Today’s Nunday photo and story come from Betsy in Texas about her dear friend, Sister Margaret McCormack.
I met Sister Margaret McCormack, CCVI (Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word, San Antonio) in 1979 when I was 15 years old. She was one of my teachers in high school but, much more than that, she is one of my biggest cheerleaders, role models, prayer partners and inspirations.
I probably don’t even remember that much from the class she taught back then but the life lessons she has taught me will last forever through me and through my children.
When I was an unhappy teenager she was there for me.
When I was a happy teenager she was there for me.
When I hated my mother she was there for me.
When I loved my mother she was there for me.
When, as an adult, I came to a sort of “truce” with my mother, Sister Margaret was there for me.
When I was a mixed up adolescent trying to figure out my place, Sister Margaret was my sounding board.
When I decided to go to nursing school, against the advice of many people, she supported me.
When I was in nursing school she sent me letters and notes telling me to “pray and stay close to the Lord and I love you.” I read all those notes to my roommates who laughed and said “what an old fashioned friend you have” but I knew they were secretly jealous!
When I graduated at age 21 and became a Registered Nurse, she clapped in the audience.
When I was a mixed up adult trying to discern if I had a call to religious life, she was there for me and EVEN MORE IMPORTANTLY when I decided that wasn’t meant to be she told me that didn’t matter to her, she still loved me and knew I would do good in this world and it didn’t have to be as a religious sister.
When I made bad boyfriend choices and when these same bad boyfriends broke my heart I never even had to tell her; she KNEW and was supportive anyway.
When I needed a place to spend the weekend or the night or just the afternoon, no matter where she lived her door was always open to me.
When I decided it was time to travel and see the world she sent me off with more of her same advice – pray and stay close to the Lord.
When I settled in Utah and moved in with my Jewish boyfriend she didn’t care and was still there for me.
When I married him three years later (Outside the church, no less!) she flew 700 miles to be there for me. She welcomed my husband into the “family” and loves him for no other reason than the fact that he loves me.
When my husband and I moved to Texas, Sister Margaret and I rejoiced because she had moved to the Motherhouse in San Antonio and even though I was in Dallas, we were living in the same state again for the first time in 6 years!
When I had my first child and named her Margaret, Sister Margaret was the first person I called and she said it was only right that I name the baby after her because the name Margaret meant “intelligent” and “beautiful.” In the midst of her own grief – for that very same day she was leaving for Ireland to bury her brother – she rejoiced for me and then when they took baby Maggie away to the NICU because she couldn’t breathe on her own Sister Maggie prayed and prayed for her healing. When they told me my baby might not live and might be profoundly retarded Sister Maggie said that we would deal with whatever happened and we needed to just focus on the baby and the celebration of new life.
When we brought baby Maggie home and she was as healthy as can be, Sister Maggie came and spent her first Thanksgiving with us, holding the baby most of the weekend.
When we took baby Maggie to the Motherhouse to visit, Sister Maggie would drop hints about how baby Maggie needed a brother or sister. When I would remind her of my advancing age she said it didn’t matter – her mother had a baby at 44! Four years later when we had a son, she rejoiced again with us.
I have known Sister Maggie for almost 30 years which seems impossible but she is who I think of when I think of a nun or sister.
Everyone in this world needs someone like her.
Photos: Betsy and her family celebrate Sister Margaret’s Jubilee (top);
Betsy's children with Sister Margaret