Sr Margaret Mines: “I learnt to know people and God and myself. I learnt to listen better.”Print
1. When did you know you had a vocation?
In my late teens. But the realisation was very slow. I had been at Mount St Michael’s and there were some nuns there I really admired.
2. How did your family react?
In my family tradition, there are nuns and priests on both sides. So it wasn’t really a great surprise to my parents. As very devout Catholics, they were quite pleased while at the same time they were sad because I would be going away.
3. What was the process like in February 1952 of joining the Sisters of Charity?
Very strange being with a whole lot of other people rather than my family. It was hard to find routine that was expected. The regimentation was difficult to manage – I wasn’t used to that.
4. How many joined with you, how many left?
Fifteen went in. One left after three weeks; 14 were professed. Four left in the 1960s. There are three of us in Brisbane – Sr Nola and Sr Mathilde… in Sydney, Sr Margaret Scully, and Sr Helen Dearn remain. And there is Sr Margaret Mary O’Rourke in Melbourne.
5. You were a teacher (in the making) – what were you keen on pursuing?
I hadn’t planned to be a teacher. I thought I would have been a nurse if I hadn’t entered. I finished teaching in 1980. I loved teaching kids to read and preparing them for First Communion. I didn’t enjoy being a principal. I did that only once and once was enough.
6. What is the major difference you see in Religious Life compared to when you first entered.
Major? Among them is the fact we are better educated about God and many other things. And there is a freedom to understand more about God. There is a great deal more freedom in general. And there is an interest in creation theology and the environment which wasn’t even on the radar in the 1950s. But some things are essentially the same. Prayer life is basic to our lives as Sisters of Charity as it always has been. And the Congregation is the Congregation. And we are here to serve the Church as we were all those years ago – particularly to people on the margins.
7.What was your most challenging time?
The time when I started working as a pastoral carer in 1984 at St Vincent’s both in the HIV/AIDS ward and with people who had life-threatening diseases and in palliative care.
8.Was there a time that was more than usually rewarding?
The same time. I came to know life better. It was confronting and I learnt to know people and God and myself. I learnt to listen better.
9. When people discover you are a Religious sister what is their reaction?
They are very happy to meet someone like that. Mostly they are older people so I hear all the scary nun stories. And there are many happy nuns stories, too, because people admire the religious women who have been in their lives.
10. What do you see as the future for apostolic life in Australia?
I think it will continue in some way. Perhaps not in the same way as now. There will always be people inspired by the Holy Spirit to use themselves in a dedicated, special way to God to help those on the margins.