All Saints – and one I know

All Saints – and one I know

by Sr. Sheila Campbell MMM              Ireland            30.11.2023

Tomorrow is Halloween. For most young people today, it is all about witches and pumpkins and I would guess few know the origins of the celebration at all! It is the evening before All Hallows Day, and thus it gets its name. But today I want to talk about All Hallows, or as we say nowadays, All Saints Day. I love this day because we get to celebrate the many good people, we knew who have now gone to their eternal reward. They will never be canonised, but we have all met them and been inspired by them.

One of my Saints is Sr. Margaret Doyle. She was one of the first MMMs that I met when I joined in 1967.  At that time, Sr. Margaret worked in the kitchen of the Nursing Home in Clonmel where many MMM began their formation Programme.  Sr. Margaret was born in Clonegall, Co. Carlow in 1921 and died in 2012.  She only had primary education and before joining Mother Mary’s new Congregation in 1950 she worked as a priest’s housekeeper.  Clonmel was her first assignment as a professed Sister, and she worked with many young people as we came and went during our short six-month period of initial formation.  She must have had to deal with many young women, homesick and struggling to discern their path in life.  My memory of her at that time was a woman of infinite patience.  I was not very adept at kitchen work, but she never lost her temper, just quietly gave you a hand and showed you how to do things.

During my time there, Sr. Margaret was assigned to a different community in Ireland, still to do catering work, but she found the change difficult.  I remember coming across her quietly crying as she was churning milk.  She explained to me that changing was difficult after fifteen years in one place, but this was missionary life and change was to be expected.  Margaret went on to work in maternity hospitals in Drogheda and Waterford, in our students’ house in Dublin, Rosemount.  In Rosemount she was the community leader from 1983 – 1987.  At that time, it was a large community, including the postulants, novices, students, and other Sisters working in Dublin.  She proved to be a wise and caring leader with a listening heart.  She had a special concern for the poor, knew the neighbours, and many people in need received a regular hot dinner.

For so many of us Margaret exemplified the hidden life, pondering the Word of God in her heart.  She provided an understanding and listening ear to everyone, and those who were in community with her always headed for the kitchen for a chat with her when they came home.  She was interested in our lives as we moved on and was someone we went to visit when we returned on leave.  She is definitely an MMM saint!