Sister Breda's Story

I am the second eldest of a family of four. My mother was a Catholic, and my father came from a strong Scottish Presbyterian background. As my father worked as a fitter and turner in the mines, we lived in many places such as Modder Bee and various mines in the Free State. We were fortunate enough to be able to attend Convent Schools. So, I presume that influenced me to become a Sister. 

After completing my schooling, I still felt that I was called to serve Our Lord. Although my father was a Presbyterian, he gave me every encouragement. My cousin and I decided to enter the Dominican Order, but I decided it was not for me at the last minute. A year later, my mother took our family to a Vocation Exhibition at the Marist Brothers College in Jo’burg. The Sisters of Nazareth had a stall showing all the different works, and I immediately knew that is where my calling lay. After corresponding with the Sisters for some time I was then told that I was been sent to the Noviceship in Melbourne, Australia. In those days’ jets were unheard of, so my first trip was by Viscount. I was quite apprehensive but excited about going to a new country. The first leg of the journey was Cocos island, where we touched down for refueling, then on to Perth, Australia. After a stopover of five hours, we left for Melbourne. It was quite a long journey, and I was ready for bed by then.

After almost three years Novitiate, I made first Profession after which I was given the good news that I was returning to my native land. When told, I felt like shouting Hurrah of course, in those days, it would have been unacceptable. On arrival in Johannesburg my family was there to meet me. My joy was short-lived as I was assigned to Port Elizabeth after a few days. The work there was challenging; the hours were long, but we were all in it together and enjoyed it.

Life was different then as we did not have many creature comforts and lived frugally. Since then, I have worked in Durban, Jo’burg, Kimberley, Fourteen Streams, Pretoria, and Cape Town.

Each house provided new challenges, but, in every cloud, there is a silver lining. For instance, I was waiting at the airport when a lady approached me and asked if I was Sister Breda. She then went on to say that I cared for her and her sister some 25years ago. She reminded me that I always gave them chips when their father never came to take them out. So, you see, an act of kindness is never forgotten.

I started my General Nursing at Groote Schuur Hospital in 1981 and graduated after three years. I loved every minute of it but could not wait to finish to come back and work in our own houses.

I was then appointed Superior quite a few years ago, and I am still getting used to new technology, managers, etc. But each day, I give thanks to God that I have persevered as a Sister of Nazareth.

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