My sister May (Mary Antoinette Buckley) had been in St Albert’s Sundays Well Cork in June 1935 as an Aspirant with a group of girls about her own age (17yrs). As a group they travelled from St Albert’s to Rosary Priory and became Postulants in July 1936. I attended the Convent Secondary School in Cahir I was aware of the dedication and commitment of the Sisters who taught us.
I had read some books on the Missions. On several occasions I had met Mother Anselm Barnett and Sister Ursula Butler from Cahir whose brother Jack lived there and I knew something about the work carried out by the Rosary Priory Dominican Sisters in South Africa. (I thought I knew everything!)
When I was studying for my Leaving Certificate in 1938 my thoughts were directed to my future life and I had serious thoughts about dedicating my future to teaching and missionary life in South Africa.I had discussed this with Sister Declan who taught me and in correspondence with my own sister, but hesitated to discuss it with my father, my mother had died nine years previously. However May, my sister wrote to him and made him aware of my thoughts and plans and he gladly approved of my plans and decision. I was now 18yearsold. I got in touch with Mother Anselm and all the necessary forms and details were attended to.
On 3rd September1938 accompanied by my father and my aunt Ell, my father’s sister I went to St. Albert’s Cork where I was to meet with Mother Anselm and two other prospective postulants Deborah O’ Shea and Marie Quinlan. I met Deborah O’Shea, Mother Anselm and Marie Quinlan had already gone to Dublin! Deborah, who later became Sister Anthony and I travelled up to Dublin to meet up with Mother Anselm and Maria. We missed them; they had gone ahead in a relief boat! We met a man from Cahir, my home town, who was home from America on holiday and he very kindly, though only a few years older but a much more experienced traveller helped us out in our dilemma!Eventually we were united with a relieved Mother Anselm and peacefully went on our way to Rosary Priory.
All three of us became Postulants on 5th September.1938. I had arrived in Rosary Priory and my Novitiate was about to start. I had met my sister, Sister Bonaventure who was now a Professed Novice. I had met our Novice Mistress about whom I could write and say volumes. She was a kind, holy, motherly person who during the next few years guided me and the other 18-20 novices into the ways of spiritual life. As a group we learned how to keep silence, how and where to talk, how to behave and walk with religious decorum! We had daily instruction periods, learnt how to recite the Divine Office. I had studied Latin for a few years, but reciting the psalms in the language was a very different experience. We also had daily sessions of spiritual reading. We had a fairly rigid regime -NOT harsh. We wrote a monthly letter home. We rose at 6am and retired at 8:30pm. A phone call was an unknown experience and we had no access to a daily newspaper but we existed.
The world was in a chaotic mess. It was war time.
We were aware of this and had all the necessary training in case of bombing.
Sand bags, blackouts and shelters were in evidence. Rosary Priory got a direct hit in one corner; (THE ONLY CORNER WITH NO ONE IN IT AT THAT MOMENT) one Sister was hit with flying glass and was treated immediately by the field ambulance.
We were fortunate to have no other major casualty. Daily Religious life went on as usual and the normality of this helped us to cope with the sounds of sirens and the possible consequences.
Among ourselves we novices had our own fun and amusements and occasional faux pas. We willingly carried out tasks and chores within the house to the best of our ability. Our compliance with observances was observed by those in authority and we were questioned about our intentions and our way of life was discussed with us. We were or were not admitted for clothing or profession when the occasion arrived.March 25th 1939 we were clothed in the white habit and received the veil. Deborah became Sr. Anthony, Marie became Sr. Michael and I (Betty) Elizabeth became Sr. Jude.First Profession loomed ahead, a very important date in my life 2nd April 1940. On this day I pronounced my first vows of Poverty, Chastity and Obedience for three years. Three years later my Final vows were celebrated on 2nd April 1943. When Rosary Priory got a direct hit in 1940 I survived!!
From 2nd April 1940 I have tried as far as humanly possible to observe these promises and to live my life as a vowed Dominican Sister. My main ministry has been that of teaching.I look back over the years and have no regrets as I survey the past. And I thank God for the graces and blessings I have received and hope I have carried out Gods will in all that I have said and done throughout the years.