by Sr. Eilis Weber MMM Ireland 15.10.2022
Why do you stay in Religious Life? What gives you hope?
Those two questions perplexed me, as I remembered my teenage hopes and dreams and how the idea of becoming a religious frequently passed through my head. Initially, I ignored it, as I had more important “ambitions” in my mind. I became a nurse, acquired my own car and a transistor radio — all luxury items in those days — then realized that I had reached the pinnacle of worldly possessions but suddenly felt empty. The nagging reminders of religious life persisted, becoming more insistent, until I decided at age 26 to give it a try to get it out of my system (and then to get on with my real life!).
In my missionary order’s formative years, we learned we were following Christ in his healing mission by focusing on the health of needy people. We were called “to go in haste,” as Mary did at the Visitation (Luke 1:39-56), and to care for people in places where the needs were greatest. All of this was grounded in our ever-developing relationship with our God of endless love and mercy.
I have done this to the best of my ability for the greater part of 55 years, called and challenged to work in a war-torn country, tending to huge numbers of wounded soldiers and civilians in our hospital, training girls and boys to be nurses and laboratory technicians, all where it was our privilege to bring hope and courage to a people suffering war fatigue and despair.
In all of this, the Lord has been present to us, strengthening us and guiding us in all our interactions.
Now in the autumn of my life, my community and I are to be a healing presence, a powerhouse of prayer, far removed from a war situation. We reach out to the many suffering people with whom we come in contact: refugees, people experiencing homelessness, asylum-seekers, victims of violence.
For us, hospitality is a priority, touching those affected and welcoming them, both physically and by telephone. We are actually in the process of setting up an intercultural initiative to help in the inclusion of people of different backgrounds.
Recently, a couple who attended the funeral of one of our deceased sisters sent us a thank you for the warm welcome they had received and described our community as an “Isle of Tranquility.”
With the Lord’s help, I hope to continue to contribute at this level to our suffering neighbours.
First Published: Global Sisters Report, Sept 2022