I received the news of Moira's death with a mixture of feelings: sadness at the loss of a friend, joy as she enters her eternal reward, gratitude for the privilege of having lived and worked and prayed and loved with her, just the two of us, for close to seven years in South Sudan, classified at that time as the poorest country in the world.
In this war-torn wilderness of displaced people Moira set up a clinic – a couple of bamboo huts, no doctors or qualified personnel of any kind apart from herself, and limited supplies of medicines – no power, no running water, no sanitation, no refrigeration; no nothing. Moira told me once the hardest thing for a nurse was to watch people die when you know they shouldn't. Moira did this, but she also did the opposite, she saved lives, many of them – victims of war and disease of all kinds, who would otherwise have died.
Moira's clinic is now a hospital, and even though it is twelve years since Moira left Mapuordit (for health reasons), she is as alive there as she was the day she left. Her memory lives on in an extraordinary way in that hospital and surrounding districts. People still talk about Moira with awe and reverence, “our living saint” as they used to call her. Moira will never die in Mapuordit, she is a legend there.
The Scripture Reading for Mass on the day of Moira's “memories vigil” was taken from Isaiah, and was so appropriate for her: “As the rain and the snow come down from the heavens, and do not return without watering the earth, making it yield, and giving growth to provide seed for the sower and bread for the eating, so the word that goes forth from my mouth, does not return to me empty, without carrying out my will and succeeding in what it was sent to do.” (Isaiah 55: 10-11)
I thank God for the gift of Moira to South Sudan and I thank Moira for the total gift of herself to the neediest of all people whom she loved without limit.
Perhaps some of you, if you are able, may like to make a donation to her Mission in South Sudan, to honour the memory of Sr. Moira, as the work she began is being carried on by similarly committed Missionaries. If so, please label your contribution “Moira.”
God bless you and reward your generosity,
Sr. Mary Batchelor