ic NorthernIreland - Peacemaker Nun Says Goodbye

Peacemaker Nun Says Goodbye Sep 5 2003

AN Anglican nun who spent more than 30 years pioneering for peace in Northern Ireland has returned to her former convent, aged 86.

Sister Anna Hoare, who was honoured with an MBE for her cross-community work on the peaceline in Belfast is to spend her remaining days in the enclosed convent in Oxford.

She made her home in Belfast following an appeal by Mother Teresa in the early 70's for Anglican nuns to join her Missionaries of Charity and live in the Province as a witness to Christian unity.

Eight sisters came to Belfast from Great Britain- four Anglican and four Catholic - but, gradually, the others were withdrawn.

Only Sr Anna remained, setting up her base in Hope House on the peace line, at the troubled intersection of the two communities on Alliance Avenue in north Belfast.

In her 31 years in Belfast she became involved in numerous projects promoting peace and reconciliation- initially sending children from deprived Catholic and Protestant areas on holidays together to England or to places of Christian witness like the Focolare Movement's little town in Italy.

She became fascinated by the idea of integrated education and, in All Children Together, threw herself into fundraising for Lagan College, the first integrated college in Northern-Ireland, which opened in 1981 with 28 elevenyearolds and today has over 1,000 students.

A school chaplain, Helen Killick, says her job exists because of Sr Anna's vision for a joint Catholic and Protestant chaplaincy for the school and all the fundraising she has done to make it secure.

Sr Anna only ever had the use of one eye and, some years ago, through glaucoma, she went completely blind.

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