19TH NOVEMBER 2006
ARCHBISHOP MARTIN CALLS FOR SINGLE-MINDEDNESS
IN ENSURING NEW CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL
WILL BE BEST FOR THE CHILDREN OF IRELAND
Archbishop Martin hopes that the plan for a new children’s hospital will be moved
forward with single-mindedness putting aside questions of personal and institutional
interest, to attain what is best for the children of Ireland.
Speaking at a Mass in The Pro-Cathedral in Dublin (Sunday 19th, 3pm.) to mark the
50th anniversary of Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin
noted that the ethos of Crumlin Hospital had always been one of “extraordinary
pride of management and staff in providing an excellent service of care for patients
and their families without ever counting the cost”.
He added “If that commitment and generosity is in any way soured or frustrated by
not fully and coherently availing of the current opportunity then we will have
lost something quite precious for society”.
Full text follows:
FIFTIETH ANNIVERSARY OF OUR LADY’ CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL CRUMLIN
Homily Notes of Most Rev. Diarmuid Martin
Archbishop of Dublin and Primate of Ireland
Pro-Cathedral, 18th November 2005
Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital is the fruit of a dream. It is the fruit of a
dream from way back in the nineteen thirty’s, a time of harsh poverty in this
city and around Ireland.
The dream was that Dublin could have a new, world class children’s hospital of
which we could all be proud. The dream was of my predecessor Archbishop Edward
Byrne, a man too seldom remembered, who had a special concern for the poor of
Dublin. He had ministered for many years as a Curate here in the Pro-Cathedral,
from where he knew the situation of the poor and where he was extraordinarily
respected by the poor.
Typical of the man was one of the first letters that he wrote to the newly established
Irish government. It was not about power and influence or a condemnation of public
immorality, but a personal appeal to provide concrete support for the many unmarried
mothers and their children in this area whom he saw to be among the most vulnerable
Archbishop Byrne was for much of his time as Archbishop himself a sick man as harsh
Parkinson’s disease, for which there was little that medicine could do at that time,
gradually forced him to withdraw from public appearances. But there were a number
of issues that he followed with care, one of them being the children’s hospital.
He managed to acquire a site in Crumlin which he handed over to a board whom he hoped
would turn his dream first into a project and then into a reality.
It took time and the commitment of his successor Archbishop McQuaid – who with Dr
Stafford Johnson had already been advising Archbishop Byrne – to bring the project
to reality just fifty years ago this year.
Our Lady’s Children Hospital Crumlin in these fifty years achieved the dream of
Archbishop Byrne and much more. The hospital became a centre of excellence in
medicine, in nursing, in research. It became a place of hope for many; where hope
of a cure could not be realised it became a place of consolation and support.
Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital built up an extraordinary sense of team work and it
soon became part of the community in Dublin. Many of its innovative infrastructures
would not have been built without voluntary contributions – in many cases indeed
exclusively with voluntary donations, without State aid. People gave willingly.
The community cared about the hospital. Celebrities and sports stars would willingly
give their time to bring a moment of joy to the children. The Irish Naval Service
established a wonderful partnership with the hospital.
A special tribute is due to the Daughters of Charity who managed the hospital for
many years and their dedication certainly has left an indelible print on the style
of the hospital. That has been maintained and is carried on by an exceptionally
dedicated and professional nursing staff. When I think of the ethos of Crumlin
Hospital I think of the extraordinary pride of management and staff in providing
an excellent service of care for patients and their families without ever counting
Crumlin has had the good fortune to have around it representative groups of parents
who have contributed – and done so forcefully – through their own experience and
commitment to the desire to ensure that the original dream which gave rise to Crumlin
hospital would develop with the times. That dream remains the same: that we can have
a world class, tertiary level children’s facility – linked into a comprehensive national
programme for children’s health – of which we can all be proud.
We are at the beginning of a new stage in the history of that dream. Archbishop Byrne
donated the current site. His aim was not control, but a hope that the best could be
achieved. We live in a much more affluent Ireland. The funds to radically launch a
project for the next fifty year are there and the concepts are clear. I know that,
like my predecessor, Crumlin Hospital and all its components only wants the very best
to emerge and will willingly throw its energies, accomplishments and extraordinary
expertise into such project of excellence.
My hope is that those who have the project in hand will move forward with the same
single-mindedness as Archbishop Byrne did, putting aside questions of personal and
institutional interest, to attain what is best for the children of Ireland.
I have no idea what the situation will be in fifty years time and what my successor
might say at the centenary. What I do know is that the next fifty years will bear
all the marks of the experience of the generosity and personal commitment which made
Crumlin Children’s Hospital what it is. If that commitment and generosity is in any
way soured or frustrated by not fully and coherently availing of the current opportunity
then we will have lost something quite precious for society.
Crumlin Hospital is the fruit of Christian commitment. Over fifty years, generations
of lay men and women have worked together to realise in our time the mission that Jesus
set for himself and his followers Jesus at the outset of his public life. Christianity
is not just a collection of commandment and rules, but above all bearing witness to a
God who is love and who anoints us, as his followers, to construct generation after
generation a civilization of love, where human needs are addressed and the vulnerable
are restored to wholeness.
We thank God for what Crumlin hospital has been able to achieve. We can all feel
justifiability proud of our association with a project which in a spectacular way
has looked after the interests of children and brought them healing and wholeness
through an extraordinary mix of dedication, care, professional expertise and
Archbishop McQuaid wished the hospital to be called after the Mother of God, invoking
her maternal protection on all involved. Mary is the model of discipleship for all
Christians. Like her, who pondered the word of her divine Son, we are mandated to
ponder on a draw out of God’s word the best ways of making God’s care concrete in
the Ireland of today.
19th November 2006