Congregational Register No. 391
First Profession: 03.05.1957
Died: 14.12.2004 Aged: 78 years
Margaret Attracta was born in Sligo, one of a large family of seven girls and three boys. She was educated at St. Mary’s National School, Ballindoon, Doyle, Co.Roscommon, and after leaving school, worked as a shop assistant until she entered MMM in 1954.
Following First Profession, Sr. Margaret began her nursing training at the IMTH in Drogheda, eventually going on to do Midwifery and a Ward Sisters Course. She spent several years working in the IMTH before beginning her missionary journey in Leon, Spain, in 1968; there she learnt Spanish and spent seven happy years working in the Operating Theatre. She returned to Ireland in 1975, after MMM withdrew from Leon, and worked for a while at Airmount Hospital in Waterford, before being assigned to Kenya in 1977 where she was to spend the rest of her working life.
Sr. Margaret spent most of her time in Kenya in the Turkana Region in the north of the country where both the climate and terrain can be harsh and unforgiving. She worked as a Public Health Nurse setting up a Mobile Health Unit to serve the semi-nomadic pastoralists of the region. Later, Sr. Margaret became the Co-ordinator of Health Care Services for the Lodwar diocese.
In March 2001, Margaret came home to Ireland and was first diagnosed with cancer. She returned to Kenya in November of that year and remained there doing lighter duties until her final return to Ireland in the spring of 2004.
Sr. Margaret was a quiet and unassuming woman, remembered as “a very kind and thoughtful person, with a calm manner and gentle ways”. At her Funeral Mass, Fr. Austin McKeon, a cousin of Margaret’s, spoke of Margaret as a “true missionary, a great ambassador for Christ.” Margaret would have blushed; she was a modest person, preferring to work in her capable and industrious manner away from the limelight, shunning acclaim.
Sr. Margaret used her time back in Ireland to reconnect with her large family and circle of friends. She joined in the activities at Drogheda as much as she was able to, making light of her increasing pain and the effort it cost her at times to participate. When she was finally moved to Aras Mhuire in December, her condition deteriorated rapidly, and she died less than two weeks later – seven of her siblings and a number of MMMs at her bedside.
Her Funeral Mass was a celebration of Margaret’s life and was attended by a very large gathering of family and friends and MMMs, who all came to say good-bye.
A grand-nephew of Margaret’s informed his teacher that his dying Aunt Peggy was a saint and that she would go straight to heaven because she had looked after sick little boys and girls all her life. The teacher gently reminded the small boy that only the Pope could create saints. The little boy replied “that’s fine, let’s phone him now and let him know.”