by Sr. Cecily Bourdillion MMM     Ireland       09.08.2022

My last mission was in rural Malawi, ministering at Kasina Health Centre. Though the people of Kasina are subsistence farmers and live from hand to mouth it was wonderful and amazing to witness patients using a cell phone to contact family to report their admission or to give other information. In the villages solar panels charging the phones was a common sight. Near the Health Centre was a pylon to ensure availability of telecommunication.

It was there that someone predicted that one day we would be able to see the person speaking to us over the seas. I expressed my certitude that this was an absolute impossibility!

My first experience of a telephone was living on a farm in Rhodesia – now Zimbabwe. There was great excitement when the telephone was installed. It was a “party line” which meant that our neighbours used the same line. We each had a special ring – ours was three short rings. We knew when our neighbours were receiving calls. We could have listened in but would not dream of doing so! The phone was activated by turning a handle. We had to go through the “exchange”- a person at the end of the line- to get through to a number.

I again met the “party line” many years later when in rural Nigeria. On one occasion I was speaking with a friend telling of a journey I would be making when we were interrupted by the lady on the exchange reminding me that she had an appointment with me on that day!!!

Many years later I was visiting in England. By this time, I had become used to using the “land line” with easy dialling and communication. The phone rang and I answered. The caller asked for my brother, and I asked the caller to please hold the line. I put the telephone down and ran upstairs to tell my brother. He asked me for the phone so that he could answer the call. I was now in the world of “mobile phones ” and did not realise it!

What a wonderful means of communication is the telephone – to be able to speak to and see our loved ones far across continents – and to write our letters and read the news, listen to concerts and engage in Zoom meetings and attend Mass and prayer services.
Mother Mary Martin was aware of the power of communication and the technology that promoted it. Thus, came about The Visitation – the film about the early days of MMM.

Communication is an essential aspect of human life and activity – communication with God, with our fellow human beings, with the animal world and creation. Communication is necessary for the building of relationships and good relations are the essence of harmonious living.

My prayer is that the wonderful advances made in communication technology may always be used by us human beings to surmount barriers- especially those of gender, colour, culture, class, creed – and to enable us be ever more caring, loving and compassionate as we endeavour to re-build a world of peace and justice.