Bonds of Friendship and Fellowship Celebrated as Mothers’ Union Marks 130 Years in Ireland
Mothers’ Union members from around Dublin & Glendalough and beyond filled All Saints’ Church in Raheny on Sunday (May 7) in celebration of MU’s 130 years in Ireland. Archbishop Michael Jackson presided and the guest speaker was Lady Christine Eames, former World President of Mothers ‘ Union. The service was led by Diocesan Mothers’ Union Chaplain, Canon David Mungavin.
The service also marked the beginning of the Mothers’ Union Way which will take All Ireland President, Phyllis Grothier, on a journey around all 12 dioceses of the Church of Ireland to celebrate with members.
Mothers’ Union in Ireland was established in Raheny in 1887 by Annabella Hayes, wife of the then Rector, Canon FC Hayes. The service began with prayers at a bench dedicated to the member of Mrs Hayes in the churchyard. Following the service a tree symbolising 13 decades of love and service was dedicated and planted by the Revd Neal O’Raw. Afterwards in the parish hall there was a sweet treat with 13 cakes also representing 13 decades of MU, baked by the diocesan trustees.
In her address Lady Eames said that the anniversary marked a significant time in the life of Mothers’ Union, and in the wider Church. She drew on the words: “It doesn’t matter how far along the way you have come, be ready for the gifts, and the new ones, for there is no stopping place”.
She said that Mothers’ Union was not stopping but merely pausing to celebrate the life of Mothers and to celebrate 13 decades of loving and giving. It was a time to give thanks, she said, that 130 years ago Annabella Hayes brought Mothers’ Union to Ireland, it having begun 11 years earlier in Winchester. Since its foundation by Mary Sumner, Mothers’ Union had grown to become a worldwide organisation with four million members in 83 countries bringing positive change to over half a million people every year, she said.
Lady Eames said many would be thinking about the people they had met through Mothers’ Union and the friendships they had made. Others will think of the projects in which MU has been involved and which make such a difference in the lives of so many. She highlighted the local and global nature of the organisation.
“I think of Mothers’ Union as around the corner and around the world. There is such diversity. It is all too easy when you meet in your branch to think that this is the limit of Mothers’ Union. It’s very hard to think that you belong to this global movement and yet you do. Mothers’ Union is bigger than any one branch,” she stated.
The world has changed enormously since Annabella Hayes established the first branch in Ireland, Lady Eames observed. There was much talk of the secular nature of today’s world and she said members of Mothers’ Union must reflect on the challenges that brings and the opportunities for the organisation. “We do what we do to bring the word of Christ to the secular world and to meet the needs of the future,” she said.
Following the service, President of Mothers’ Union in Dublin & Glendalough, Karen Nelson, thanked the Rector, the Revd Norman McCausland, the parish of Raheny and all who helped with the preparations for the service.
Phyllis Grothier thanked Lady Eames for sharing the message of Mothers’ Union and thanked the trustees and members in Dublin & Glendalough for making it such a wonderful occasion. She said that earlier in the spring, the Archbishop of Armagh had challenged Mothers’ Union to remember those in the community suffering domestic violence and asked members to think about how they could further this issue, noting that they had already joined the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence. She looked forward to travelling around Ireland for the next two weeks meeting members of Mothers’ Union everywhere.