June 10, 2014
St Joseph’s Convent Chapel - remembering Sr Irene McCormack on the 23rd Anniversary of her death
Sr Irene McCormack, a W.A. Sister of St Joseph, arrived in Peru in 1987 and was appointed to the mountain village of Huasahuasi in 1989. She took up the challenge of ministering to the impoverished, "I have come to understand that effective action is a way of loving."
The short years in Peru were a time of growth and satisfaction for Irene as she served the needy and came to understand their faith and culture, both in Lima and Huasahuasi. In these people she so joyfully served, Irene found the Christ to whom her life was dedicated.
For political reasons Communist rebels, the Shining Path, did not welcome missionaries and, despite recognising the danger, Irene and her fellow sisters continued to work with and for the village people, "I really believe and have experienced that the more committed you are the freer you are."
On May 21st 1991, 53 year-old Irene's fears were realised when she and a five others were dragged to the village square, told to lie face down and executed by a shot to the back of the head. Irene's 'crime' in the eyes of her murderers was caring for, working with and handing out Caritas food parcels to the impoverished villagers.
Fr Brian Fletcher, a visitor who participated in the Taize Prayer evening which honoured Irene has shared his reflections on the evening:
"What attracted me to the Prayer Session, held on the evening of Sunday, May 15, was the Taize-style Mantra and chanting that very much appealed to me. That the prayer time reflected the life and death of Sister Irene in Peru was an added bonus.
The music and singing were most moving as we reflected on a life of sacrifice, commitment to the poor, of mission to a foreign country so different from her own upbringing and background here in Australia
Indeed Irene’s was a life of great love for God and for the people she chose to serve. ‘Greater love than this no one has ...’
The atmosphere created in the chapel was amazing. I’ve never seen so many candles alight on and around the altar – and more were added as each of the dozens of people present lit a small candle as their way of honouring the memory of a wonderful woman of faith and courage - as she said herself’ ’to normalise life a little and give them some joy.’
Is this not what the Risen Lord is asking of each of us?"
If you would like to read more of Irene's story, the book, 'Irene ... a tribute to Irene McCormack rsj' is available for purchase for $10 (including postage)
Email us for more information
Fr Brian Fletcher, Laura McCarthy & Mary Ryan rsj.