Sr. Stanislaus Kennedy, or Sr. Stan as she is affectionately known, is a visionary and social innovator and a member of the congregation of Religious Sisters of Charity since 1958.
The Religious Sisters of Charity, formerly known as the Irish Sisters of Charity, was founded by Mary Aikenhead in Ireland in 1815. Mary Aikenhead was a Cork woman, who seeing the social, economic, educational and spiritual deprivation all around her in early nineteenth century Ireland, agreed to found an order of religious women whose mission was to work with and on behalf of people who were poor.
At eighteen years of age Sr. Stan, then Treasa Kennedy, decided to become a nun. Following in the footsteps of Mary Aikenhead she too was drawn to work on behalf of the poor in the towns and cities of Ireland, from stories she had heard and read about whilst growing up in the townland of Lispole (more info) on the Dingle Peninsula, Co. Kerry.
As a young girl Sr Stan noticed that there were distinctions between people, those who had a lot and those who had very little. For almost fifty years now she has pioneered, campaigned, explored and developed a range of inspiring social innovations to benefit thousands of people who have experienced exclusion in its many forms.
In the 1960’s Sr Stan was missioned to Kilkenny to work alongside Bishop Peter Birch in developing Kilkenny Social Services. For nineteen years Peter Birch was both guide and mentor to Sr. Stan as the Kilkenny social services developed into an innovative, comprehensive model of community care becoming a blue-print for the rest of Ireland.
In 1974 the Irish Government appointed Sr Stan as the first chair of The National Committee on Pilot Schemes to Combat Poverty, in Ireland and in 1985 the European Commission appointed her as trans-national co-ordinator in the European rural anti poverty programme working right across Europe. From the small townland of Lispole Sr Stan’s desire to create a more equal society was moving further afield.
Moving to Dublin in the early 1980’s Sr Stan tackled one of Ireland’s most neglected social inequalities – homelessness. In 1985 Sr Stan established Focus Point which is now Focus Ireland, the biggest national, voluntary organisation helping people to find, create and maintain a home.
In 1998 Sr Stan founded The Sanctuary, a meditation/spirituality centre in the heart of Dublin city, a place where people can find a quiet space and time for themselves to explore and develop their inner world and wisdom and find stillness.
In 2001 Sr Stan established two other initiatives, the Immigrant Council of Ireland (ICI), an independent national organisation working to promote the rights of immigrants through information, advocacy and legal aid and the Young Social Innovators (YSI), a national showcase providing an opportunity for students to become involved in social issues.
Sr. Stan has also written thousands of articles that have been published in Ireland and elsewhere. She lectures on social issues and policies, is a frequent keynote speaker at many events and regularly gives talks to many diverse groups in Ireland, Europe and outside of Europe.