On 31 August, 1962 two Marist Sisters – Sisters Martin Healy and Rowland Riddehough – set off from Paddington Station, London to begin the first pioneering venture to a new mission in Yorkshire. It was an answer to an earlier invitation from the Parish Priest of Goldthorpe, Father O’Reilly, for a community of Marist Sisters in his Parish.
For two years the Sisters were grateful for living accommodation with Sisters of the Nativity at Wath-on-Dearne and later at Loretto Cottages in Hoyland. Sisters Rowland and Martin travelled to Sacred Heart School, Goldthorpe daily. In Yorkshire at this time it was impossible for schools to secure permanent Catholic lay staff to teach in small colliery towns and villages.
Saint Helen’s Catholic Primary School, Hoyland was an attractive proposition with two Loretto Cottages nearby in West Street, which with negotiation could become temporary living accommodation for the Sisters.
The mission continued to develop but the fact remained that the original invitation was from Goldthorpe and here the Sisters must find a permanent home as soon as reasonably possible.
Bishop Ralph, assisted by local priests, celebrated a Mass of thanksgiving in the Church of the Sacred Heart and Saint Helen, Hoyland, which was the location of the first Marist community.
In his homily the Bishop concentrated on the first Reading Philippians 1:1-11. Following a short introduction on Paul’s wish from prison to visit again the people of Philippi reminding them of his prayer for them, the bishop related Paul’s prayer to the present situation where the Marist Sisters were praying fervently for the people they were leaving behind, using Paul’s words, ‘My prayer for you is that your love for each other may increase more and more and never stop improving your knowledge and deepening your perception.’ Paul prays that this wise love will result in right judgement. He longed for the time when the people would differentiate between good and evil. God will be transforming their lives into a holy way of living. This is Paul’s prayer for his readers, ‘When you will reach the perfect goodness which Jesus Christ produces in us’.
Bishop Ralph concluded his homily by saying, “Sisters Carmel and Darina as you prepare to take your leave of the diocese, we have a prayer for you; another beautiful Pauline prayer,
‘Out of his infinite glory, may he give you the power through his
Spirit for your hidden self to grow strong, so that Christ may
live in your hearts through faith, and then, planted in love and
built on love, you will with all the saints have strength to grasp
the breadth and the length, the height and the depth, until knowing
the love of Christ which is beyond all knowledge, you are filled
with the utter fullness of God.’
At the end of Mass the Parish Priest, Father Martin conveyed thanks on behalf of the Parish community. “We, as individuals, as a Parish Community and as a Diocese, will continue to give thanks to God for you as you journey onwards. Thank you for all you have given to the people and clergy you have encountered over the years.”
Then before leaving the church Sisters Carmel and Darina were each presented with a bouquet of flowers. Everyone was invited for refreshments in the parish hall.
In their reminiscences everybody spoke with great appreciation and affection of the Sisters who taught them and their family members over many generations.