Sister Jacinta was born Teresa Roche in Oulart, Wexford in 1938, the seventh child in a family of twelve, six boys and six girls. She grew up on a farm and developed a strong work ethic from an early age. After her early education in Enniscorthy and Ferrybank and helping with housekeeping at home, she joined MMM in 1957. After profession she trained as a nurse-midwife in Drogheda.
In 1966 she was assigned to Nigeria. She spent her first eight years in our busy general hospital in Eleta, Ibadan, as a staff midwife. During her time there an epidemic of cholera broke out, affecting thousands of people. Jacinta showed herself to be a very practical nurse during the crisis, able to find veins in seriously ill patients where no one else could, so they could be rehydrated them. Despite the size of the outbreak fatalities were few.
Jacinata then went to rural Akpa Utong, where she was acting matron for a year. After a few months in Irele she moved to Ondo, where she was the hospital matron for four years. In 1981 she returned to Ireland. She worked as a staff nurse and midwife in Waterford for a few months before helping in the MMM infirmary in Drogheda.
At the end of 1983 she was again assigned to Nigeria. This time Jacinta was based at a very busy clinic in Mafoluku, Lagos, and she was to spend almost twenty-five years there as a general nurse. The clinic was near the airport and she often provided transport for MMMs and others. She also served in local MMM leadership.
Sister Jacinta returned to Ireland in 2008 and helped in the Motherhouse. When her health began to deteriorate she transferred to Áras Mhuire in 2015. She died there somewhat unexpectedly but peacefully on 13 November 2019, surrounded by MMMs and family members.
Jacinta was a deeply spiritual person. While in Áras Mhuire she said that her favourite prayer was the Our Father because it was easy to remember. She liked to just sit in the chapel and repeat the words quietly. She was very down-to-earth. A shy woman, she had a wry sense of humour and could come out with a hilarious ‘one-liner’ while maintaining a ‘poker’ face.
Her funeral Mass was con-celebrated by four St. Patrick’s priests, led by Father Tommy Hayden. He was assisted by Fathers Feeney, Dermot Connolly and Pat Kelly, chaplain of Áras Mhuire. Father Hayden knew Jacinta well in Nigeria and spoke of her compassion and dedication for the sick and less fortunate. He commented on her ‘no fuss’ approach and how she dealt with emergencies calmly and quickly.
An unexpected surprise came after the meal with a phone call from Nigeria. It was Sister Eunice Okobia, who had worked closely with Sr. Jacinta in Lagos for many years. She remembered the love and friendship she and Jacinta shared and was with everyone in spirit. Jacinta’s niece was very happy to connect with her.