Sligo-native Sr Bridget Tighe was honoured with Trócaire’s inaugural Romero International Award at a ceremony in Galway on Saturday, August 18, in recognition of her humanitarian work in Gaza and the Middle East.
Launched last October, the award commemorates the inspiring work of Blessed Oscar Romero, the late Archbishop of San Salvador, who fought against poverty and repression in his native El Salvador.
The honour highlights efforts to raise awareness of human rights violations and support for people who are experiencing poverty and injustice.
Around the world Trócaire works with over 400 local organisations, which work tirelessly, and often at great personal risk, to support communities facing threats. The Trócaire Romero International Award recognises the outstanding work carried out by one of these partner organisations.
Trócaire's Éamonn Meehan with Sr Bridget Tighe at the presentation of the Romero International Award (Photo: Gerry Stronge)
This inaugural award was presented to Sr Bridget of Caritas Jerusalem and the Franciscan Missionaries of Divine Motherhood (FMDM) at the Franciscan Convent in Ballinasloe, Co Galway.
Until very recently, Sr Bridget had been living in the Gaza Strip and working as the head of the Caritas Jerusalem medical centre for Gaza. Earlier this year the Ballindoon native was asked to take on the role of General Director with Caritas Jerusalem.
Over a span of more than 40 years, Sr Bridget has served almost 25 years in the Middle East, first with Palestinian refugees in Jordan, and now between Gaza and Jerusalem where she has continually served the poor and marginalised, specialising in vital healthcare.
“It’s a great honour, receiving this award from Ireland and from Trócaire,” said Sr Bridget. “I couldn’t think of anything better because most of my adult life and professional life has been spent outside of my home country and for Ireland to recognise my work abroad is truly a great honour.”
Sr Bridget insists that while the Romero International Award is a great personal honour, her family and her religious community deserve equal praise.
“I see this Trócaire award as recognition and support of what I have done, but it is also for my own family and my religious family,” she said.
“I could not have achieved this without their support, for which I’m grateful. My family have supported me from childhood onwards and my religious community, my sisters have been behind me throughout all of the different kind of work I have done.
“For all of those reasons, I’ll accept this huge honour in my own name, but also in the name of my family, my religious and Caritas Jerusalem. I could not do what I have done in Gaza and what I’m doing now without all of their support.”
Sr Bridget Tighe caring for the sick in Gaza (Photo: John McColgan)
Trócaire Executive Director Éamonn Meehan congratulated Sr Bridget on being awarded the inaugural Romero International Award:
“Trócaire is delighted to be honouring Sr Bridget. Throughout her long and distinguished career she has dedicated herself to the service of the poor and the vulnerable. In Jordan, in Gaza and today in Jerusalem, she offers care and support to Palestinian communities who continue to suffer great injustices.
“This award honours people who continue to embody the values of Blessed Oscar Romero, who was murdered because of his support for justice and peace. Sr Bridget’s work is vital and we at Trócaire are proud to support it.”