It was very fitting that on a spring Sunday, 23 February, our 90+ Sister Mary Bernardine Rush had her newly completed book Burma – THE GOLDEN LAND presented with much joy and thanksgiving to her many family members young and old, friends, Staff of St Columban’s Nursing Home and Columban Sisters community.
Sister Ita McElwain, Community Coordinator, Magheramore, warmly welcomed all gathered for the occasion. Then Sister Ann Gray, as Congregational Leader, spoke of the process of finalizing Sister Bernardine’s manuscript for printing and publishing. East and West came together in the process with the Sisters in Myanmar (formerly Burma) cooperating in many ways – the front cover sunset photo came from the camera of Columban Sister Teresa Kim, Mandalay, Myanmar.
Here are some photos of the gathering along with a look back in time to the pioneers of the Burma Mission and with a peep into the singing lesson being conducted by Bernardine those many years ago.
Sister Ann Gray’s Introduction to the Burma- THE GOLDEN LAND
“Burma is a country that was originally rich in natural resources but at the time of the first mission of the Columban Sisters there it was a land wracked by hunger, poverty and poor education. In BURMA – THEGOLDEN LAND, Sister Mary Bernardine gives a vivid picture of the strange surroundings in which the first Sisters found themselves and their striving towards adaption to a life that called for great courage and stamina.
Interspersed with extracts from letters sent back to our Motherhouse in Magheramore, her account portrays a deep sharing of life which led to profound respect for the people among whom the Sisters so closely lived and worked. This growing love for the people of Burma and diligent work on the part of the Sisters led to a thriving mission and a steady raising of the standard of education offered to the children who would be the future of the country.
Burma is a country that has contributed greatly to the history of the Missionary Sisters of St Columban. It has also remained close to our hearts all through the years after the departure of the first group of Sisters missioned there. This account is a fitting tribute to the Sisters who pioneered our Burmese mission and to the people who so warmly welcomed us into their lives.
Sister Ann Gray Columban Sisters’ Congregational Leader January 14,2014
In the final chapter of the book Back After 38 Years, Bernardine recounts the ‘interval’ between the first Columban Sisters’ foundation in Burma (1947) and their return there in 2001 when Sr Tammy Saberon obtained a visa which she was able to renew several times. Then in March 2003 a Columban Sisters community of five took up the story of our mission there.
And, as Bernardine happily relates: “Soon after (the Sisters’) arrival in 2003, encouraged by old friends and former students, they asked if one of those obliged to leave in 1966 could come for a visit. This writer was the lucky one!”
Bernardine, with joy in her heart, signs her book …and above, Anna, a young great-grandniece settles down to a quiet read!