Archived News Item

Adelaide sister reflects on mother’s legacy

On February 17 at 7pm, a large number of Sisters of Mercy and parishioners gathered at St Patrick’s Church, Mansfield Park (South Australia), to celebrate with Father Maurice Shinnick “the 100 days Mass” for the mother of Adelaide Sister of Mercy, Thu Do. Thu’s mother died in Vietnam on November 4, 2008. Here Thu reflects on her mother’s legacy.

Reflections on my mother: Maria Tran Thi Tinh (25.10.1926 to 4.11.2008)

By Thu Do

The news that my mother had had a stroke in Vietnam last November was a great shock to me and all my family. I had planned to stay with her next year and my dream was gone. So I reflect here on her life.

She had always been a good wife and mother, with four daughters and three sons. I am the eldest daughter. Her whole life was given to her family. As a young woman in the north of Vietnam, she was forced to escape the communist regime to find safety in the south. Arriving with nothing, she had to start all over again. She worked very hard selling goods in the market to support the growing family.

My parents believed very strongly that every bit of money should go to the education of the children so I was sent to boarding school with three of my siblings.

In 1975 the communists once again invaded the country and two years later my father died, leaving my mother and the seven children. At that time my older brother was imprisoned for working for the democracy in Vietnam. So my mother continued to work very hard, my three sisters were still quite young.

My mother saw no future for her family in Saigon. I escaped in 1986 and spent two years in a refugee camp in Indonesia before coming to Australia in 1988. After five years in prison, my brother was freed to leave for America in 1992. It was very hard and sad for my mother, her family now divided into three. She missed us so much and we missed her being unable to speak on the phone until the family bought a phone much later.

When I settled down in Australia, I spoke to my mother of my vocation and she encouraged me. It was nine years before I saw my mother again as a Mercy sister. Her care and concern for us all never changed, so news of her stroke was a great shock to all of us. My brother, his wife and older son and myself were able to return to Vietnam to visit her in hospital. After four days, the doctor advised us to take mum home and with the whole family around her, she died peacefully, content now to be with God. I cannot describe how much I love my mother and miss her. Her image is always with me.

From: Sister Bernadette Marks RSM (Local Communications Facilitator, Adelaide)