Sister Maureen (Paul) was born in Limerick in 1920 and spent her early years in Cork. When her family moved to Booterstown, Co. Dublin in 1934, her new home was only five minutes away from Rosemount, the property Mother Mary Martin had acquired through her brother Desmond, and which was to become the MMM House of Studies.
Maureen joined MMM on 6 January 1939, when the congregation was less than two years old. She completed her postulancy in Collon, Co. Louth, at a house that Mother Mary acquired when Cardinal McRory, Archbishop of Armagh, invited her to the archdiocese.
She was the eighth Sister to be professed as an MMM. After profession she moved to Rosemount and trained as a nurse at Saint Vincent’s Hospital in Dublin. Her parents were great supporters of MMM, and it is said that in the early days, if unexpected visitors came to Rosemount, Maureen would run to her parents’ home and borrow saucepans and recipes from her mother!
She worked as a floor and theatre sister in Drogheda for two and a half years. She then trained as a midwife in the Lourdes Hospital. In 1949 she was assigned to the Apostolic nunciature in Dublin, where she served for ten years. During that time she also worked for two months in the Apostolic delegation in London.
In 1953 Sister Maureen was elected to the MMM General Council, on which she served for six years. In 1959, she was assigned to our clinic in Naples, Italy, where she worked for about a year.
Her dream of going to Africa was realized when she was assigned to Tanzania in 1960, where she spent a total of four years. A woman of many talents, in Chala she did housekeeping. In Mpanda, Kabanga and Dareda she was a staff nurse. In Dareda she also taught English to student nurses and to young women interested in joining MMM.
In 1965 Maureen went to Ethiopia. For the next twelve years she was based mainly in Gambo and was involved in public and community health care and programmes for people with Hansen’s disease (leprosy). She also spent a year in Metcha in community health care. Life in Ethiopia, as in many other places, was challenging. People lived in remote and mountainous areas and transport, or lack of it, added to the demands. Often the only means of getting around was by horse or mule, which Maureen managed with aplomb.
In 1977 she returned to Ireland. After briefly helping with mission awareness work, she became passionately involved in teaching and promoting the [Billings] Ovulation Method of family planning. She trained group leaders who helped many couples. Many of these leaders remained her close friends. Maureen was the co-ordinating secretary of the National Association of the Ovulation Method of Ireland and produced their newsletter. She maintained a reference centre for the association and for MMMs who were involved in teaching the method overseas.
From 1986, she was also a Eucharistic minister. More recently she became involved with the neo-catechumenate, a new group within the Church that focuses on the formation of adults. Weekly meetings were held in nearby Our Lady of Lourdes Church.
Sister Maureen moved to Aras Mhuire for nursing care in 2015. She died there peacefully on 21 September 2017.
Maureen was described as a real lady. She was very gracious, much at ease with people, and had great respect for the dignity of each person. She was also very artistic and in the early days of MMM she made all the cards and invitations that were issued. She was a deeply spiritual woman, strong in faith and totally committed to the ideals of MMM. She had a quiet determination that enabled her to overcome obstacles. She was great company, even in her final illness, and was interested in everybody and everything, especially her beloved family.
Miriam Wainwright, one of her thirty-two nieces and nephews wrote of her: ‘She loved and influenced each one of us. Our beloved aunt, Maureen, has always been there in our lives, a loving, supportive presence; a gentle force. She was a model of kindness, of consistency, of integrity. Like a good wine that increases in value, we learnt to appreciate her wisdom, grown over a lifetime of prayerful self-discipline in service to others.
‘We celebrate her courage in joining the pioneering, radical and visionary community founded by her friend and mentor, Mother Mary Martin. We are proud of her strengths: of thoughtfully searching and standing for the truth; of quietly championing the weak and the vulnerable, expressing these through the life of community with her family of MMM sisters. We will miss our lovely Aunt. Thank you, Maureen, for the warmth of your smile, your acceptance, your delight in our presence, your love.’