Mary Ann O’Driscoll was a saint in our midst. Her vibrant Faith was felt by all who knew her and will be sorely missed, especially at Liberia Mission where she was the Director from January – July 2015.
Mary Ann, 24, was hit by a speeding vehicle in Liberia on the evening of July 14, 2015. She breathed her last at 1 am, July 15th. Hearts sank around the world to learn of this tragic loss – in Ireland where she was raised, in the US where she volunteered and made relationships, and in Liberia, where 110 students have grown in Faith and education under her leadership.
Though we sit in shock of Mary Ann’s sudden departure from us here on Earth, we are nothing short of confident that Mary Ann’s soul rests firmly in Heaven. And while stories of her life, her service, her infectious personality, would testify to the amazing woman of God she always was, there are no adjectives that could honor her better than her own words. Please continue reading below an article written by Mary Ann in spring of 2015 for her home parish, St. Mary of Dolours, Glasnevin Parish of Dublin, Ireland.
“My name is Mary Ann O’Driscoll. I am 24 and a Catholic missionary in Liberia.
I arrived in Liberia first in February 2013, I thought I would be here for three months and that would be enough to satisfy my call to missionary. I had every hope of travelling the world and even got accepted to a Master’s degree. My plan was set and I was looking forward to my time in Liberia so I could close that chapter and tick the ‘do volunteer work’ box on my life check-list. After the three months I left Liberia with a heavy heart, I felt so drawn to missionary life and to the country.
I couldn’t really explain it in words but Liberia made me feel so close to God. My first time on the mission was so difficult; it was a real struggle and challenge accepting my vocation and my limitations. We all want to change the world in some way, and it is true that we must start with ourselves. The hardest part for me was accepting that I probably would not be changing the world or the mission in the idealistic way I had imagined. I started out as a teacher and packed that in quickly, it took me a long time until I realised I had to stop trying to “fix it” and start allowing God to use me how He wished. It is a huge challenge surrendering everything to God. Your weaknesses, your strengths, your worries, your anxieties and your ambitions. There is incredible joy in giving it all to God even if it means you feel powerless. My stomach turned at first but I just allowed God to use me as His instrument and the rewards were plenty. I did not even realise what Liberia meant to me until I returned to Ireland and realised what a home Liberia had become. It was a home to me because it is the place I feel closest to God. I feel like I am best able to live how He intended when I am here. We do not have running water, washing machines…we only have electricity certain hours of the day. But, I would not have it any other way. It is not even a sacrifice. It is a comfort. It makes me focus on more important things and appreciate those luxuries when I have them. Life in Ireland is harder than life here. In Ireland it is difficult for me to focus on God, there are so many distractions and comforts around me that I neglect my call to live Christ-like.
I arrived back in Liberia for the 4th time January 26. I am here as Director of Liberia Mission. It is a big task, and I am extremely nervous. I’ve never been shy to express my fears. I am definitely scared. This is my first big job. Being scared is not a bad thing, allowing it to rule you is. I have been here a month and a half, it feels great to be home even if it is in a different capacity. I miss having the chance to spend time just chatting to the children. I loved when I could sit on the step and talk to them. Now that is my sacrifice; I have to accept my new calling and focus on being the best version of myself to glorify God. So far it has taken me quite a while to adjust to my new title, I am still learning the ropes. It will probably take a lot longer than I would like, I need to be patient. I am definitely starting from the bottom which is scary but I can only go up, right?
I am excited for what is to come and what I have yet to learn. This week I will complete my driving classes. That’s my first accomplishment. I look forward with anticipation to what we can achieve during my year here. I hope and pray my time here is fruitful and I can make a little difference.
In short…here is a brief run down of what is going on at LMI. We just got 3 new girls who came to us from a Priest who lives an hour away. Two girls are half-sisters; their mother was a teenager when she gave birth and their father ran away. The third girl is the daughter of a Catechist who died from a massive stroke and whose mother survives only by the grace of God and the generosity of the parish. We are so happy we can help these girls by welcoming them into our home!
We are currently trying to finish off our science lab. It is at a standstill now until we can find more funds. The science lab is under construction, it has four units each with four places so that we can have 16 students in the class at the one time. The hope is that we can add two additional units of two to make the places 20. The lab looks great, it was just painted by the students and the plumbing was done by the former director. Please God we find the money to keep it going!
Another project we are undertaking is building a 100ft well. One thing Liberia will teach you is that there is no hurry!!!! We have been waiting for the well to be built since the time of Moses! Every time I contact the company in charge of digging they tell me “tomorrow”. So, I’ve learned to take a deep breath and not to panic! So, for now our main work projects are the Science Lab and the well.
Thank you for taking the time to read my little update. Please feel free to email me firstname.lastname@example.org I would really love to hear from you!