Wednesday 24 April 2019

Sr Hinder spent 51 years with MMM

Obituary: Sr. Agnes Hinder, MMM

In July 2018, Sister Agnes Hinder celebrated fifty years as a Medical Missionary of Mary. The only member from Switzerland, she had wide training and experience before joining.

Born in the canton of St. Gallen, Switzerland in 1927, Agnes trained and worked in domestic science for five years before qualifying as a children's nurse. She worked as a private children's nurse for four years and then completed studies in general nursing and anaesthetics.

In 1962, at the invitation of Bishop Jobidon in Malawi, Agnes and another woman, Maria Raber, prepared to go to the Diocese of Mzuzu, under the auspices of a Swiss lay missionary group. Beforehand both women were sent to Drogheda to learn English and to study the ethos of MMM. They lived with a local family, working in the International Missionary Training Hospital (now Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital) in the morning and learning English in the afternoon.

When the two women arrived in Mzuzu, the Swiss group had built a house for them - always referred to as 'the Swiss house'. Agnes was well qualified for the development of Saint John's Hospital, the first MMM foundation in Malawi. She spent four years there as a lay missionary and then decided to join MMM. She completed her postulancy in Malawi in 1966 before proceeding to Drogheda for her novitiate training.

After first profession Agnes qualified as a midwife and was assigned back to Mzuzu. She served there for four more years, doing general and paediatric nursing as well as anaesthetics. At that time the demands continued to grow in providing extended health services from Saint John's Hospital.

In 1974, she was assigned to a new rural mission in the diocese, in Nkhata Bay. There she developed a mother and child welfare clinic and an outreach programme.

In 1976 Sister Agnes returned to Switzerland for a refresher course in anaesthetics, after which she was back in Mzuzu. For the next twenty-three years she was involved in general and children's nursing. She also worked in the nutrition unit and in anaesthetics in the operating theatre.

Agnes was a competent, experienced and compassionate nurse who also became a mentor for the many lay volunteers who spent time in Saint John's.

MMM later handed over Saint John's Hospital and moved out of Mzuzu Diocese. In 2001, after a sabbatical, Agnes was assigned to Chipini, a new mission in the south of the country. Here she encountered a different people with their own language and traditions. For six more years she cared for the children she loved.

At the age of seventy-nine Agnes returned to Drogheda. There she served in the infirmary and clinic in the Motherhouse. She has accompanied many of the Sisters who were her friends in Malawi on their journey home to God. Willing to assist in any place she was needed, she also helped in the stamp department.

In May 2018 she went to Áras Mhuire for nursing care. She died there peacefully on 28 March 2019.

Drogheda Independent