by Sr. Sheila Campbell MMM Ireland 10.09.2023
The story is told about one of our early MMM Sister Doctors, Sr. Margaret Mary Nolan. Sr. Margaret Mary was a highly qualified surgeon, obstetrician, and gynaecologist when she entered MMM in 1939, just two years after we were founded.
Because her mother was a widow and an invalid and Margaret Mary was her only child, it was arranged that Mrs. Nolan would live in with MMM. There she truly shared life with the young MMM Sisters, one room being designated as ‘Mrs. Nolan’s dormitory’.
Before entering, Margaret Mary worked in India. After profession, Nigeria became her main field of ministry, but she also spent some years in East Africa, in Chala and later in Makiungu. In Nigeria, in Anua and later in Ikot Ene, Minna and Eleta, she became an almost legendary figure. The people had such faith in her, that when Pope Pius XII died, they cried, “Why didn’t they send for Sister Doctor?”
This story comes from her time in Nigeria. She was the Medical Officer in Charge in Anua. She was also the examiner when it came to nursing examinations. So, one day the student nurses thought up an unusual present.
Sr. Margaret Mary was an ardent advocate of Africans eating African food and made no secret of it.
“You could not please Sister Doctor when it comes to diet,” said one young nurse after her examination. “She asked me, ’From what food do Nigerians get their protein?’
“I said, ‘Meat.’
“She said, ‘Nigerians eat meat once a year. Anything else?’
“I said, ‘Eggs.’
“She said, ‘Nigerians sell their eggs.’ (This was quite true as you could buy them cooked in the market.)
“I said: ‘Beans.’
She said, ‘Mh – mh,’ which is equivalent to: ’Now we are getting somewhere.’
So, on her feast day the student nurses thought the time was ripe to introduce a new member of Staff. They introduced Sr. Margaret Mary to Doctor Diet. Doctor Diet was a doll.
His hat was a coconut, his head was a large lemon, and the hair was made from strands of dried meat. The eyes were fashioned from roasted groundnuts and fat. For the eyebrows, they used Marmite, for the mouth a slice of tomato and the ears were made from palm fruit. The body was a large yam with bananas for arms. The buttons of his tunic were made from cheese and his belt and collar made from orange peel. The tunic? Green Leaf.
Doctor Diet was a well-balanced addition to the Nutritional Unit!