SKYPE is used by many Limerick families to connect with loved ones around the world.
It may not be as direct as a nun’s prayer to God, but Skype is serving one nun and her sister in County Limerick very well.
Helen Mullane, resident of Beech Lodge Care Facility in Bruree, uses Skype to call her sister who has lived in an enclosed order for almost 65 years.
“Skyping” is to have a spoken conversation with someone over the internet using the software application Skype. It is accompanied by webcams so the parties can see each other.
Born Nora Sheehan, Sr Mary Michael entered the Redemptoristine Order, known affectionately as the Red Nuns, when she was just 20 years old. It is so called due to their distinctive red habits.
“I felt God calling me, it was like any other vocation and I answered the call. Overall my life has been very happy here, sometimes there are some negatives but overall it is very happy,” she said,
“We all have a cross to bear. When I first came to the convent, we were not permitted to go out at all, only to the hospital or to the doctor if there was an emergency, but that has since changed.
“The rules have relaxed somewhat,” said Sr Mary Michael, who visited Beech Lodge last year, accompanied by two sisters. The order have embraced technology in recent years, broadcasting mass on www.rednuns.com seven days a week. The nuns’ day begins at 6.30am, and is spent in prayer and meditation, and working in the convent in Drumcondra in Dublin.. They eat all meals in silence, except for dinner on Thursdays, Sundays, feast days and other special days.
The sisters enjoy an hour’s recreation each evening and watch the news a couple of evenings a week before the ‘Great Silence’ at 10pm. And Sr Mary Michael, who will mark her 65th jubilee anniversary this year with a celebratory Mass at the convent, plans to include Skype in her weekly schedule from now on.
“This was my second time using it. It was only of late that we got permission to use Skype.
“It really is a wonderful thing, you can call someone in America and see them right in front of you. And it is free, of course,” said Sr Mary Michael.
Helen, who is 87 and originally hails from Newtown, Charleville agrees: “I love using Skype, thanks to the staff at Beech Lodge for helping me with it.
“It is a great way to keep in touch. I can’t go up and see her as much as I’d like, and it is not easy for her to come to me, so it is great to be able to have a chat with her.
“I tell her all of the local news. She loves to hear it.”