Sister Philomena O'Brien
Sister Philomena O’Brien is a fresh seventy-nine year old. An Ursuline Sister, she has been residing in Blue Point since1935. The voyage that she set out on, she now recalls as her answer, to divine guidance.
Sister Philomena was born in Fethard in 1917, and as a child felt that she had a missionary calling, but she was also interested in education and felt that it was the directive that she was supposed to take, and after a number of years in Blue Point she was able to pursue her interest. During the first decades of her service to the Church, she had few choices open to her, but the 1960’s changed this when many of the restrictions and opinions regarding women, were lifted after John Paul became Pope
Now a teacher, she is by no means a stranger to the pupils side of the classroom. Besides her religious duties she has studied hard to achieve a B.A in English and History, a Masters in history and a Doctorate in Philosophy,all in addition to a number of Certificates. After completing her studies, Philomena filled the shoes for a number of positions including eighteen years as a grade school teacher in Howard beach, six years as a principal of the St. Maurice School in Stamford, Connecticut and ten years as Provincial of her congregation, in which she was an overseer of six church facilities in New York and Connecticut.
Although her earlier years were difficult in some respects, as of yet there was little respect for the rights and wishes of women both in the Church and in the public light, things of course being a lot easier today. Sr. Philomena however recalls them fondly, as she remembers teaching Religious instruction in the area. It was like a wilderness out there, you look at it now and it has grown so much. The challenge that she and her colleagues set about to accomplish regarding the religious instruction in the area of Blue Point in the early days was obviously achieved as she recalls today, with some amusement, that in her first Communion class there was only twelve where today there stands one hundred and twelve eager smiling faces.
Little, I am quite sure did the seventeen year old Philomena O Brien dwell on the idea that she would be celebrating her 60th year of ‘First Profession’ as a Roman Catholic nun of the Ursuline Sisters
Since 1982 , she has been Retreat Director at the Ursula Centre, which offers Spiritual programs, as well as Unbroken Silence for people who simply need to talk to someone. Strangely enough, what Sr. Philomena has noticed is how much people just need to escape even for a day, from the troublesome world that we live in.
Sr.Philomena’s achievements should be a great example to us all today, when sometimes it seems far easier to take the easy option, stories like hers could show us that, the hard slog always pays off.