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.