Born in 1967, the fifth of six children, if I could recall what it was that planted the notion of entering religious life it would have to be a number of things. I remember how most evenings we were called to come together to pray, our mother always saying, ‘the family that prays together stays together’. But what was good about the coming together was that we may have begun our prayer over arguments about who took whose seat or who didn’t wash up after dinner, during prayer we always ended up getting the fit of giggles and then returning to homework or TV forgetting about what it was that we were fighting about as children. And Mam never corrected us for giggling, just allowed it to be so! For prayer was something to be naturally a part of who we were together leading to who we might become. At our dinner tables, especially at weekends or holiday times new insights were shared by our uncle, Austin Flannery O.P. With him we would hear discussions on the anti-apartheid movement and boycotting rugby matches, nuclear energy, the peace train, the role of the Church. These conversations led to many a heated argument. We also discussed closer concerns:what was happening on the road; the country – where butter was rationed, the children’s allowance mightn’t have been as much as was needed or better still we loved the stories about our parents, uncles and aunts growing up and their parents!
The local parish at that time was vibrant. Parishioners were aware of the drug situation in Dun Laoghaire. Members of the parish, with the support of the priests, engaged with those suffering in the drug scene to see what could be done. Other activities included scripture groups happening in the neighbourhood, each home taking its turn. The parish was active and this was due to a humble, quiet yet holy man, Fr Chris Mangan. His quiet manner in empowering the parish brought a community together whose members, in the light of Vatican II, were encouraged and supported in the practice of their baptismal call. As members of the People of God they realised they had something to contribute. He invited many of us in our teens to play our role in discussion groups or to become ministers of the Eucharist. It was in this context that the seed for considering religious life came to me. My mother played a crucial role in the parish, becoming a Minister of Eucharist, being part of a group who had morning coffee for the lonely and elderly in the community centre, opening our home to the neighbourhood scripture groups, visiting young mothers and encouraging them to play their role. I thought how it was all so worthwhile that it had me thinking about religious life. Then later going to school in the local Dominican Secondary School introduced me to Dominican sisters – all of this attracted me to the choice I would later make. For these women I thought were people with a lot to contribute. They too spoke about issues that I heard at home, they were visible around town, they cared about the local community and they could laugh! It was all so normal but so lively. The invitation was to continue the journey! Through faith nourished in my home and lived out in such a vibrant manner in the parish, this is where I was attracted to continue with my baptismal call to consider religious life with the Dominican Sisters, Cabra.
Sr Edel Murphy OP