Sr Susan has been asked to obtain a visa for another religious sister, whose father, in Ireland, is dying. On Saturday afternoons in Canberra, in 1976, nothing is open. Least of all the Irish embassy.
In this interview, she reflects on some of what she values and how that emerged in her life.
We catch sight of the importance of living off your wits, being willing to get involved, and holding a belief that there is always a way. We hear about the importance of communion – a kind of unity – with people with whom you have a shared past, a common history.
She believes in the importance of public education and the importance of Gonski funding in Australia, to ensure all children receive an adequately resourced education.
Sr Susan attributes much of her strong-mindedness to her parents. Recognising the place of nature, she sees much of what has shaped her as being about nurture. It’s a reminder for parents – be proud of your children, regardless of their accomplishments. Give them the message that they will always be loved and accepted by you, regardless of their mistakes. As Sr Susan says, “that gives a person enormous strength.”
In her childhood home, she describes having “what counted.” Strong relationships between people who wanted to do the right thing, despite not being perfect. Reflecting on it evoked enormous gratitude towards her parents. Gratitude is a warm and sustaining feeling, one that everyone deserves. “I’d love that whatever I do in the world could be an occasion of someone being grateful, in the sense that they’ve been given something by me that they otherwise wouldn’t have had. That would be a lovely thing.”