Sr. Raphael was born Margaret Mildred in April 1925. She was born in Athlone, Co. Westmeath and this is where Mildred had her early education at the local convent school. The desire to be a missionary Sister came early and Mildred joined the Medical Missionaries of Mary when she was eighteen. This was just six years after the Congregation was founded. She took the religious name of Sister Mary Raphael. She was a bright girl and had done well in her Leaving Certificate so she was encouraged to study medicine. She began these studies while still in the initial religious formation period. As a student, she lived in Rosemount, Dublin, and helped the fund-raising effort by becoming an expert bee-keeper!
After completing her medical studies which included a year’s post -graduation training in Drogheda, she was immediately assigned to Tanzania and was the Medical Officer in charge of Dareda Hospital for two years.
Unfortunately, she soon became ill and had to return to Drogheda for rest and recuperation. After this, a small change in direction in her medical career took place. Off she went to London to study Ophthalmology. This was a three -year Diploma course and on her return to Ireland she worked for a year in Dublin before travelling to her next missionary assignment. This time it was to Nigeria, St. Luke’s Hospital in Anua. She loved the work but many Sisters had to return to Ireland during the civil war which broke out in 1967. Sr. Raphael came in 1968 and worked for several years in various hospitals in England and Wales. She did have the opportunity to return to Nigeria briefly with a Caritas emergency relief team in December 1969.
In 1973, Sr. Raphael was asked to brush up on her obstetric skills in Waterford Maternity Hospital in preparation for yet another missionary assignment. This time it was to Tanzania and for five years she worked as a doctor in Dareda and Namanyere hospitals.
When Sr. Raphael returned from overseas mission, she continued in active ministry in Ireland. She helped in the guest department in Beechgrove while keeping up her medical eye clinics with the North Eastern Health Board, also in Kildare. In 1986, she was involved in a severe car accident and it took her some time to recover after that. She finally found a ministry which she gratefully enjoyed. She was given the title of Audio-visual Archivist at the Communications Department, but in reality, she was the “go to” person when you wanted something done! She went on trips all over the country bringing communication material and messages all over the place. As a pensioner, she had a free travel pass which she enjoyed immensely.
Sr. Raphael had a cheerful and happy disposition. She lived simply and had great devotion to the Rosary.
Finally, Sr. Raphael came back to the Beechgrove community to retire and moved to Aras Mhuire for extra care in July 2014. She had many happy years in the Nursing Home and slipped away peacefully in the early morning of May, 13th, 2022. She is buried in St. Peter’s Cemetery, Drogheda.