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Sisters of Today

Sister Marie Skidmore

Profiled in October 2007 (updated April 2013)maire_skidmore

Kia ora koutou,
I have been a member of this community for a very full and life giving 48 years.   As a child in Waipukurau I spent many days in bed with severe bronchial problems a result of this was that I engaged in dialogue with the holy pictures which adorned the bedroom walls.  When I look back I think this probably was the seed of my vocation as it forced me to look beyond the material world! and to trust that all would indeed be well.

As a teenager I attended Sacred Heart College, Whanganui and on leaving school wanted my life to “count” to contribute to the wellbeing of the world. I had always wanted to be a teacher, but when old enough to go to Training College I was too involved in the local social life and decided against it.  Over time though I began to say to myself “there’s got to be more to life than this”… and this became a haunting question until I decided to give entering the convent “a go”. I did not believe that I would last at this, but also felt I would not have peace in my heart until I had tried.

The Second Vatican Council ended in 1965 just as I was entering our community.   This meant that we were encouraged to study theology in the light of the “signs of the times”, and to recapture the original spirit of our congregation.  Since we were founded to live amongst lay families and not in convents, it began an exciting exploration for all of us

I began my teaching career at Sacred Heart College, and ended up having been a pupil, a teacher, the director of religious studies and a principal there!  I enjoyed the wide ranging debate which took place in the religious studies classes when the subject was placed on a par with academic subjects for the assessment of senior pupils at a national level.  The enthusiasm of both staff and pupils to encourage a Christian community and so experience a kind of micro-Church -  stands out for me.

I became involved in the first Justice Commission for the Diocese of Palmerston North and this opened my eyes to the imbalances in NZ society.  This led me to an understanding of the importance of structural analysis skills to interpret the “signs of the times” from a gospel viewpoint.

For six years from 1987 I was full time administrator for our community at a time when we were moving from ministries within the institutional Church to those which took Church to the wider community (this being more in keeping with our heritage).  After this I began to discern ways in which I could put this new direction into practice and decided on a mix of counselling and social work, for which I retrained.  I spent 18 months working for Child Youth and Family on their sexual abuse team and this led to me to want to work with survivors of this abuse. I moved then from social work to counselling.

After some years working for Presbyterian Support Services in their local Family Counselling agency, I am now in private practice as a counsellor.   I see this work as assisting   people bring about the gospel fullness of life for themselves and those dear to them. Currently I work with those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, and also supervise other counsellors and social workers.

At present I am also involved with the administration changes which we, as a community, have had to put in place to keep up with the workings of NZ society e.g. the creation of Trust Boards in order to meet the requirements of the Charities Foundation.

Our current vision statement:  “Fullness of life for the earth and its peoples- Ki tonu te ao me te orokohanga a te tangata”  is leading me towards a more ecologically centred spirituality. I am very grateful to my Sisters for the encouragement to continually search for a more comprehensive understanding of the God/de Who will always be far beyond my deepest imagining -  and the myriad ways in which they support me on my journey.

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