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Incarnate Word & Blessed Sacrament

Houston, Texas + + + established, 1873

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Meet Sr. Brendan O'Donnell...

Over my last two years in the Presentation Convent, Tuam, where I spent my high school days, several Sisters came to talk to us about foreign missions. Trying to make up my mind as a senior what Order to choose was tough, but I had it down to 4, with Africa and India topping the list. Then out of the clear blue I got a letter from Sister Sebastian. Her opening was most direct: "A little bird told me that you were gong to be a Sister, would you please think of Texas." Needless to say, my first reaction was ANGER. Who was the little bird, and who would invite me to Texas and I fought that decision that was already daunting me?

I must have been a real trial for my family that summer of 1947, wrestling with that decision without asking anyone for help. My Mother, a very wise woman, encouraged me to visit Sister Annunciata, my Tuam mentor, who was then vacationing down in Keel. Imagine that for a suggestion from a mother. I was 18 and Keel Convent was 30 miles away, a fair bit for a cyclist on my own. Well, I went and sitting on a rock overlooking Clew Bay, Sr. Annunciata went over all my options. By the time my visit was over, she told me: "Texas is where God wants you!". I remember thinking, "That's crazy!"; and fighting that decision for some time.

Telling my family was more than I could do, so when months later the final letter came from Texas, I passed it around to my sisters and their friends before all of us left for an all night dance on a Sunday evening. No one said a word and I left the letter on the kitchen table, knowing that my Mother would read it. Mother's reaction next day was typical as she casually said: "Are you thinking of being a nun in Texas?". When I said "yes", she laughed!!!

A few weeks later Alice, my oldest sister, told me I could not go anywhere without my Father's permission, so on another Sunday evening I told Father. He was thrilled, but when he asked "where?" and received "Texas" as an answer, he was anything but pleased! He wanted me to stay in Ireland. It was only when he wrote out his consent that the family believed that I was serious. I left for Texas on February 2, 1948, and so began my work as a missionary.

There were many who expected me to return quickly. Sr. Anthony, Tuam, asked me the name of the Order and when I told her Incarnate Word and Blessed Sacrament, she said: "It would have to be 'and Blessed Sacrament', as you never passed the Chapel without paying a visit". What Sister did not know was I needed Jesus in the Tabernacle to keep me going and I still do.

I have no regrets and after 60 years, I still feel called to be an Incarnate Word and Blessed Sacrament Sister.

My favorite Scripture verse is...

"O Lord, all good things I have come from You."         Psalm 16

with Sisters Anastasia (75 years) & Sister Mary Grace (60 years)


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