Sr. Colette sees her Call as a gift from God, a seed that developed after being planted by the hand of God. This letter is a way of sharing some of that story.
Growing up in a very poor family where sometimes, as a child, she had to go to school without breakfast because there was just nothing to eat for a family of seven in post-war Ireland.Â Things changed when a sister of Sion, a distant relative, working in the school inÂ Â Worthing, England helped two children of the family to continue our education in the boarding school in Worthing. That meant that as child I never went home during the school year, as we just didnâ€™t have the money for travelling. So I stayed with the sisters.
After finishing my education, it was quite naturally the next step to enter the sisters and become one of them. I went to France for my novitiate and the next couple of years seemed to proceed very naturally, I experienced no big surprises or difficulties; I saw my life like a tapestry woven by the hand of God. At that time we observed silence through much of the day; only necessary words were spoken, which prevented gossip and other perhaps unnecessary forms of communication.
We also never went home after we entered the Convent. On the 14 of August the whole community gathered to learn our â€œobediencesâ€ for the coming year: it was then that I heard, â€œSr. Collette is going to the Community of Ein Karemâ€ and I accepted this as in obedience without question, â€œwhy me, not her?â€ With that, I left Ireland in 1954 as a young professed knowing I probably would not see my family again. My life belonged to God and only to God.
When I arrived at the gate of Ein Karem after a long voyage by ship and then by bus from Haifa, the sisters were just coming out come out with a dead cow that had to be buried somewhere! Ein Karem was a farm at that time. My first home visit would be after the Six Day War in 1967. At the beginning of my time in Ein Karem I was responsible of milking the cows and taking care of the animals and working the land. Ein Karem began to be a guesthouse in 1965.
So, this year, I am celebrating 60 years of living in the Holy Land and 60 years of my commitment through vows in the Congregation of Notre Dame de Sion. During these years in Israel I have served in the ministry of our institutions as well as, for 25 years, working with the mentally handicapped in the Illwen Center for mentally handicapped which is known now as the Swedish Institute. In Sion I have learned how important it is to follow the signs of the time and God never asks of you more than you can do.