O’Conor, Sr. Maria Goretti

O’Conor, Sr. Maria Goretti

Sr Maria Goretti OConorNationality: Irish
Congregational Register No.
D.O.B. 31.05.1932
First Profession: 08.09.1955
Died: 30.04.2007 Aged: 74 years

Mary (Mae) O’Conor was born in Dublin, where her father worked as a foreman in a large factory.  She was the eldest child and had four brothers and two sisters. She was educated at the Holy Faith Convent and later at Gaffrey’s Commercial College.  She entered MMM in Clonmel in 1950 but left in 1951 to look after her younger siblings while her mother was in hospital for an extended period.  She re-entered MMM in 1953 in Drogheda.

Following first profession, Sr. Maria Goretti began her nursing and midwifery training at the IMTH in Drogheda.  She was missioned to Malawi and helped to open the foundation at Mzuzu.  In 1964 she went to Kabanga in Tanzania and worked in male surgical and as theatre sister before returning to Ireland in 1966.  After four years in the IMTH, she went to England to study for an advanced diploma in midwifery in Birmingham.  In 1972, she spent a brief period in the USA, relieving the infirmarian at Pope John XXIII Seminary in Weston, Massachusetts.

Over the next several years, Sr. Maria Goretti worked first in the IMTH and Waterford in Ireland. In Birmingham, England she  was a research sister in the obstetrics and gynaecology department at Selly Oak Hospital, Birmingham. She was part of a team studying antenatal physiology and foetal well-being.

She finally returned to Africa in 1985 in response to the famine in Ethiopia in Tigrai Province.  Following relief work she returned to Ireland and the UK for another two years before returning to Ethiopia in 1988. She remained there until poor health forced her return to Ireland in 2006.

Much of Sr. Maria Goretti’s time in Ethiopia was spent working as the health coordinator of the Ethiopian Catholic Secretariat. She became very adept at finding her way through the voluminous red tape involved in obtaining visas, work permits, etc.  She was of great assistance to numerous religious and lay personnel over the years and they remain very grateful for her tireless efforts on their behalf.  She was also of great help to young Ethiopian Sisters in project writing. People came from all corners of Ethiopia seeking her advice and help and she was a ‘listening ear’ to many.  She was also the Area bursar for MMM in Ethiopia and helped many poor people to obtain the basic necessities of life.

She returned to Ireland in 2006 and her steadily deteriorating health and eyesight was a great cross for her to carry, especially in the last months of her life.  In the end, although she had been very ill for some time, her death was peaceful.  A nurse was with her at the time and Maria Goretti said, “I am saying my prayers.”  The nurse replied, “Say one for me”.  She continued changing Maria Goretti’s position and Maria Goretti slipped quietly and peacefully away.