Ministry in Kenya gave me a realistic understanding of Mercy. I connect this understanding to 'need' and 'commitment'. God sees a need; in his loving kindness he commits himself to it. He asks me to meet some needs and follows me down the nights and down the days to keep me committed to them.
Machakos Diocese in Kenya needed Catholic teachers; I was sent to train them. They were young women needing grounding in the primary school programme. They needed friendship since they were on the fringes of two cultures and they needed to sing! Somehow I managed. We sang and I taught them to read music.
Nairobi city, Kenya needed a Catholic secondary school. I saw the need myself, spoke to the right people and found myself in Huruma High School. Then, after Vatican II, materials were needed for religious education. I helped at this work and was eventually appointed to help teachers as Religious Education Advisor for the Nairobi schools.
I was called to manage our third-level Commercial College in Miguta, Kenya because the Principal teacher wanted some time off. I managed there until one of the Kenyan sisters was trained to take over. Then someone was needed in Njoro. While there I met another need; I did the archives. I sowed wheat and reaped a crop! The archives were completed in Makadara, Nairobi. I returned to Ireland in 1999.
So what about commitment? Actually, none of the above was easy. Initially there was loneliness. There were the frustrations of a developing country. Sometimes it was parched for want of rain, sometimes sodden because of floods; in between it was beautiful. To travel from A to B the car wheels stuck in mud or in sand, or one waited by the bank of a river for the waters to go down. I had to learn a language to understand the trainees giving lessons, to learn Business English to help the young women to pass examinations.
Remembering the need spurred me to keep on going and somehow there sprang from deep down, a tremendous joy. Then I knew I wasn't needed because Kenyans are meeting the needs with commitment.
Sr. Stella McCormack
Note: We regret to have to let you know that Sr. Stella McCormack died on the 3rd December 2011. May she rest in peace.