16 February 2016

 Sr. Geraldine Sweeney made Final Vows on Saturday 6th February in
Holy Innocents Church, Orpington at a wonderful Mass celebrated by Bishop Pat Lynch with co-celebrants Fr. Victor Vella PP, Fr. Alan McLean of Dockhead, and Geraldine’s Spiritual Director Fr. Oliver Barry OMI. The Orpington Community extended a warm welcome to the many visiting Sisters, family and friends. Parishioners swelled the congregation and offered refreshments after Mass. The parish choir provided some marvellous singing.

Sr. Geraldine’s sister and all four brothers came to support her, together with her father Patrick, auntie Birdie and other family members. Fr. Victor introduced each one of them before Mass. It added a lovely personal touch, especially as this day was the 21st Anniversary of her mother Sheila’s death.

 The retired headmistress of the school in Hull where Sr. Geraldine taught for many years did the second reading. We were delighted to welcome members from The Union of Sisters of Mercy UK, the Federation  of Sisters of Mercy UK, as well as Handmaids of the Sacred Heart, and  Sisters who had been Sr. Geraldine’s Novitiate companions from other Congregations.


The Sweeney Family

That this was a Mercy occasion was especially obvious at the Offertory when a selection of the tinned goods which guests had brought with them were taken up to the Altar by Sr. Geraldine’s niece Lola and her little nephew Alfie for the local Food Bank.

In place of personal gifts Geraldine requested donations to four charities of her choice. To date she has raised £3,400.


The orchestra and choir of Holy Innocents’ Catholic Primary School, where Sr. Geraldine used to teach, looked immaculate in their red school uniforms. More music at the Mass was provided by the O’Sullivan family who have known Sr. Geraldine since her Irish dancing days in Hull- they came over from Ireland just for the day. They also provided music for an impromptu ceilidh at the meal, much to the delight of some of our Sisters who gave spontaneous demonstrations of Irish dancing!

The Musicians

Amongst the guests at the meal afterwards were Ed and Eddie, for whom Sr. Geraldine is a full-time support worker. In a moving address at the end of Mass Sr. Colette thanked everyone who had been involved in making it such a wonderful occasion, especially to Sr. Geraldine’s dad for the gift of his daughter. She thanked Sr. Geraldine, too, for putting her hand to ‘the Mercy plough’ in this great Jubilee Year of Mercy:

“It is not easy or common in these days for a young woman to vow her life to God and so it is with great joy and thankfulness that we welcome you, Geraldine, today as a finally professed Sister of Mercy… your heart is a mercy heart and you have chosen to be a follower of Catherine McAuley. And Catherine assured us that ‘God never calls any person to any state or for any end without giving them the means and necessary helps to carry them through.’”

Sr. Colette made particular reference to the outer motto on Sr. Geraldine’s ring, ‘Hesed’, which is a Hebrew word with a meaning somewhat deeper than the English word ‘mercy’. She explained that it comes from the word for ‘womb’ and quoted from the American theologian Wendy Farley who described ‘Hesed’ as ‘a mode of relationship… a power that is wounded by the sufferings of others… propelled to action on their behalf… now!’

                                                       Sr Colette with Sr Geraldine

Anyone acquainted with Sr. Geraldine will know the central importance of Holy Mass to her life. It came as little surprise to learn that she chose as the inner motto of her ring, ‘Do this in memory of me’. Geraldine had evidently reflected long on this. One of the Communion hymns - her own composition for the occasion - had this motto as its refrain:

When you eat this bread,
When you drink this cup,
Remember what I said,
“Do this in memory of me”

Keep on composing, Geraldine, and let the suffering of the needy continue to propel you to action on their behalf, just as it did for Catherine McAuley!
May we wish you every happiness and blessing as a Sister of Mercy. Be assured of our prayers.


Sr. Penny Roker


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 Sr Geraldine first profession added in error


  • After the Ceremony

  • Sr Geraldine with Fr. John O'Gara SM and Fr. John Fricker CRL

  • Geraldine signing Vows

  • Geraldine with Vows

  • Profession Candle