Loreto nun ‘humbled’ to accept humanitarian award

A Loreto nun working as a school principal in war-torn South Sudan is to be the recipient of the tenth international humanitarian award in honour of the Killarney priest, Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty.

Loreto nun ‘humbled’ to accept humanitarian award

Sr Orla Treacy, from Bray, Co Wicklow, was selected from a shortlist of five nominated by the public for walking in the footsteps of the Killarney priest who was credited with operating a lifeline via the Vatican for up to 7,000 people during Nazi Occupied Rome.

Sr Orla was born in 1973 and lived in Tralee between the ages of two and six while her father Blaise Treacy was the local authority’s county secretary.

She completed her Leaving Cert in 1991 and graduated as a teacher from the Mater Dei Institute. She joined the Loreto sisters at the age of 24 and has spent the last 11 years in Sudan where she set up a mission and school with other Loreto nuns.

Her school in Rumbek in Lakes State has more than 500 boys and girls in attendance.

Announcing the winner of the award, chairperson of the Hugh O’Flaherty Memorial Committee, Jerry O’Grady said: “Sr Orla possesses and displays the bravery and humanitarian commitment we have come to associate with the recipients of this award.

“At a young age, and with a bright future ahead of her in Ireland, she decided instead to dedicate her life to those in need in what was already then a virtual war zone.” On being told of her selection for the award, Sr Orla said: “The work of Msgr Hugh O’Flaherty has inspired so many in their fight against injustice for the protection of vulnerable populations.

“I am genuinely very humbled to receive this award, and on behalf of Loreto Sisters and all our staff at Loreto Rumbek South Sudan I graciously accept this honour.

“The girls and young people we work with in South Sudan fill us with hope for a better future for this country.”

Among previous recipients of the Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty award were the late Donal Walsh, posthumously, Sharon Cummins, and Dr John Beavis. Last year’s recipient was Fr Shay Cullen.

As well as the annual conference and award ceremony each November, the Monsignor is remembered in Killarney with a life-size statue at a new entrance to the Killarney National Park.

Trips to Rome to walk in his footsteps take place most years.

Admission to the Humanitarian Award Ceremony in the Killarney Avenue Hotel on Saturday, November 4, is open to all.

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