While I was still teaching (Buffalo 1970) – though not certifiable yet, I was asked by Ev Kane RSCJ, responsible for studies in the New York Province, if I would like to continue my education as a teacher or if I would like to become a nurse. I had started to do volunteer work at a hospital in Buffalo and really liked the care of patients. I come from a medical family. My response was to choose nursing. I moved to New York City and completed my degree in Nursing at Cornell University NY Hospital School of Nursing. I worked in the emergency room at Metropolitan Hospital (NYC) as an LPN one summer, then as an RN. At the end of that time I went to Probation. It was then I began to think about where I could best serve with my nursing in a place of need and wrote Mickey McKay (on Central Team) to offer to work in a developing country. There was a request the Central Team had received for a nurse in Karamoja, Uganda. I was happy to accept this and went from Final Profession for 6 weeks in Ireland as I waited for my Uganda work permit. From Ireland I went to Uganda towards the end of February 1975. I believe there is an educational part of nursing that I always kept in mind as I served as a nurse in Africa. I felt I was living my rscj vocation fully. During the last 15 years or so I was involved with AIDS Education and Prevention, especially among youth. I remained in the province until 2012, believing that there would one day be enough East African Professed who could accompany each other in their vocation, and also those young women who were coming to the Society. The time serving in UGK Province was truly a gift for me.
I see being “missionary” as part of my vocation as a follower of Jesus. Another aspect of my offering to serve in a developing country was envisioning a community with a variety of ministries serving in a village, bearing witness to the Love of Christ in community and in service. I did experience this and continue to believe today that diversity of persons and ministries in community bear witness to Christ and call us as rscjs to continue to discover and make known His Love in a unique way. As Philippine struggled with culture and incarnating her vocation as RSCJ in difficult circumstances, so we are called today and into the future – the new frontiers, the one body.
An rscj discerning a call to serve in another culture/province/country today might ask herself what calls of the 2016 General Chapter she feels called to live in this new frontier of her life. May she know the risk of leaving her culture to appreciate a new one, will leave her in a new place when she returns to her province of origin, a place of living the Paschal Mystery in a new way – the way of experiencing the Heart of Christ as “home”, and not her culture or country.
–Helen O’Regan, rscj – Uganda / Kenya Province 1975-2012