spite of immense pain associated with writing, she continued to advise from her wheelchair, sending letters of advice and encouragement to the sisters in the various foundations.
Mary was a holy and charismatic woman. Her legacy to the Church and to the world lives on today in the many Religious Sisters of Charity and their colleagues across the globe who continue to be inspired by the love, idealism and compassion of Venerable Mary Aikenhead.
Rosaleen Crossan is a Religious Sister of Charity living in Dublin who has been involved in teaching Religion and English in secondary schools over a number of years. She is currently engaged as chaplain in St Joseph’s Secondary School, Stanhope Street, Dublin.