BY MARTIN CLAFFEY
WEST Cork Presentation Sister Josephine McCarthy has been chosen as Cork Person of the Month for November, honouring her more than 30 years of work in community development.
Known as ‘Sister Jo’, her missionary work has led her to the Cork and Ross Mission in Peru in 1978, and later to Presentation Missions in Ecuador and Peru, where she worked for 20 years, before returning to Ireland in the early 2000s.
‘We did serve in some very dangerous places whilst doing our missionary work – when in Ecuador we lived in an area which was completely lawless and every dispute was settled with an axe,’ remembers Jo.
For many years she supported a development education programme with Presentation secondary schools, facilitating an immersion experience for teachers and students in Africa, Pakistan, and India.
In 2006, the Presentation Sisters established the Cork Migrant Centre at Nano Nagle Place in Cork city. The centre provides information on access to services and immigration issues to migrants. Sr Jo has been a key shaper and developer of programmes at the centre.
Nano Nagle Place, under the direction of chief executive John Smith, houses an award-winning museum, regenerated heritage buildings, walled gardens, design shop, Cork-focused book shop and the very popular Good Day Deli. It is an outreach centre promoting development education, social inclusion, and integration.
The Lantern Project, A men’s group, and Cork Migrant Centre host a range of activities and outreach programmes, supporting more than 385 participants weekly.
The Cork Migrant Centre also creates ‘safe spaces’ where migrants can enhance their emotional, physical, cognitive, social, and cultural skills and capacities.
Sr Jo is a native of Ballinacarriga in Dunmanway, and from a young age was inspired by the legacy of Nano Nagle, the founder of the Presentation Sisters. Jo followed in Nano’s footsteps by discovering a calling to work on the Missions.
She has said that Nano Nagle has been a constant in her life. In 2018, Sister Jo stepped down as director of the Cork Migrant Centre but she remains an active volunteer with Dr Naomi Masheti and her dynamic team.
Sr Josephine’s name will now go forward, alongside the other monthly winners, for possible selection as Cork Person of the Year at the annual gala awards lunch in January.