My vocation story like most others was first influenced and nurtured in my own home in Co. Limerick. Every morning my father would kneel and pray at a kitchen chair before beginning his work on the farm. This simple gesture made a lasting impression on me.
I first encountered Mercy sisters when I was sent to a Mercy boarding school for my secondary school years. They were on the whole, happy, fun loving, prayerful people who encouraged us in every way. The notion of joining them never occured to me until my final year. I felt that the only way to get it out of my system was to go in and give it a try and if it didn't work out I could come home and get on with the rest of my life.
Four of us from the class entered in 1968. I obviously liked what I saw and experienced during those early years and my time in the Novitiate was both life giving and happy. Soon after making first profession I went to teacher training college for 3 years. That was my first exposure to life outside of Mercy. I got on well there and in my final year and the year following I went through a very dark experience in prayer over which I had no control. That experience certainly shaped my spiritual life and I knew that God would never again be taken for granted in my life.
I made final profession in 1976 and for the next 25 years or so I taught in various Primary schools. I lived in big communities and small and for a short period lived on my own. During those years I met many wonderful people and endured many challenges. In 1982 I was one of four people asked to start the mission in Brazil. I was very excited about this but alas my missionary career did not last long. In less than two years and with great frustration and disappointment I was back home again.
I returned to the school scene and did 6 years as a Principal followed by a year as local leader in a big community. Where ever I was asked to go for the sake of ministry I went. This gave me great inner freedom and I learnt early in life that I can be done without very easily and ministry depends more on God than on me. All the moving about helped me to realise that God is the only constant in our ever changing World.
Serving on our Provincial Leadership Team in recent years was another sobering and challenging experience. At the end of your time you are both jobless and homeless and this forced me to look at who I really am apart from what I do. The temptation to slot back in to school life, which I loved, was very strong. However, the pull of the Congregational Chapter to "work with people in extreme poverty" tugged at me too. After honest discernment I have chosen to work in Prison ministry. For the first time ever I have done out a C.V. and gone for an interview. I was apprehensive and nervous when my new job started. I hope that life in Mercy has taught me to be truly merciful and compassionate. I am grateful for all of life's experiences and the opportunities I have had to serve. This is surely what vocation is about.