Welcoming Jacqueline Armstrong to Derry and Raphoe Mothers’ Union

Jacqui’s childhood was spent in the rolling hills of Co. Cavan, surrounded by farm, forest, an Iron Age Fort and many hours of adventures and ‘make believe’. 

Having a go-ahead mother, she was signed up to Kilmore Cathedral GFS Branch at age 3. Memories from those days include running through the cathedral grounds and down through the magical woodland to the See House. The craft skills, fun and faith filled activities experienced there, at school and at home laid a sure footed foundation for adult life.

When Jacqui left Cavan Royal School, she headed to Dublin and the Church of Ireland College of Education, where she continued to enjoy music, joined Christ Church Cathedral Choir, and met her husband, James Sarsteiner. She considers herself very fortunate to have landed a teaching post in St. Matthew’s NS – a school steeped in creativity and innovation. In 1992 she moved to Fanad and found a like minded school in Drumfad NS.

Unusually, Jacqui started her Mothers’ Union journey as Branch Leader with the Clondevaddock MU Branch on its formation in 2002. She became involved in social policy at diocesan level and at All-Ireland level and was appointed All-Ireland Faith & Policy Coordinator in 2014. Until 2019 she was an elected member of The Worldwide Faith & Policy Committee. Having moved from Donegal, Jacqui now enjoys the company of and activities with fellow members in Templemore Mothers’ Union.

She has worked on many social policy issues, including the development of the Bye Buy Childhood Campaign and was the creator of our MU social policy pamphlet, The Irish SPIN (Social Policy In The News).

During the last five years she has spearheaded All-Ireland Mothers’ Union activities in highlighting gender based violence, and, in particular, domestic abuse, culminating each year with the All-Ireland Prayer Vigil during the 16 Days of Activism each November.

In 2018 the diocese took part in a worldwide consultation with its members: MULOA Mothers Union Listening, Observing and Acting. Through MULOA participants looked beyond themselves and into their communities – celebrated what Mothers’ Union is already achieving and identifying needs in our communities, thus creating starting points for discussion and ways of moving forward.

As Diocesan President, Jacqui would like to see Mothers Union in Derry & Raphoe as spirit filled, spirit fed, and spirit led. It would be her aim to encourage, equip, enthuse and empower members and branches in discovering and implementing their dreams and undertakings.

Speaking as she accepted her Badge of Office, Jacqui reminded us that “We have had a terrific three years under the guidance of Mary. God has many plans in store for us and God always plants each one of us where we are meant to be. We place our hand firmly into the hand of God, knowing he will not let us down.

As our founder, Mary Sumner often reminded her members,“Together, by the Grace of God… we can calm each other when we are afraid; strengthen one another when we are weak; and work together …………… to the glory of God.”

We do not know where the next 3 years will take us, but God already knows and where He leads, we will follow. I would like to thank each one of you for your confidence and willingness in entrusting me with this task. I trust and sincerely hope that together with God’s richest blessings we shall have a very enjoyable fruitful journey.