by Sr. Joanne Kelly, MMM Ireland 15/10/2021
There are times when I seek a place of real solitude, a quiet place to reflect and pray. In fine weather this is easy to find in our lovely garden amidst the God-given beauty of nature. In the cold dark days I go to the Mother Mary room in our house. This is a beautiful room which portrays in script and pictures the story of Mother Mary Martin, the founding of the Medical Missionaries and the beginning of the hospital known as Our Lady of Lourdes.
I also have the privilege at times of showing visitors round this room – something I thoroughly enjoy doing. I never cease to be amazed at the courage, faith and perseverance that Mother Mary had. I knew her as a shy, frail-looking, gentle woman and with great charm.
For a few years before this pandemic the Knights of St. Columbanus in Drogheda organised a Pilgrim Walk which began in Our Lady of Lourdes Church, visited the seven churches of Drogheda, both sides of the River Boyne, and finished at St. Peter’s Church in West Street. It attracted many people from far and near. One year they asked to include, as an option, a visit to the Mother Mary Room. I was one of those there to show the visitors around. Some wanted a brief look and get on with their walk, some wanted to spend lots of time with the story and others were eager to tell their own story of Mother Mary.
An elderly couple came in, not too sure if they were able for the whole walk, but eager to visit the Room. They were fascinated to see the actual desk (with its ink stains) and chair which Mother Mary used when she organised and directed the congregation at home and abroad and also the kneeler she kept before her little crib all year round, on which there is an indent of her right knee.
The lady remembered the evenings she had in our house when she was part of the Apostolic Work Society. The Society was a group of women who were real missionaries but were not in a position to go out and work in foreign lands. Originally formed in Belfast, Mother Mary established branches of the society in Dublin and Drogheda.
This lady told of the one evening each week when the women met to sew Mass vestments, church linens and anything needed for a new mission and liturgical services. They did knitting and other crafts to make items for the annual Sale of Work as fund raising for the missions. It was a real social gathering, with plenty of chat and sharing – their weekly evening out. Her husband listened to all of this and remembered how much she had looked forward to these evenings, not least to the cup of tea and home – made scones which the sisters brought in before they finished. If Mother Mary was at home she would drop in to greet them and ask about their families.
The man was more interested in the Golden Book. It is one of many Golden books which record the names of all who contributed to the building of the hospital by buying a brick. One could buy a brick for 2 shillings and 6 pence. Whether they bought 1 brick or 1000 bricks their name was recorded in the Golden Book with a promise of a share in the prayers of the sisters and a Mass offered annually for their intentions. They also received one free copy of the MMM magazine.
It was a way that many people in Drogheda and around Ireland helped to build Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital and support the MMM mission work. I give thanks to God for all these good people who in their own way helped to bring God’s Healing Love to others.