Sister Sheila Hayes RSCJ RIP - Craiglockhart College

Issued: Fri, 22 Mar 2019 15:05:00 GMT

Sister Sheila Hayes RSCJ was born in London on 19 February 1926, and died in Cedar House, Dublin on 17 February 2019, a few days short of her 93rd birthday.

Sr Sheila was an educator in Ireland and Scotland.  She was orphaned at the age of 3, and was brought up by grandparents and her godmother in Dublin. She was awarded a degree in History and Modern Languages at UCD, and entered the Society of the Sacred Heart in 1947.

Sr Sheila considered the most fulfilling time of her mission in education was as Head of Mater Admirabilis Day School at Mount Anville”, Dublin between 1959 and 1965. In 1965 she was asked to go to Craiglockhart College to support the work of the Society of the Sacred Heart there.  After a brief period in Leeson Street convent in Dublin in 1966-67, she returned to Craiglockhart, first as lecturer in History and then as Vice-Principal.  There In 1974 she was appointed Principal, following in the footsteps of the legendary Mother Blount.

During her time as the Principal of Craiglockhart College of Education, Sister Sheila was a well respected and influential Principal in the Scottish colleges of education. She was much loved and respected by students and staff, bringing her humanity to bear in times of difficulty.  She was influential with other Principals largely through her quiet and firm manner always driven by a set of values that derived from her vocation and Christian mission as an educator.

In the years of change in the system of teacher education in Scotland in the 1990’s she played a pivotal role in maintaining the Catholic presence in Scottish teacher education. That would have been her lasting legacy for Scottish education.

Sister Sheila Hayes had the vision and courage to be the architect of the new college, and was the person who facilitated its birth and early development.  That seems a curious claim when she herself was not part of the emerging St Andrew’s College. She was certainly the person who allowed the college to flourish in ways that could have been very difficult if she was not instrumental in shaping the new college. Sister Sheila was a very gracious and prudent lady and recognised that if there was not a strong Catholic College the likelihood was that Catholic teacher education would disappear in Scotland. In practice Sister Sheila Hayes while being a martyr professionally was also the heroine educationally.

In 1983 she left Scotland to return in 1984 to her beloved Roscrea. After some short-term stays in various communities where she undertook much pastoral work, age and ailing health meant that she had to join the community at Cedar House, Dublin where she passed away on 17 February 2019.

Sister Sheila will be remembered by many as a much-loved Sister of the Society of the Sacred Heart. May she rest in peace.                    

B J McGettrick, Former Principal of St Andrew’s College


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