( From a conversation with Susanna now Congregational Leader)
“Growing up in a farming family in Young Am-Archdiocese of Gwangju-Korea, has given me a great love of nature and of country life. I was the second youngest of seven girls and with my sisters worked to help my parents on our family farm, I am familiar with the joys and sorrows involved in this way of life.
Daily, we walked the 30 minute journey to and from our local primary school. Like the majority of the pupils who attended our family was not affiliated with any religion.
Near our school was a tiny chapel and it always aroused my interest. A local catechist, attached to the Columban Parish in the area, held classes in the chapel. I was curious and joined some of my friends who were attending. They were preparing for Baptism, I heard, and again the ‘ seeking’ call aroused me. I so wanted to be baptised when I was 11 years old. But the catechist advised me to wait and eventually 2 years later, permission was granted. I was so happy. My ‘seeking’ had found Baptism and the beginning of a whole new journey in faith. Fr. Dan O’Gorman, SSC baptised me in 1983 and received the name Susanna. When I told my mother I was to receive Catholic baptism she said: ‘Now you will have to be a good girl’ and I replied ” Yes I will“.
Following my Baptism, I, as an enthusiastic Christian, became active in the local chapel helping to prepare the weekly liturgies with my companions under the supervision of the catechist. A priest was able to visit only once a month. This was a precious time and experience for me, a newly baptised, as I continued my faith journey with joy.
I completed High school and went to Seoul to work- my elder sister was already there and she ,too, had received Catholic baptism earlier. My quest and seeking continued when I heard about Columban Sisters “Vocation Days”. I went and again I felt a call impressed by the way Sr. Roberta Ryan led the “Search-In” days. I wished to enlist right away but once again was advised to wait- not easy for me but in hind sight it was right. I shared with my parents and they gave permission-my father said: “go and try” while my mother’s wish was that I remain in Korea rather than go overseas!.
At age 24 in 1994 I made profession in Seoul as a Columban Sister. Following studies in Birmingham I qualified as a nurse and in 2003 became one of the re founding group to Myanmar-36 years since our Columban Sisters expelled from what was then known Burma. Here I found the great scope for my nursing skills among the desperately sick and poor Kachin people.
The political situation was dangerous but I yearned to cross the boundaries to seek out the needy. Given the courage, freedom and trust of the Congregation ” to go beyond and take risks” I was able to spread my wings to meet God in His beloved poor and sick where I experienced a real deepening of my faith.
The Kachin people allowed me to be myself, they loved and accepted me which helped propel me on my missionary journey. The deepening of my faith, begun by my seeking for baptism in Korea, was further nourished through the simplicity of life and warm relationships of the Kachin people.
As a missionary I am convinced that seeking does lead to finding the real treasure.”
-by Sr. Marie Galvin,SSC