The latest Medical Missionaries of Mary report features stories on more of the 16 MMMs who mark fifty years of profession this year. The four women in this issue have served in a wide variety of ministries in nine countries.
As a consequence of COVID-19, various planned celebrations with family and friends have been cancelled.
Seven Sisters did manage a small get together earlier this year at Beechgrove to mark the occasion in some way, thanks to Fr Barry Matthews.
Among those celebrating in 2020 are Sister Sally Davis from Kilteevan, Co. Roscommon. After training as a nurse in Baggot Street Hospital in Dublin she worked in Cherry Orchard Hospital and in Nigeria before joining MMM. During her novitiate she was sent to Nigeria to relieve during the Biafran war. She worked there until 1973, when she returned to Ireland for training in midwifery. She was again assigned to Nigeria in 1974, where she served for about twenty years, especially in community-based health clinics in Abakaliki, Ikot Ene and Ndubia. Sally was also infirmarian in the Motherhouse.
After helping for several months in Ganta, Liberia, where she administered a programme for people with Hansen's disease, she was assigned to Lagos, Nigeria. There she worked in a busy urban clinic and was involved in primary health care. Sister Sally returned to Ireland in 2004 and was a nurse in the Motherhouse clinic until 2013. She then helped with telephone duties and had a special ministry of visiting the MMMs in the nursing facility Áras Mhuire. She moved to Áras Mhuire for nursing care in August 2020.
Sister Sheila Devane was born in Boyle, Co. Roscommon. When she was nine, her family transferred to Dundalk. She found this change challenging and a preparation for missionary life in Tanzania, Kenya and Ethiopia, with periods of study in the USA and UK. A qualified nurse before joining MMM, she trained in midwifery and later as a clinical psychologist.
Some experiences Sheila gratefully looks back to are: working in the Turkana Desert, in a famine camp in Ethiopia, taking over a midwifery training school during the HIV pandemic in East Africa, assisting with the establishment of Áras Mhuire Nursing Facility in Drogheda, setting up a community mental health service in Tanzania, and leading the evaluation of a counselling service set up by Trocaire in Rwanda after the genocide. Now she has become a frontline mental health worker in Trinity College Dublin during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sister Rita Kelly is from Dublin. She trained as a nurse before joining MMM. After profession she completed midwifery training and in 1973 she was assigned to Kenya. After five years she trained in public health and worked in Kenya for another six years. In 1987 Rita returned to Ireland and worked in the matron's office in the International Missionary Training Hospital for three years and then as acting matron.
Rita served in MMM leadership and accompanied the junior professed MMMs from 1991 to 1996, when she was assigned to the community on the USA/Mexico border. From 1999 to 2009, Rita was based in Dublin, helping returned missionaries through the Irish Missionary Union, especially those coping with traumatic issues, and doing vocation work.
Sister Patricia O'Connor is from Athlone, Co. Westmeath. She trained as a nurse in England and worked there for some time before joining MMM. After profession she completed midwifery training and was assigned to Tanzania in 1971. Over ten years she served in Makiungu Hospital and also helped for a year in Winchester, MA, USA. Patricia was then assigned to Dareda, Tanzania, as matron and then served in MMM leadership before moving to Kenya. In Aror she was in charge of a health centre for five years.
Patricia she was assigned to the Motherhouse in 1996. She was clinic Sister for eleven years and during that time also served in MMM leadership. Since training in chiropody in 2007 she has been providing this service for the Sisters in Drogheda.