Sister Berchmans was born Nora Christina Roche in Killorglin, Co. Kerry in 1922. She received her early education there and in Arklow. She trained as a pharmacist in Dublin and joined the Medical Missionaries of Mary soon after qualifying. That was in 1945, when the Congregation was only eight years old.
When she arrived at Rosemount, she introduced herself and said she was entering. When it was suggested she wait a little while, she said that she had given up her flat and was staying. We wonder if she was equally decisive with St. Peter when she arrived in heaven, telling him she had made up her mind and had come to stay!
Early on, Mother Mary recognised her giftedness. She was bursar general from 1947 until 1970 and she was also a general councillor for three years. She helped with our first constitutions and was very involved with the plans for the hospital and for the whole congregation.
In 1971 she was assigned to Malawi, where she worked until 2000. During her mission assignment she had varied roles. From 1971 to 1982 she worked in Mzuzu and Nkhata Bay as a pharmacist. From 1983 to 1984 she continued in the pharmacy in Nkhata Bay, spent time in the nutrition clinic, and was a companion to the nursing Sisters. In the years 1986 to 1988 she worked part-time in the Mzuzu pharmacy and part-time doing the Nkhata Bay accounts. She also did the mother and child clinic correspondence.
She spent 1989 to 1996 in Nkhata Bay in administration of the primary health care projects and as local bursar. She was assistant to the local bursar in Mzuzu from 1996 to 2000.
Berchmans enjoyed living and gave herself to these tasks with total commitment and dedication. She had a very happy disposition and had an engaging smile.
She retired for a short time in Malawi in 2000 and returned to Ireland in 2001. She remained active and enjoyed playing Scrabble every evening after supper. She lived in Beechgrove until early 2012, when she moved to our nursing facility, Áras Mhuire. On the evening before she died she had enjoyed being out in the garden with the other Sisters.
She died on Pentecost Sunday, 27 May 2012.