Monday, December 10, 2012

The Nun Story!

In the last 10 years or so I've taken an increasing interest in researching family history.

Recently the photo below was kindly shared with me by cousins on my father's side. We were trying to trace who the mystery nun in the photo was. All we knew was that she had some connection to our  granny. There were few clues to work on. The photo looked like it was taken at least 100 year ago and the nun's habit seemed rather distinctive. Handwritten on the back of the photo were the very faded words "James Mullen, Paddock, Ratoath". Ratoath is a lovely little village in Co. Meath, Ireland. It's in an area where my father and his siblings grew up. Indeed their mother and father were also born in the surrounding area and at least a few of their grandparents.

A lot of research followed and I'll spare readers all the details. But I traced the habit in the photo as belonging to a Texas USA religious order started in the 1800s called "The Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word". I swapped many emails with their San Antonio Texas branch and they were quite helpful to me. With their assistance and also through me getting some birth records of our granny Margaret Mullen we eventually traced the nun as our granny's aunt. Her name was Catherine Mullen and the James Mullen mentioned on back of the photo was her brother (our great grandfather).

So Catherine Mullen was born in 1861 in Corbalton in Meath (5 miles from Ratoath). Her parents names were Thomas and Marcella Mullen (i.e. our great-great grandparents). Catherine was recruited by the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word in 1888 from Dublin and went to Texas for the rest of her life. The photo was taken in Texas probably around 1892. Catherine's Religious name was Sister Pancratius.

The convent in San Antonio was also able to email me the history of the good works of Sister Pancratius. This detail is shown here and you can also see that she died in 1937 and is buried in Mt. Olivet Cemetery in Fort Worth Texas.

It struck me strongly that none of us today as Catherine's living relations would have been aware of her long charitable life in the USA and indeed where she was finally laid to rest. So it means a lot to myself and my cousins to put the record straight.

I want to pay a particular thanks to Eva Sankey of The Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio Texas for her great help to me in this research. 


julianne joyce said...

How interesting - good sleuthing John!

John of Dublin said...

Ha ha, thanks Julie!

mpc88 said...

I was interested to read about the picture of the nun. I also had an aunt who was a nun in the same order in Texas. Her name was Sister Theodore and she was born in the early 1900s. Her mothers family were Mullens...maybe thats where the Mullens went

John of Dublin said...
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John of Dublin said...
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John of Dublin said...

Thanks for the comment mpc88. That's interesting about the Mullen surname. We could even be related!

Unknown said...

I was wondering if I could have a more detailed scan of the picture I have another picture that I have hanging on my wall of the same time. In the photo I have has the same Eastlake table and crucifix with the same habit you can email me at