‘Wisdom leads us down winding ways’
The Daughters of Wisdom (DW’s) were founded in 1703 in the Vendée region of France.
We were called to live within Community to proclaim Wisdom’s love for humanity in a world that hungers for Mercy, Justice and Compassion. We honour a commitment to respect all of life wherever we are. All of this is reflective of Relationship which is a way to encounter one another.
The DW’s came to Sligo almost 60 years ago at the invitation of the Minister for Health. At the time the Provincial Leader, Mother Joseph purchased the land in order to set up a unique Centre for people with Intellectual Disability and in order to provide a unique and innovative service for Service Users.
There is a great buzz word operating in Ireland at the moment, VFM (Value for Money) Well, the DW’s knew this word in essence for all the years that our 25 Sisters lived and worked in Cregg House freely and willingly. All the Sisters provided the key posts in the service and were innovative in setting up the School of Nursing.
We also hear now about the new initiative of getting Service Users out of congregated settings. We pioneered that vision almost 15 years ago and now provide community services for over eighty of our Service Users.
Even though we only have three sisters remaining in the service, these are the people who day and night are called to be the compassionate face of our Wisdom God as the Service Users come to the final stage of life. What monetary value is in that? None! Because the commitment of the DW’s to the Service will go on until we ‘walk out the door and turn off the light’.
Seeking and finding God in the midst of the turbulence in which we find ourselves at the moment is not easy. We believe, however, that we find God in the harsh and brutal reality of what faces us in our Service in Cregg House. It seems everyone has a voice apart from the DW’s who have now lived these past having our name ‘Rubbished’ as they bump into Giant Corporations who feel it’s their God-given right to annihilate people.
I think it is now legitimate and is in fact my duty to speak out against the unfair treatment of the name of the Daughters of Wisdom and particularly now as we find ourselves with no voice.
We have over the years worked with staff and families, standing with them and they with us as we demanded our God-Given-Right to have a Service of Excellence in Cregg House, Sligo.
The DW’s have been advocates over the years for the Services that are now provided in the Disability Sector of the Health Service. The cut in services Budget over a five year period reflects out Nations’ values now. We continue to advocate ensuring that the Health Services Budget preserves the social safety net so essential to those in need. This is why the DW’s find themselves in the ‘firing line’ at the moment.
The world is outgrowing the dualistic constraints of superior/inferior, win/lose, good/bad, domination and submission. Breaking through in their place are equality, communion, collaboration, expansiveness, abundance, wholeness, mutuality and intuitive knowing. Is this not a more fair way of operating? Respecting groups and individuals and their values are what is called for now. We DW’s have been trying to be a prophetic voice in Sligo for nearly 60 years offering an alternative way to a dominant culture.
A real paradigm shift is called for now in the Services in Sligo. I hope that shift would include openness and critical thinking while also inspiring hope. This paradigm shift entails resisting rather than colluding with abusive power. It means for us, accepting suffering rather than passing it on. It refuses to shame, blame threaten or demonise. In fact non-violence requires that we befriend our own darkness and brokeness rather than projecting it onto others. Non-violence is creative. It refuses to accept ultimatums and dead-end definitions without imaginative attempt to reframe them. When needed I trust we will name and resist harmful behaviour without retaliation?
The DW’s are looking forward to a future full of hope in the face of all evidence to the contrary. In this difficult transitional time for all of us involved in Cregg: service users, staff and families, the future is in need of our imagination and our hopefulness.
In the words of the French Poet, Rostand:‘It is at night that it is important to believe in the light; one must face the dawn to be borne by believing in it’.Jean Quinn
Provincial Leader-on behalf of the DW’s in Sligo.