In 1815, following training at the Bar Convent in York, Mary Aikenhead founded the Religious Sisters of Charity. Increasing unemployment, outbreaks of cholera and the great famine were part of the setting in which Mary Aikenhead founded her new Congregation. Love was the compelling force behind all of her life’s work. Her warm-hearted caring love sprang from her deep tender love for God which was rooted in faith – a faith which enabled her to find God in all things and to love Him in all people. The work of Mary Aikenhead included the establishment of schools, hospitals and orphanages for people in need, and very importantly the visiting of the poor, especially the sick in their homes, and those in prison.
Mary Aikenhead’s warm-hearted caring love sprang from her deep tender love for God which was rooted in faith.
For the last twenty seven years of her life, Mary was confined to her bed or a wheelchair. Her vision and energy were not weakened by this confinement, but distilled into a deeper definition of service. Mary Aikenhead died on the 22nd July 1858. On hearing the news of her death a poor farmer paid her this tribute: “That matchless woman! In her, Ireland’s poor have lost their best friend.” After her death her vision ‘to give to the poor what the rich can buy with money’, continued to grow and spread in Ireland, England, Scotland, Zambia, Malawi, Nigeria, Venezuela, California and Australia.