Mother Mary Martin

Mother Mary Martin

by Sr. Sheila Campbell MMM        Ireland         26.01.2022

Mother Mary 1 resizedTomorrow is the anniversary of Mother Mary Martin’s death. When people ask me “Did you know Mother Mary?” I used to answer, “oh yes, I met her once.”  And indeed, I did meet her once, with my parents, when I came to Drogheda to be interviewed before I joined MMM.  I always thought I knew her.  I had this little memory encapsulated in time.  I also had countless stories often told, sometimes rather wryly, by some of the older Sisters.  There were stories of her endless kindness, of her soft spot for alcoholics.  There were tales about her bad driving, erratic parking and the way she could charm the elderly clerics.

But these days I have begun to appreciate her in a whole different way.  I have been sitting down and writing stories about snippets of her life.  For this I had to go back to source material and sit with it all again.  The first thing that strikes me is her tenacity.  The Church said no, religious women cannot do obstetrics and surgery.  She said: “But I am asking for permission” and she sat it out for years, talked, wrote letters and persuaded and finally the permission arrived.  She never gave up.  She never walked away from the challenge.  What prepared her for this?  I think it was years of helping to run a large family home.  Her mother was widowed young, pregnant with her twelfth child.  Marie, second eldest, was her right hand in raising the children and running the household.   She knew you just couldn’t walk away and do her own thing.  People were dependent upon her.

Another thing that impresses me a lot now is her capacity to sit with the unknown.  She genuinely did not know for many years what was God’s call to her.  She tried one thing and it didn’t work out, tried another and a third.  Each time a small piece of the puzzle was falling into place but she was not granted any certainty of her choices.  This helps me a lot to know that someone else has gone through the “rough patches” when I am in the midst of them myself.  Our world has gone crazy these times with the pandemic.  Mother Mary would have rolled up her sleeves, dealt with the immediate needs and put all the confusion to the back of her mind.  So, Mother Mary could certainly be called upon as a Saint in covid times!   As our young African Sisters say, “Mother Mary Martin, pray for us”.