Foundress of the Dominican Congregation of St. Catherine of Siena (third order); b. in London, January 23, 1803; d. May 10, 1868
Hallahan, MARGARET, foundress of the Dominican Congregation of St. Catherine of Siena (third order); b. in London, January 23, 1803; d. May 10, 1868. The parents of this remarkable, holy woman were poor and lowly Irish Catholics, who died when Margaret, their only child, was nine years old. She was sent to an orphanage at Somers Town for two years, and then at the age of eleven went out to service, in which state of life she remained for nearly thirty years. In 1826 she accompanied the family in which she was living to Bruges; there she tried her vocation as a lay sister in the convent of the English Augustinian nuns, but only remained there a week, feeling sure God had other work for her. She became a Dominican tertiary in 1842, and then came to England, proceeding to Coventry, where she worked under Dr. Ullathorne, afterwards Bishop of Birmingham, among the factory girls. Presently she was joined by others, and with the consent of the Dominican fathers formed a community of Dominican tertiaries, who were to devote themselves to active works of charity. The rule of the Third Order of St. Dominic, being intended for persons living in the world, was not suited to community life; she therefore drew up, from the rule of the first and second orders, constitutions which she adapted to her own needs. The first professions were made on the feast of the Immaculate Conception, 1845. From Coventry the community moved to Bristol, where several schools were placed under their charge, from there they went to Longton, the last of the pottery towns in Staffordshire, where a large field of labor was opened to them.
In 1851 her congregation received papal approbation, and in 1852 the foundation stone of St. Dominic’s convent was laid at Stone, also in Stafford-shire, but not in the Black Country: this became the mother-house and novitiate, and to it the Longton community afterwards moved. This Stone convent at one time enjoyed the reputation of numbering some of the cleverest women in England among its subjects, of whom the late mother provincial, Theodosia Drane, was one. At Stone a church and a hospital for incurables were built; this latter was one of Mother Margaret’s dearest schemes, and was begun on a small scale at Bristol. In 1857 she opened another convent at Stoke-on-Trent, a few miles from Stone, and the same year founded an orphanage at the latter place. In 1858 she went to Rome, to obtain the final confirmation of her constitutions, which was granted, and the congregation was placed under the jurisdiction of the master general of the Dominicans, who appoints a delegate, generally the bishop of the diocese, to act for him. New foundations were made at Bow, and at Marychurch, Torquay, before her death. She was a woman of great gifts, both natural and supernatural; she had marvellous faith and wonderful determination. She refused to accept government aid for any of her schools, or to place them under government inspection, but since her death her congregation has followed the custom of the country in these respects.
FRANCESCA M. STEELE