by an MMM Sister Ireland 27.01.2023
Editor’s Note: Today is the anniversary of Mother Mary Martin’s death. As a tribute to her we share the story of one of our MMM Sisters who met her as a child.
I first met Mother Mary Martin in the International Missionary Training Hospital (IMTH) in Drogheda in the 1960’s.
One evening I, with my mother and brothers, had gone in to visit my father, who was a patient in the hospital. On arrival a nurse on the ward informed my mother that we could not accompany her to the ward to visit my father. The patient beside him was seriously ill. We were advised to sit on chairs outside of the Chapel and opposite the Nurses Station, just up from my father’s ward.
After a short time one of the Sisters came along, sat down with us and proceeded to chat to us asking our names and who we had in the hospital. I recall explaining my father was in the ward down the corridor, that my mother was down visiting with him and how we were unable to go down as the other man in the ward was very sick. The Sister listened and then went over to speak with the nurse. Then she came back and said to us “we can go down to the door and say “hello” to your father for a few minutes”. I still remember the excitement as we walked quietly with Sister down the corridor. There was a look of joy on my father’s face when our heads appeared around the door. No words can adequately explain the sheer delight and relief as a child I felt to see my father well again and sailing. The Sister then accompanied us back to our chairs to wait for my mother. She continued to chat with us and assure me that my father was doing well and would be home soon! She then, with a warm and gentle smile, bade us farewell.
When my mother returned to us from visiting, she asked me “Do you know who that Sister is”? She explained to me that she was Mother Mary Martin, the woman responsible for this beautiful hospital. I remember asking my mother afterwards, “Why she built the hospital”. My mother explained how she had founded the Medical Missionaries of Mary Sisters, the ones we often met in town and why she had done so.
Many years later my father, chatting with me then as an MMM, recalled that night and the sheer joy he experienced. He marvelled too how this busy woman who carried such responsibility, and many concerns could notice three small children sat on a corridor and find time to talk with them, allay their fears and bring them so much joy!
Mother Mary was still alive and here with us as the Motherhouse when I joined MMM. Mother was then frail and the Sisters were caring for her. I had the privilege on a few occasions of helping to care for her and then and later on our missions reflected on that first night I met her in IMTH. Reflecting on my own experience and hearing other Sisters and Staff over the years share their stories of meeting, living and working with Mother Mary, I am challenged to be that healing loving and caring presence she was to the little and the great.