Born in County Cork in Ireland, Nora joined the Columban Sisters when she had completed her secondary education. She became a nurse and was assigned to Korea where she has spent most of her missionary life. She worked for many years in the Columban Sisters’ Hospital in Mokpo. Her present ministry is hospice home care in Chun Chon.
Nora grew up on a farm near the town of Macroom, County Cork. She was the second child of a family of six sisters and one brother. When Nora was 11 years old, her dad died suddenly leaving her mother with seven small children all of whom, as they grew older and continued their education, worked on the family farm.
Nora joined the Columban Sisters because she felt called to dedicate her life to those most in need. She became a nurse and in 1973 she was assigned to Korea.
Nora spent her first ten years in Korea working in the Columban sisters Hospital in Mokpo. Each day as she cared for the sick and listened to their stories, she became more convinced of the need to help the terminally ill. Very few of them had access to medication to control their pain nor the kind of care that would help them live their final days in peace and die with dignity. Nora decided to do something about this. She returned to Ireland where she familiarized herself with the hospice movement and studied psychology and palliative care. She then returned to Korea and began working in the hospice movement.
Visiting the sick in their homes is something that the Columban Sisters have always done but this new program added another dimension to this age-old work of mercy. Each day, Nora spends hours with people from all kinds of different faith traditions, accompanying them as they prepare to step over into eternal life. For her it is a privileged way of serving. Far from destroying her energy and vitality, it fills her with new life for beneath the veil of human mortality Sister Nora comes face to face with Resurrection.
Nora’s latest project is the construction of a nursing home on the edge of the city of Chun Chon, Here terminally ill people from the countryside, who are unable to travel to the hospitals in the city, can come and stay. And it is from this place of love and caring that they will embark on the last stage of their life’s journey home to God.
Regarding her missionary life in Korea, Sister Nora has this to say: ‘Despite the difficulties that language and culture can cause, I am so grateful that my assignment has been to Korea. I have met the most wonderful people; I have learned from their faith and their experience. Above all, getting to know and respect the great religions of the East has given me an understanding of a God that is so much bigger and more merciful than I could ever have imagined’.