Sr Florence Kavanagh

florence_kavanagh_thumbMy name is Sister Florence Kavanagh, sometimes known as Flo!
Although past official retiring age, I continue to do some voluntary work as a Religious Sister of Charity.
I live in a Community of four Sisters. We are engaged in various Ministries, which include, Pastoral/Social Parish work, Primary School, and Hospital Chaplaincy, all of which are inspired by our fourth vow which is “Service of the Poor”.
During the course of my life I have tried to fulfil the Ministries assigned to me. These included Parish Visiting, Child Care, Social Work with two Catholic Agencies and Family Therapy. Now I spend time engaged in hospitality and administration at a local agency supported by the “Churches Together” in our area. The agency is a valuable resource for the people who avail of the services.
A special area of my ministry at the moment is being part of the Spiritual and Pastoral Care Team in two of the city hospitals. I feel very privileged being a member of this Team. I am very grateful to God that I can fulfil this Ministry, it is a blessed time for me and I hope the patients experience God’s love too. I feel also that I receive much more than I can ever give in many different ways, an experience which leaves me feeling very humbled.
A day in my life does not often follow the same pattern. It usually begins at 6.30 to 6.45am. Having greeted the new day, I thank God for so much. This is followed by Morning Prayer, after which is breakfast. Then I am ready to settle to personal prayer for an hour. Sometimes my prayer could be based on one of the Psalms, a passage of Scripture, or a Mantra, all of which I hope sets the scene for my day. Depending on where my Ministry is, I leave the house at about 9.00-10.00am, having sometimes attended Mass in our parish church. My work at the agency is usually in the morning; hospital work is usually the whole day. I enjoy the challenges of the work but hospital work holds a special place in my heart. The story I am about to relate is about a patient at the hospital.

I had been visiting a very lovely man for some time, his name was Andrew, he always welcomed me graciously with a wonderful smile. His illness was progressive, but he often went home for short periods. His treatment was severe but he never complained. Andrew had a partner and a nineteen year old son from his first marriage, whom he loved. Amongst other things Andrew told me that he desperately wanted to marry his partner, they loved each other but never got around to marrying officially. He told me he had spoken to a Chaplain but nothing happened. Andrew and I prayed to find a way forward, God intervened with the help needed, through another person who set the wheels in motion. Andrew became more ill so “haste was the name of the game”, he wanted to be married and his partner and son agreed. We all worked really hard, and eventually the big day arrived, Wednesday November 16th. I attended Andrew’s Wedding in his room at the hospital, in the presence of his family, the Registrar, and a Chaplain, who after the official Ceremony blest the couple, their family, staff members and friends, Andrew’s joy knew no bounds. One of the Sisters of the Community, Sr. Joanna, also attended the ceremony; she had known Andrew, his parents and family for twenty five years.
Andrew relaxed very much after the wedding, but sadly his health deteriorated on Thursday and he died peacefully, on Saturday 19th November, may he rest in peace. I feel that God was very close to all of us on that day and truly present in the whole of this story, and that God continues to bless the family and through them, all of us. This was indeed a very special day in my life and in the lives of family, friends and the staff on the wards who prepared a special meal and were so kind to Andrew and all of us.

My days are not so extraordinary, but each day is very special because one never knows how God, in his mercy, love and kindness is going to reveal God’s self to us, through the lives we touch. Often not knowing what the day holds is such a challenge, but through prayer and mindfulness of God’s presence, I am enabled to continue God’s work.
When I return from the hospital, my evening continues with a meal, followed by Evening Prayer and reflection time. After which there is often time to relax. I like the garden very much and sometimes I relax by working there, hopefully I might even get round to growing some vegetables as well as flowers! My day ends at about 10.30pm with prayers of thanksgiving for so much received.