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Sr. Rosetta   Gray

South Central

My awareness of God stems from early nurture in a deeply Christian family. On  leaving both school and college I experienced a call to serve God more directly in religious life but deferred answering it until the year following my dear father's death in 1947. His lovely life signalled a moment of decision for me and in 1948 I entered the novitiate of the Sisters of Mercy in Westbourne, Limerick.

Following First Profession I was assigned to Adare where the primary school had been extended to include a ‘secondary top'. At that time this development opened a door to secondary education to children who often lacked that opportunity.

In 1958 I was assigned to Westbourne to work with novices in their second novitiate year. Soon, word filtered through that a mission to the U.S. was being considered. I was longing for a Third World mission but felt that this was a step in the right direction and I volunteered. In accord with the U.S. Constitution, no state funding was available for denominational schools so I became involved in the effort to provide education in a Catholic context to children who would otherwise have to avail of the public school system.

In Rockledge, we found a vibrant parish community who welcomed us warmly. Over the years they have come forward to serve as dedicated teachers and as voluntary helpers in clinic, library, playground and classroom. But the greatest gift of all was the children with their openness, their spontaneity, their winning ways. We hope that we contribute in some small way to preserving their spontaneity while promoting their growth.

Over the years I had been hoping that Limerick Mercy would sponsor a mission to the Third World. In 1979 I sought permission to join a congregation already on mission there. The Holy Rosary Sisters welcomed me to Ankpa, Migeria. I obtained an appointment as teacher from the Board of Education in Benue State and joined the staff in St. Charles College as teacher of Religion and English. I found the students open and co-operative, interested in Bible, willing to take part in religion projects while often living in very deprived circumstances. I was glad when one of them joined the Spiritan fathers - he is now an active missionary in South Africa.

By 1984 the Nigerian climate resulted in some bouts of malaria. By 1986 I felt strong enough to respond to the missionary urge again. This time Providence provided an opportunity to join a Cork Mercy group in Kenya , where I was welcomed by Sr. Augustine Gleason, a veteran Mercy missionary in Nakuru diocese.

At that time in Kenya religion was allowed one period a week in primary schools. Fr. Martin Barry, a dedicated Kitegan father asked me to work with catholic teachers in the various primary schools. I recall Patrick Kanyuki walking miles on Sunday to speak to teachers with no remuneration except an awareness of a mission well and truly accomplished.

For me the Kenyan enterprise ended when I sustained a crushed vertebra. Gradually I adjusted to life in an Irish context and eventually became involved in Justice Ministry. I helped in the formation of Limerick Justice Network in 1996. Later that year a Mercy Justice Commission was established with a Justice Office in Limerick to serve South Central Province. Our Justice team engaged mainly in promotion of causes such as refugees, Third World Debt and Fairtrade, with the attention to poverty on both local and global levels. In our ministry, our eyes and hopefully our hearts have been opened to the world's suffering millions, some of whom have landed on our doorstep as Asylum Seekers, where Doras Liumnigh lends a helping hand.

My journey in faith continues. Over the years and over the miles my faith in God's call has thankfully never wavered.

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