Sister Josephine found her life’s calling very early. In 1955, she left her home and family in Ireland before even finishing high school, to join the Presentation Sisters.
The Bishop of Fargo, Right Reverend James O’Reilly, who was from Sister Josephine’s hometown, spent time recruiting vocations for the Fargo diocese in Ireland in the early 1920s. Two of Sister Josephine’s aunts decided to travel to the U.S. and become Presentation sisters.
As Sister Josephine approached high school age, her parents knew that she was also interested in joining. At the age of 14, she met with two visiting sisters and was ready to go right then. But with her mother pregnant and many responsibilities on her plate at home, she stayed in Ireland for two more years to help out her family.
But finally, at age 16, she was able to make her dream come true and join the Presentation Sisters. Their mission is to help the poor and those in need around the world. They often focus on creating and staffing schools to educate young people. In that vein, after finishing high school in the U.S., Sister Josephine became a teacher and taught for 28 years. She also worked as a dining room supervisor at Riverview Place retirement home in Fargo before retiring herself.
Sister Josephine first heard about Mercy Home through a mailing she received. “I responded because of my love for children and young adults, especially when they have experienced abuse or violence or neglect in some way in their home life,” she said. “You know, I’m one of 10 children so I was used to taking care of little ones, and my teaching for all those years, I helped children in the classroom.”
After years of giving, Sister Josephine feels confident that her donations are being put to good use. “[From what I read], with the help of the very well-trained staff at Mercy Home, it really changes the lives of those young people and prepares them for a successful future,” she said. “It just turns their lives right around.” The Presentation Sisters founder, the Venerable Nano Nagle, believed “doing what needs to be done” was of utmost importance. Nano devoted much of her life to teaching children, particularly those who were poor. It is her legacy that Sister Josephine is inspired to follow.
“She loved the children, and she did what she could for them,” she said. “And her motto, doing what needs to be done-that’s what Mercy Home does.”