Anne McLoone RSM Community Hero September 2015
Anne McLoone Finn Valley Centre Community Hero for September was born in, and spent her youth in Glenties, the daughter of Mary Anne and Joe Barney McLoone and the youngest in a family of six. She entered the convent in 1961 alongside Sisters Gabrielle, Rose and Susan Evangelist who have journeyed with her and are lifelong friends.
The four sisters celebrated their Golden Jubliee last year and Srs. Gabrielle and Anne held a joint celebration in St. Columba’s. In typical Anne McLoone spirit they both raised €3,480 for the Cancer Bus to Galway thanks to donations from friends instead of gifts.
Although Anne’s dream was to train as a nurse others had other plans and she eventually trained in Sion Hill in Dublin as a Home Economics teacher for four years before returning to teach in Ballyshannon where she worked with boarders for nine years. After Ballyshannon Anne was appointed to St. Columba’s Stranorlar as Principal/Manager in 1977 a position which was to be re-evaluated after one year but she continues her involvement to the present day on the school Board of Management. On her first parent teacher day a lady whose husband she had worked with prior to entering came in to tell her the comments from outside, some of which were “she’s too young”, “she’ll be no good”. These statements she has firmly left to history. Anne’s time in St. Columba’s was a good experience but was not without its challenges but she states that throughout that time she met many wonderful people in parents, staff and pupils. The school size also went from 340 students to, 1,030 by 1990 which was a major challenge as prior to getting a new school the college had 25 prefabs.
Anne eventually left St. Columba’s for further study in England where she spent two years studying Group Dynamics and further to that in Dublin studying Family Therapy in the evenings while completing work experience with homeless and battered women and children.
In 1994 she was invited to explore Ceoil na Coille with a view to establishing a different ministry there and hence the
Family Enrichment Centre came into being. Today the centre caters for the population by providing a range of services, holistic therapies, training opportunities, self-development and support groups and has established itself as a safe and tranquil place for all in the community regardless of religious persuasion. Unfortunately Anne was diagnosed with cancer in 1996 but with the help of many the centre remained open and available to all. Ensuring this service continues is a constant battle and in the last fifteen years the limited budget for the centre has declined. Thankfully to all in the community the centre continues to provide services, part of which Anne attributes to the fact that she does not take a salary and the wonderful work of the members of the Community Employment Scheme who keep the place looking so beautiful.
In the middle of all her work Anne finds time to support her favourite teams, Glenties and Mac Cumhaills and you’ll be sure to see a Donegal flag on her car when the Donegal team are in action.
Despite the difficulties with funding etc. the project continues to support local as well as international causes namely;
Providing busses to Belfast for mammograms with the help of Rita McNulty which has saved many local women who were diagnosed in time, as a result.
Sales of work to support many projects, most recently the Cancer Bus to Galway
Establishing a Garden of Peace at St. Joseph’s
Provision of space for St. Columba’s students for a variety of experiences.
Production of a special Prayer Card which is available free to all
Supporting the Sisters mission in Nigeria and establishing a hospice in Abuja, Nigeria
Anne spent three months in Nigeria which she describes as an “eye opener”. In the village of Minna 15,000 people
arrived there with nothing, as the Boko Haram, an Islamic extremist group based in northeastern Nigeria drove them from their homes. To these people a simple pencil is a treat and the set of Donegal jerseys and Mac Cumhaills jerseys that Anne brought along were so treasured along with their first ever leather footballs. This project is ongoing with many simple ways to support it through the centre. Anne was also instrumental in the developing of a CD project featuring Monica Ramsey, Terri Gildea, Matt McGranaghan and was recorded and produced by local man Terry McGinty of Valley Studios, all past pupils.
As usual Anne is slow to take the credit for all the projects she has engineered and is very grateful to those colleagues who have worked with her down through the years namely Olivia Doherty and Karen Henderson her secretary and all who have run programmes for without their help it would be impossible to continue. She is also quick to acknowledge the host of individuals from around the locality who have helped in many ways and in particular to Alan Reid & Co who do all the printing for the centre and who she states will never get rich on the centre’s contribution as they do so much free of charge.
This year sees the 21st anniversary of the centre and in recent times a Board of Management has been established, so the show goes on, because, as Anne states “she’s no chicken”.
All we can say is, to quote Anne’s own words, you may be “no chicken” but there are people that would love to have the energy and enthusiasm for life that you have, as well be able to say that they have accomplished as much. Well done and continued success in all future endeavours.
Go to other Community Heroes