by Sr. Margaret Anne Meyer MMM U.S.A. 11.10.2022
At last, I found you! These were the words of greeting as Sister Madeleine Le Blanc met me in South Station in Boston. I had not known my mother had phoned Winchester to tell them I had left on an earlier train, so I had gone to the counter to buy a sandwich. I was happy to be found and then whisked off to the beautiful novitiate grounds and large house which was the MMM novitiate in the USA. I loved all I saw and was grateful for the peace enveloping me. It is good to be here. At that time there were eight novices and four postulants who were to be received into the novitiate on March 17th. I do not remember much of the first day except two more postulants arrived in the evening. Both were originally from Ireland, and I thought it would be good to get to know them and hear their stories. Eileen Ashe had left Ireland at aged fifteen and had worked as a nannie for a Jewish family. She loved the children very much but felt called to religious life, two years later. Her older sister had known Sr. Damien Driscoll and when they both visited one day, Eileen told Sr. Damien that she wanted to join the Columban Sisters. Sr. Damien said “Why don’t you come here? So, she did and there she was. The second young woman, Margaret, was older and came at 19 years. She was excellent in all she did and was continually praised by the novice mistress, Sr. Margaret O’Conor. Little did we know that her boyfriend continued to call every day wanting to know when Margaret would leave. She gave it a good try and left seven months before Profession.
Thank God we had an easy introduction into the postulancy. Bishop Fulton Sheen was on television that evening and we three postulants joined the others to listen to him. I thought we would never watch television again I was beginning to feel at home
We were gradually introduced to take on some house duties. The novices were soon to go on retreat and to ease the strain another older novice, Sister Andre Brow, took us out to play in the snow. We had fun that week but following the retreat conferences, we joined in with all the other novices in arising early in the morning to shovel a path for the priest to come up our long driveway to celebrate Mass. I always loved these frosty mornings. The evergreen pine branches glistened with snow, and it was noticeably quiet and peaceful. Coming from high school, I was not used to demanding work or getting it done in a certain time. We tried. One of the novices told us to go to the Sister in charge for ‘elbow grease’ to get things done faster. This caused some laughs, but we plodded on.
Three weeks later I was asked to accompany a senior novice, Sr. Balanid Tardif, to Lawrence MA for a vocation exhibit. I was busy memorizing where our Missions were at that time, Angola, Nigeria, Uganda, Tanzania. ANUT, was the reminder. All I remember of the meeting was that I met Mother Kevina, of the Franciscan Missionaries of Africa. She was their Mother Foundress and I felt very honored to be in her presence. She looked at me very earnestly and said, ‘Many a night I went to bed crying What is the use of it all”? I thought these were strange words to be telling me, but I kept them in my heart and eventually did experience it years later on the Missions. It always brought me to the Heart of Jesus to do for His people what I could not or failed to do.
That summer we wanted to produce a play for our novice mistress feast day. It was to be about the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima. All went well until one of us took a fit of laughing and the play ended unexpectedly. We did better the next time and that is how it was. Trying and failing to get things right and then starting all over again. I loved the house cleaning because it was a mansion and had beautiful rooms sometimes carved in wood. The outdoors was just as beautiful, and the spacious lawns needed constant attention. I loved raking the leaves. We did not have much money despite the grand house we were living in, so we received a lot of food from the government like cornmeal, beans, and sometimes ice cream and day-old pastries, The Sisters made vestments for selling. We had a shop for these and religious articles. Other Sisters mended holes in sheets for a cleaning company.
Altogether it was a happy time. For recreation we would take long walks in the countryside or play softball up on the hill where it was level and used to be a tennis court.
We were learning to pray. We studied the catechism that we had in high school, and I wondered why I never saw the beautiful things written there, Why did God make you? This was the first question in every catechism since the first grade but never did the answer mean so much. God made me to love and serve Him in this life and to be happy with Him in the next. Yes, this is what I wanted to do with my life and bring as many people as I could with me by loving and serving them too as a Medical Missionary of Mary. Soon it was time to write to Mother Mary for permission to be received as novices. It was such a thrill to get her reply. Yes dear, you are getting ready to be a Spouse of Christ. I was incredibly grateful. I will continue with how the novitiate was in my next blog.