Sr. Jo Anne Kelly MMM Ireland 04.04.2022
One morning recently I visited Mother Mary’s grave. In need of some inspiration, I said to her “I haven’t written anything for a while, is there anything you want me to write about?”
Well, that very evening as I was just finishing my supper, Sr. Sheila came to me and said “Would you write something for Foundation Day?” I should have known that when Mother Mary wanted something done she wasted no time in getting it done.
After years of praying, searching, waiting, and planning Mother Mary finally got permission to found the Congregation. She knew it was needed to provide a medical service to people and places where no such care was available. She saw this as a calling to continue Jesus’s Ministry of Healing on this earth.
But at the time she was seriously ill in hospital in Port Harcourt, Nigeria, waiting for a boat to take her back to Ireland. Monsignor James Moynagh, who had received the fledging congregation into Calabar, celebrated Mass in her hospital room and Marie Martin made her Profession of Vows. That was the Foundation of the MMM Congregation. Her two companions were to be professed six months later. She wrote to her mother “With joy I write to tell you that MMM has been erected and I was professed on Low Sunday. The infant society was born in a hospital.”
It was not certain that she would make the journey home alive but she never did think that it all depended on her. Her Faith was such that she knew it was God’s work and it would continue. Often in life we heard her say. “If God wants the work God will show the way”. A young priest, (Fr. Jarlath Canney) who travelled home on the same boat, came back many years later to visit Nigeria and I met him. He told me that as he was getting on board the boat Mons. Moynagh gave him a letter addressed to the captain. In the letter he acknowledged that if Marie Martin died at sea she would have to be buried at sea. What a precarious start for a new venture!!!
She recovered well but back in Ireland she was so much ahead of her time in her thinking about a religious congregation that bishops were fearful of her new ideas. She was eventually invited by Cardinal McRory of Armagh and found a home, first in Collon, and then in Drogheda. From there, she started off with only the house and little else. She was an astute business woman with a remarkable gift of clear vision, and a capacity to see the big picture and the challenges ahead. Her unwavering Faith in God gave her the courage to do what needed to be done. In setbacks she saw simply the hand of God guiding her in another direction. She had a natural charm and also believed in the goodness and generosity of people. That, and her absolute determination, inspired others and she got tremendous support from people everywhere from all walks of life.
The small spark ignited in Nigeria grew into a flame which was to bring life, vitality, Hospitals, Health Centres and all branches of medical care and training, staffed by highly qualified MMM sisters, to countries of East and West Africa, Brazil and Honduras, as well as Europe and America.
At the time of her death the Irish Taoiseach (Mr. Cosgrave) said “Her concern for the sick, deprived and underprivileged of the world was in advance of her time and a guideline for governments and social agencies in later years.”
In her own words Mother Mary said “Like the Kingdom of Heaven we began as a mustard seed, but ours turned out to be a kind of bomb which exploded in a wonderful chain of God’s mercy”. MMM Sisters from many nationalities today continue to spread that wonderful chain of God’s Mercy throughout the world.After years of praying, searching, waiting, and planning Mother Mary finally got permission to found the Congregation. She knew it was needed to provide a medical service to people and places where no such care was available. She saw this as a calling to continue Jesus’s Ministry of Healing on this earth.