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Sr Ida – In whatever she did that would be her mission

Ida was born in September 1927, the fourth child of six to a modest, hardworking farming family in the beautiful north-east Trentino-Alto Adige region of Italy.

Despite her older sister already being a nun, Ida had no inclinations to follow her in to the religious life. It was not an epiphany moment of illuminating discovery or realization that eventually changed the young Ida’s mind, but a gradual awareness which came from the regular, unsolicited receipt of booklets and pamphlets from various religious orders around the country.

It was the missionary works of the Comboni Sisters that appealed to Ida and which subsequently led her to apply to the Order. On 15 March 1956, Ida was accepted as a postulant at the mother house of the Comboni Missionary Sisters in Verona.

Ida was eventually transferred to the Comboni Sisters’ London base in Chiswick, where she spent her novitiate and learnt English.

An unexpected illness prevented Ida from taking her vows which were postponed from September to the December of 1958. She returned to Italy for some moths and worked at the American School in Verona which was mostly frequented by the children of US military personnel stationed at the nearby base.

June 1959 saw Sr Ida return to Chiswick and devote her time in the Comboni Sisters’ Nursery School. At that time, the nursery school was the only such facility in the area where working parents could leave their children in a safe, caring and reliable environment. Ida took a course in the Montessori method of schooling. It was in the caring, guiding and educating of young children that Ida found her ‘mission’. She dedicated herself to the childrens’ well-being until the nursery’s closure in 1994.

As one door closed, another opened. The transferral of a nun back to Italy gave Sr Ida the opportunity to join the rota for prison visits. Apprehensive at first, the regular monthly visits proved a challenge and eventually a source of achievement.

With the passing of time and the dwindling number of nuns available, prison visits were stopped. At 91, Sr Ida is now quite frail, but her insuppressible charitable instincts still allow her to be active and carry out pastoral work in the locality, visiting and taking the Holy Eucharist to the elderly and housebound. Of her free time, she dedicates to the upkeep of the convent vegetable and flower garden.

Sr Ida primarily joined the Comboni Missionary Sisters because of her intention to become a missionary. She has no regrets that she did not go Africa, indeed there is no regret or any disappointment with any part of her religious life. From the moment she set foot inside the Comboni convent in Verona, she knew that that was her home and that wherever she was and whatever she did, that would be her mission.

Sr Ida responded wholeheartedly to the call of Christ and December 2018 saw her mark six decades of her religious life with the Comboni Missionary Sisters; sixty years of being consecrated to God and a life of unconditional obedience, charity and service both to her religious community and the local secular community. She has witnessed many happenings and changes not only within her religious community, but also in the world in general. A lesser person might have become disheartened, questioned and perhaps given up all together, but Sr Ida’s outlook and reasoning has remained resolute and immutable. No mean feat. Her philosophy is simple; it has always been not to question but instead try to understand and let God work through her as an instrument to do good.

This 91 year old nun, possessed of calm, wise, philosophical characteristics still manages to find an alternative, hopeful perspective on even the most seemingly desperate, incomprehensible situations.

The gemstone associated with a sixtieth anniversary is the diamond (Gr: adamas – unconquerable); its qualities of strength, clarity and transparent brilliance makes it a much prized object. It takes a particular, indeed, a special individual to totally, wholeheartedly and selflessly consecrate oneself to God. Sr Ida is one such diamond individual.

©      Nelly Preston