Sr. Cyril Mooney, ibvm visited us at Loretto Abbey for a couple of weeks in May and June. I had heard a lot about her from the sisters here, about her work in India and her gregarious personality, so I was very keen to meet her.
She travelled to the U.S to receive an honourary doctorate from St. Michael’s College in Burlington, Vermont before coming to Canada. Her work to educate children in India has been recognized through a number of awards and honours.
Even from the short time that I spent in her company, I could see that Sr. Cyril is a force to be reckoned with. Very determined and focused, she has spent much of her life trying to alleviate the struggles of the poor in India through education. She taught and was principal at Loreto Sealdah school in Calcutta, and implemented a number of innovative programs there. The school caters to children from both poor and wealthy areas of Calcutta, but because the girls all wear uniforms there is no distinction between them. In the school they are equals.
The girls are taught to bear responsibility for others and actually help to teach the “Rainbow Children” (the children from the streets who come to the school for classes and who also receive food and shelter). What I also found fascinating was the outreach she and her students do to help children that are involved in domestic labour and are unable to attend school. The students go around to homes where they suspect that children are being used as domestic servants and use a variety of methods, including asking the children to come out to play, to try to put an end to the practice. Children are empowered to help other children in need and to realize their right to education and grow to their full potential. I really think this is amazing.
But what struck me most about Sr. Cyril, even more than her many accomplishments and innovative practices, was her obvious deep love for the children she works with. It was plain to see that it is this love that has motivated her and has kept her working so hard throughout her life. It was beautiful to witness and deeply inspiring.