Sr Therese O’Regan, one of the stalwarts of the community at Minsteracres Retreat Centre, has just celebrated 50 years since becoming a sister of the Cross and Passion.

The day started with mass where she was joined, not as usual by members of the community but also to her surprise by many of the Minsteracres staff too.

In the 50 years since she professed her vows, Sr Therese worked first as a teacher in the UK. At the age of 28 was sent to Botswana to take on the challenging life of a missionary.

Thirty seven years later, at an age when many of her peers would have been contemplating retirement, Sr Therese embarked on a new stage of life at Minsteracres where she is in charge of hospitality at the retreat centre.

“I’ve been thinking a lot about it, and I wonder how I’ve had such a charmed life,” she says. “At 20 I thought it was all a huge adventure. You have the courage at that age to make a commitment you might not later in life.

“Then you’re certain; you’re full of zeal.” It has to be said that anyone encountering her now would not remark on any lack of zeal!

In this Year of the Consecrated Life, Sr Therese talks with clarity about her own calling, “There was something drawing me on: I felt there was something more. This was the call and I responded. I signed a blank cheque. I knew there was no going back, but to be honest, there hasn’t been any reason to go back.”

To people considering making a commitment to a consecrated life today, her advice is simple, “Listen to your heart. If you feel there might be a call, talk to someone in that life about it – talk to one of us here at Minsteracres!”

As she renewed her vows, among a small group of mementoes on the altar was the candle, lit only once before at her profession and given back to her wrapped in a signed copy of her vows to accompany her through her religious life. (“It’ll be 85% beeswax,” she chuckles, “none of this paraffin wax you get these days.”)

“That candle has travelled with me everywhere and when I die it’ll be burned alongside my coffin and the vows will be put in my hands.”

Reflecting the words of her vows, she adds, “I pray that God will give me the strength to be faithful until he calls me home, until death brings me back to the God who created me, called me, enabled me to live this life and hopefully, channelled some of his love through me.”

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