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Papal Gold Cross Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice awarded to Sister Margaret Mary Jordan, RSM, Lisdoonvarna, Co. Clare

His Excellency Archbishop Charles J. Brown Apostolic Nuncio to Ireland  awards the Papal Gold Cross Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice to Sister Margaret Mary Jordan RSM in Lisdoonvarna, Co. Clare.

The Papal Nuncio Charles J. Brown presided and preached at the 11.30am Mass today in the parish Church of Corpus Christi, Lisdoonvarna. After Holy Communion he presented, on behalf of the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI, the rare and prestigious honour Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice to Sister Margaret Mary Jordan of the local community of the Sisters of Mercy.

With this award Archbishop Brown expressed the Pope’s deep gratitude and esteem to Sister Margaret Mary “for her lifetime of cheerful witness to the Catholic faith and her illustrious zeal in serving God’s people in the field of education.” He also highlighted the huge contribution of the courageous, strong and loving women of the Sisters of Mercy at home and abroad in serving Christ in the poor and the humble. “Most of these sisters have devoted their entire lives to the service of others, often in unimaginably poor conditions, and without any thought for their own comfort or profit”.

About 800 people gathered to express their love for Sister Margaret Mary and to associate themselves with the Holy Father’s desire to publically recognise and honour her achievements.

The local parish priest, the Very Reverend Conor Cunningham remarked “Sister Margaret Mary is deeply loved and admired by the whole community for her kindness, her hard-working nature, her humility and above all for her striking example of living faith, prayerfulness and service. It is this example of everyday holiness and joy that above all that has brought her life’s witness to the attention of the Holy Father so that all may benefit.”

Addressing Sister Margaret Mary directly Father Cunningham said “I know it is mortifying for you personally to find yourself the centre of the Church’s attention this morning. It is an awesome thing to feel something of Saint Peter himself point you out to us afresh, as he taps you on the shoulder to say thanks - thanks for your lifetime’s companionship of Christ and your unstinting humble ministry to his people.”

In a short but gracious reply Sister Margaret Mary said: “It has been a joy to me to live among you here in North Clare for most of my life and to serve God and to serve you as best I can. I never expected any notice or reward for my modest contribution. The joy of serving God and serving you was reward enough for me.

I want very much to associate all my dear friends in the Sisters of Mercy with this honour. Today I am thinking especially of our beloved departed sisters and friends.

I am very grateful to you all for coming to today’s celebration of faith and education in Lisdoonvarna.

Archbishop Brown, thank you so much for coming to pray with us this morning. I ask you to kindly convey to our beloved Holy Father Pope Benedict my sincere sentiments of gratitude and the assurance of my prayers for his special ministry.

May Jesus and Mary bless you all!”


Biographical notes

Sister Margaret Mary Jordan was born on 28th August 1924, and was shortly thereafter baptised Brigid Philomena Jordan in Our Lady Help of Christians Parish Church in Swinford, Co. Mayo. Her education was received at the local primary school and St. Mary’s Mercy Secondary School, both in Swinford.

After her Leaving Certificate examinations in 1943 she entered the Mercy Convent in Ennistymon, Co. Clare and was received into the Congregation of the Sisters of Mercy on 29th September 1944. Her Profession of Temporary Vows took place on 2nd October 1946 and her name in religion became Margaret Mary. That same year she began her studies at University College Galway and graduated with a B. Comm. degree in 1949. She also took her final Solemn Vows in 1949.

She began her teaching ministry in September 1949 by being an original founder, that very month, of the local secondary school in Lisdoonvarna, a Sisters of Mercy secondary school under the patronage and title of Mary Immaculate. Until then, this part of North Clare was without secondary education.

Sister Margaret Mary has faithfully and cheerfully served the Lisdoonvarna community and its wider catchment area for almost 63 years as an exemplary teacher, also serving for many years as the school principal. Although Sister Margaret Mary officially retired in 1990 she remained very active in the school as an auxiliary chaplain, and assistant teacher and catechist.

Throughout all this period, and even to the present time at the age of 88, Sister Margaret Mary has been helping generations of young people to understand the scriptures and to proclaim them well and with reverence at Sunday Mass.