17 September 2020, The Tablet

‘I know there are no hopeless cases’

Women Religious today

‘I know there are no hopeless cases’


In the third in our series that explores the richness and diversity of the paths taken by women Religious, Sr Simone Herrmann, a Medical Mission Sister, discusses her work as a doctor specialising in care for patients who are homeless and suffering from addiction or mental health issues

I’m a registrar in the A&E department of a big inner-city hospital in London. The patients don’t know I’m a nun: it’s of no importance when I treat them. Only rarely does it come in useful. For example, once, when I couldn’t get a priest for a dying patient, I offered to say a prayer with him and he was very happy. But I’d never suggest it of my own accord. Absolutely not! I would consider that intrusive.

I grew up in a Catholic family in the Black Forest. I didn’t enjoy going to church but from the age of nine I was a Catholic Girl Guide and I loved that. I stayed involved during university and in 1996, shortly after the genocide, I went to Rwanda to visit Guide groups in refugee camps.

I had just started studying medicine. We’d been learning about fixing bones and bio-chemicals but not who made the bone or how you can be healed when there is no medical healing. In Rwanda I met women who had experienced so much suffering – lost half their families – but were trying to build up their country again. “How do you have the strength?” I asked one. “It’s God who saved me,” she said.

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