BY Ryan McDougall | June 7 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print

Fond farewells as Daughters of Charity prepare to leave Ayr

They’ve been a part of Ayr parishioners’ lives for generations, but the Daughters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul have announced their convent in the town is to close at the end of July this year.

The Sisters have an international presence with five houses in Scotland, part of a total of 31 across the UK, but now Catholics of Galloway Diocese are bidding a fond farewell to the convent.

Sr Ellen Flynn, provincial of the Daughters of Charity in the UK, said the decision to close the convent was not taken lightly and follows a shortage of vocations, but that they are confident the Sisters will be able to continue their work in helping the poor elsewhere as they join other convents in Scotland.


A tough decision

“Because of our current realities around a lack of vocations with our mission to work with people in poverty or with disabilities, we’re having to reorganise where our communities are to maximise our potential,” she said.

“We are hoping to renew our mission in Scotland so that there’s a mission heart in the country.

“Whenever we withdraw from somewhere it’s really sad. The Sisters in Ayr are very dedicated to their work.

“Fr David Borland from St Margaret’s Cathedral in Ayr is really sad about it. It’s hard all round, but the Sisters know we have to do this as we’re spread too thinly and need to centralise.”

She added: “You touch so many people’s lives at important times in this vocation, so it was a very difficult choice to make.”


Small numbers

Historically, the Fotheringham Road convent has had a community of four Sisters working to help the less fortunate throughout the area, but it now has just two Religious.

The move follows the closure of a convent in Dumfries which was known to have had a strong ministry valued by locals.

Sr Flynn said that the number of vocations is declining because ‘religious life as we know it is changing.’


Something fresh

She added: “It’s God’s job to call us to a vocation—it’s not something we can do ourselves. And if the Holy Spirit isn’t doing that at the moment it’s not God’s plan, and we mustn’t get in the way of it as it’ll give way to something fresh.”

Mass will be celebrated by Bishop William Nolan of Galloway for Ayr’s Daughters of Charity on Monday June 17 at 7pm at St Margaret’s Cathedral to thank the Sisters for their many years of service to the town’s parishes and those in need who live locally.

The Daughters of Charity were founded by St Vincent de Paul in 1633 to provide aid for the poor and this is a role they still maintain today across the country.


A ‘huge loss’

Fr David Borland, administrator of St Margaret’s Cathedral and parish priest of St Paul’s and St Francis Xavier’s churches, said: “The imminent departure of the Sisters from our parish communities is a huge loss.

“They have served the people of Ayr with great devotion and dedication over the years and have done so with great humility and little recognition.

“In line with their charism they have sought out those on the periphery of our society and have shown them great love, respect and compassion. There is a real sadness in many hearts in Ayr just now.”


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