Sister Mary Angela Gilsenan

By Anna Moloney R S M

Brigid Gilsenan (Sister Mary Angela) was born in Kilskyre, Meath and joined the Sisters of Mercy in Tullamore on 15th May 1842 six years after its foundation and six months after the death of Catherine McAuley on 11th November 1841. She was professed in 1844 and in that year the Kells foundation was made.

Mother Teresa Purcell was the second Superior in Tullamore and Sister Mary Angela became Assistant to this inspiring leader, who had received the habit from Mother Catherine

Father William Kelly arrived at the Convent looking for Sisters for his parish in East London. In 1859 seven Sisters, in various stages of religious life, accompanied Sister Mary Angela Gilsenan who was sent for two months, to make the foundation.

When they arrived in London, they found a house ready for them, but they had no time to review their accommodation, as there was so much work to be done. In the first week they took over the running of the Poor Schools where nine hundred girls were waiting to be taught.

In 1872 there was an urgent request for a foundation in Burnley.Three Sisters were generously given – Sister M. Ignatius Dillon, Sister M. Catherine Winship and Sister Mary Angela Gilsenan as superior. Sister M. Ignatius and Sister M. Catherine were studying for their Mistress’s Certificate. Cardinal Manning refused permission for them to go unless two postulants capable of taking their Teaching Certificates were found. Their prayers were answered and the foundation to Burnley went ahead.