I started out as the youngest of eight children from a happy Catholic family. All my brothers and sisters went on to marry, have children of their own and generally do the sensible things. But I, with the privilege of being the youngest, felt the desire to do something different with my life.
At weekends I volunteered in a children’s home. It was my first personal encounter with the reality that all is not well in the world and made me feel that I wanted to do something somehow to make it better in my own small patch. I was offered a full time job in the children’s home, so I moved in and spent 18mths living, working and learning there.
From there I moved to a home for people with multiple sclerosis and came to believe that the best way I could serve them would be to train as a nurse. The only slight problem was that I could not stand the sight of needles, but I was sure that as God wanted me to be a nurse he would cure me of this fear. I was young! But, after several fainting episodes it was I who was cured of the notion that this was my vocation.
So I thought I would give religious life a try and joined the Servite Sisters. It was a decent try which lasted 23 years: God had much to teach me. During that time, I trained and worked in many and various situations, as a Community and Youth Worker, Hospice Chaplain and Spiritual Director.
However, in 2002, I discerned that God was inviting me to leave Servite religious life, but with no clear idea of what was going to happen next. I took a part time community work job and waited. Then, in 2004, I heard that the Mount Street Jesuit Centre had been born. I offered my services for when people started looking for spiritual direction. The response was the offer of a chance to type up notes for an elderly Jesuit on the team - not at all what I had in mind! But it was what was needed and so I gave it a try. And from here my life has unfolded in ways I could never have dreamed possible. Without my knowing it God had formed me with (nearly) all that I needed to help develop Mount Street Jesuit Centre.
First I created a programme of Saturday workshops. Then I helped one of the Jesuits facilitate a course in contemplation based on Anthony de Mello’s book Sadhana, at the end of which he said, ‘Grand! Now you can run it on your own.’ And, to my surprise, he was right!
Then people actually did begin looking for spiritual direction. As the programme developed I was invited to become Centre Manager and then Director of Spirituality.
Last year I had the privilege of being directed through the full 30 days retreat of Spiritual Exercises at St. Beuno’s. I received abundant graces which have increased my desire to enable others to experience more and more of the depth and transformative power of the Exercises through our ministry here. My initial desire to offer spiritual direction is coming to fruition beyond my wildest dreams. I have referred over 350 people for spiritual direction. I know the time is right to begin offering a training course in spiritual direction.
All my life, people have wondered aloud when I was going to settle down, behave sensibly, and plan ahead. I realise that I have a creative (some would say restless) nature. I have never stayed in a job for more than four years, until I came to work with the Jesuits of course! Fortunately my role here is constantly evolving. My creative (or restless) self has found a home, and I hope and pray I will be blessed with working here for many years to come.