It must have seemed to Marie that she was constantly finding dead ends. Nevertheless, Father Hugh Kelly, her spiritual guide, encouraged her to draw up more definite plans about the society.
“At the end of my five years-long illness I went again to hospital for an operation, after which they thought there was little hope of my living. During that time my director came in and released my mind greatly by saying I could once more begin to think and pray as regards the work of the missions. From that day, in an extraordinary way, I became stronger. I began to sleep and in a short time I was well enough to leave the hospital. But then I found myself again, with the one great difficulty: the Holy Father had not spoken on religious being allowed to do maternity work and have vows.”
Marie thought about going to Rome, but in 1933 she was able to tell the Pope’s representative in Ireland, Archbishop Paschal Robinson, about her ideas. He said these were an inspiration from God, but not to do anything until the Holy Father spoke. She was disappointed because she had gathered a group of women who were interested to join her “with the one idea.”
“I didn’t know him and I didn’t know how I would get to know him and then I heard that my own doctor happened to be his doctor. So I asked him would he give me an introduction. He met me most graciously. I showed him a little sketch I had written in Africa in 1921.
“He said to me, ‘Miss Martin, that is an inspiration from God, but don’t take one step to become a religious until the Holy Father speaks.’ To cheer me up, he said, ‘That may be either in ten years or a hundred years hence but God will accept your desire to do the work. Don’t even take a house or live together.’
“Monsignor Riberi happened to be His Excellency’s secretary. His Excellency told him of my visit and what my request was. Monsignor Riberi did not quite understand what exactly I needed or what I wanted to do, because he had not been on the missions, but His Excellency Paschal Robinson knew very well and said it was really a work that was very necessary.”
Marie Martin was a woman of discretion. She said, “I came away with his blessing and I knew that God at this moment wanted me to do nothing but to remain unknown and hidden.”
This must have been very difficult but Marie was also astute. She decided to get more spiritual formation. She was very interested in the Benedictine spirit, with its balance of work and prayer; approach to the liturgy; and emphasis on hospitality. She wanted to find a Benedictine monastery to learn the fundamentals.
“Now, I thought, in case it was in ten years that the Holy Father did speak, would it not be well for me to get some spiritual formation for my own soul and later on to have to pass on to my companions, if God ever blessed me with this great desire to be able to have a group of women for the work in Africa? I was always greatly interested in Benedictine spirituality and I thought that if I could get somewhere near a Benedictine monastery, somewhere where I could get just the principles and fundamentals of religious life, so as to have a good solid basis, so that afterwards God, in His own way, could form the spirit of the Order in any way he wished to meet the needs of the Church and time – but where to do that I didn’t know. I didn’t know at that time of any Benedictine monastery being in Ireland. So I was thinking of going off to England.”