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Anniversaries – a Time for Remembrance and Recommitment

May 20, 2017

May 21st is the 26th anniversary of the death of Sister Irene McCormack in Huasahuasi Peru.

When asked to write this article the images that flashed before me of the 25th Anniversary celebration last year were those of the children in Huasahuasi. In recalling these children I am acutely aware as I write this today, ANZAC Day, of the thousands of children and adults across our planet who are being killed in senseless acts of terrorism, war and conflict. These along with the millions in the mass starvation in Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen and all those children sold into slavery and working as child soldiers. Where is their hope for the future? How can these children be the hope for the future?

I draw hope and inspiration today from the memory of Tracey, the young girl who was dressed as Irene McCormack and led the procession through the streets of Huasahuasi last year.  I draw inspiration from all the children who gathered and participated that day and especially those in the Irene McCormack School and the children from Fe y Alegría School in Tarma who live with such Josephite hearts. They, in the midst of rich and yet simple mountain cultures, were alive and hopeful, strengthened by the story and memory of Irene and the way she lived the Gospel. May their lives continue to be peace and hope filled and not be marred by terror and civil unrest. 

When the Sisters, Covenant Josephites and Josephite Associates gathered to pray together the morning after the celebrations we sang Peter Kearney’s song about Irene (download iTunes): Bright Pearl, Shining Path. Peter wrote this song as if from one of the young people in the village. One verse describes Irene as ‘a Sister who was small like me, hardly taller than a child,’ with the final chorus really describing the legacy that instills hope for these children, these people, for the future:


And though we carry on our toil
Your blood has seeped into our soil
You have become a precious part of us
We're not abandoned though you've gone.
You are the seed that soon will grow
You are star that will return
You are a messenger of life and peace
You show forgiveness in this time.
Yours is the gift of precious life
Teach us to live it to the full
Help us to face it without fear each day
And keep alive your song always

I have a Sister who has gone before.

© Peter Kearney


As we mark Irene’s anniversary this year let us sit with the image of these children and pray for all children of the world that can be the hope of the future, living without fear.

Annette Arnold rsj

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