Sr. Jude Walsh, born in 1921 and baptised Mary Agnes, came from Tourlestrane, Co. Sligo. He was known in the family as “May”. Her primary education was local, but she attended St. Louis Convent, Kiltimagh, Co.Mayo for her secondary education. After school she qualified as a pharmacist as a Member of the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland (MPSI), She remained working in Dublin and worked there for a year before joining MMM in 1947. Several years later in 1978, she was given an Honorary Fellowship in Pharmacy (FPSL) for her many years of service throughout the world to those less well off.
In 1947, she wrote to Mother Mary Martin, expressing her interest in the Medical Missionaries of Mary. Mother Mary immediately saw in this young woman great potential and gave her a date to come, almost immediately!
In 1950, now called Sr. Jude, she was professed and soon found herself, at last, on her way to the place of her dreams, Nigeria, several weeks journey by boat. There she worked in the first foundation of the Medical Missionaries of Mary, Anua Hospital, setting up the pharmacy and training local staff to run it with her. After two very happy years she was transferred to another newly built MMM hospital at Afikpo, to repeat the same process and a few years later she was off again to the next new hospital in Obudu to do the same. It was a time of great expansion for the Medical Missionaries of Mary. In Ireland, USA, Britain, girls and women with religious vocations were pouring into Drogheda and soon young women in Nigeria, Uganda and Tanzania were feeling this mysterious call to devote their lives to God and the missions.
The Medical Missionaries of Mary Convent in Drogheda, the Motherhouse, was brimming over with young sisters and Sr. Jude was called home to be the sister-in-charge. There she worked closely with the MMM Foundress, Mother Mary Martin imbibing her spirit and vision for the young congregation. From then on, her life was in leadership, in Ireland, USA, Brazil, and as Mother General of the Congregation for eleven years. During these years she travelled to all the MMM communities in Africa, South America, Europe, United States, Brazil and Taiwan where we had one community.
Eventually she handed over her leadership roles and at 67 years of age, still a young woman, went to Masaka in Uganda to the MMM Kitovu Hospital where she found herself again in the ministry she loved, Pharmacy. Sr. Jude was the old type of pharmacist who knew the ingredients for mixtures and creams, which had worked very well in her pharmacy in Rathmines in Dublin and now, worked just as well, and were less expensive for the people of Masaka area who at that time were suffering from the AIDS pandemic. Of course, all the modern drugs were also available but many times these mixtures worked much better and had few, if any, side effects. The next five years in Uganda, she said, were among the happiest of her life.
However, the life of a Medical Missionary of Mary is not planned by the individual and in 1999 Sr. Jude was in the air again, this time to Chicago for six years to help with fundraising for the mission needs of the congregation.
Sr. Jude stayed in Chicago until poor eyesight forced her return in 1999. She became an active member of the Drogheda MMM community in Beechgrove, always the first to greet guests as they come to visit. She was known as a great correspondent with friends all over the world. Her Christmas post weighed down the postman!
In November 2020, Sr. Jude moved to Aras Mhuire Nursing Home for extra care and there she celebrated 100th birthday in August 2021. She enjoyed the celebration and was in close contact with her family. Gradually her health began to fail, and she died peacefully on October 12th, 2023. She is buried in St. Peter’s Cemetery, Drogheda.