An Irish nun celebrates her 109th birthday at a Tenafly convent in New Jersey on today, Saturday – and prays to God to take her in her sleep.
The website NorthJersey.com reports that Sister Mary Victor Waters was born on Sept. 14, 1904, in Corr na Móna, County Galway.
Sister Mary Victor Waters lived through the Easter Rising, Irish independence and world wars
The report says that Sister Victor asks the Lord to take her in her sleep during her bedtime prayers,
It says: “If this morning is like all others, Sister Victor will be ‘disappointed’ that the Lord did not grant her request. Then she’ll get on with life: a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast, noontime dinner, prayer and meditation — and in honor of her birthday, visits from family and the mayor of Tenafly.”
The report says that Sister Victor isn’t the oldest New Jersey resident but since her last birthday she has claimed the title of the world’s second-oldest person born in Ireland according to Peter Ryan, deputy consul general for economic and public affairs at Ireland’s New York office.
Ireland’s President Michael D Higgins wrote to Sister Victor this week and offered his congratulations as well as sending a commemorative coin.
Her congratulatory collection also includes greetings from Governor Christie, who is Irish on his father’s side.
Sister Mary Victor Waters was baptized Bridget Waters and immigrated to the United States in 1925 to work as a governess in Chicago, where two of her brothers lived.
The website says she joined the Missionary Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception in 1928 and professed her first vows on April 20, 1931.
Her parents had mixed views over her vocation with her father, a farmer, unimpressed and her mother thrilled.
Sister Victor said of her mother: “She died a happy death that she had a daughter in the convent.”
Sister Victor served in Brooklyn and in Massachusetts, Illinois and Pennsylvania, among other places as she taught fourth and fifth grades, she cooked, and during World War II, she was an assistant mistress in a novitiate in Rome.
During her time in Ireland she witnessed the war of independence, the civil war and the advent of the Republic.
She moved to the order’s orange-brick retirement home on Knickerbocker Road in Tenafly 12 years ago and now lives in a community of 48 nuns. Sister Victor and 26 others are in assisted living.
The report says she keeps photos of relatives and of Pope Francis in a spartan room, which has a hospital bed and beige walls. Above her pillow is the certificate from Pope John Paul II marking the 50th anniversary of her religious profession.
The report adds she takes no medicine, gets around in a wheelchair and wears two hearing aids.
The website says that more than 100 years after learning to crochet using hairpins, she gave up that craft a few months ago. “I have no sight in one eye,” she said by way of explanation, “but the other eye is fine.”
Sister Angela Power, 83, helps Sister Victor with her correspondence. She said: “It’s a wonder how she still communicates with the sisters, even with her deafness. Sister Victor attends prayers and Mass every day.
Asked about her birthday, Sister Victor allowed that she could do without the fuss.
She said: “I’d be just as pleased if they forgot about my birthday.”
Asked why she has lived so long, Sister Victor said: “I have to take what comes. I’m happy with what the Lord sends me.”
Sister Beatrice Sobolewski, 68, has her own theories and said: “She was a hard worker. She was out there in the trenches. She’s a wonderful inspiration for all of us because she is so upbeat.”
Asked if she was afraid to die, Sister Victor responded: “Why should I be? We all have to die. You’ll have to die.”
No Irish Need Apply? Not anymore