Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of February 26, 2007
Nursing sister goes to Peru to serve
Vermilion native takes a leap of faith
- WCR photo by Bill Glen
"Delivering a baby is a precious moment."
- Sr. Gloria Butler
By BILL GLEN
WCR Staff Writer
Acard from her mother told Sister Gloria Butler everything would be fine.
Sitting in her comfortable Bonnie Doon duplex recently, Butler's soft blue eyes filled with tears as she described her mom's response when she told her she was moving to an arid and hilly area of Peru to help the poor.
It was as much about what her mother wrote, as it was how the card was written.
"She went to the library to learn all she could about Peru. The card was wishing me well, and it was written in Spanish," said Butler, 55, who will join three other members of the Sisters of Charity of Our Lady of Evron in a Peru mission in March.
"My mom made the effort to learn how to say different things. That's pretty positive. It meant a lot. I will take that memory wherever I go."
It will be a leap of faith for the Vermilion native and registered nurse, as she knows little of what exactly her tasks will be. And after a lengthy period of discernment, she has put her destiny in God's hands.
Biggest need in Peru
"A study was done to open a mission where there was the biggest need and which country was easy to get into. The choice was Peru. Four sisters went. Two sisters were from Ireland, one from France and one Canadian," Butler said.
"The French sister had to return to France, so I put my name in. After a time of discernment and working with our leadership team, everything looked positive."
Butler grew up on a farm near Vermilion. She enjoyed the rural life with her parents, sister and brother. She was a happy child with a caring heart. When she was seven years old, Butler knew she wanted to become a nurse.
She was introduced to religious life while in Vermilion where the Sisters of Evron were teachers. She later met a member of the Daughters of Jesus while in nursing training at the Edmonton General, which was run by the Grey Nuns. Post-graduate work took her to Camrose where she met the Sisters of Providence (Kingston).
By the age of 23, she understood that the charisms of various religious orders were gifts from God to the Church. She wanted to know if God was indeed calling her to religious life.
"I thought I might be, but I was hearing more from other people in the secular area. I needed to see because with a calling, I felt I had better peace of mind. And if God wasn't calling me, I could go ahead."
Butler contacted several sisters and priests to accompany her in her time of discernment. Doing so helped to keep the spiritual question open, she said.
After a year working in the Camrose hospital, she decided to live with the Sisters of Evron in Vegreville. After some six months, she began her novitiate.
"Perhaps if I had not joined the sisters, I would have gone to work in a Third World country. Working with others, you can accomplish more when you are working together for the same thing. That's what happened by joining the order."
During her career, Butler worked in several community hospitals, mainly as a maternity nurse. Stops included Vegreville, Bonnyville and Trochu as well as the Edmonton General and Charles Camsell hospitals.
"Delivering a baby is a precious moment. You can help mothers to enter into the process and help it unfold, instead of fighting it. As a nurse, my role was to work with them," she said.
For 10 years, Butler was part of her order's leadership team for the Canadian province.
Until two years ago, she worked with Catholic Social Services for 10 years, helping handicapped young adults in a CSS residential program.
But for the last two years, she has concentrated her nursing on helping aging members of her local community.
The Peruvian mission sits on the outskirts of Lima. Butler said acts of terrorism forced many people to flee into the neighbouring hills where nobody was prepared to accept them.
Two of their sisters live in a rented house and two others live in a house the congregation built. These two communities are at different ends of the diocese.
"It is a difficult situation. I want to help them to see what their needs are and begin to advocate for them with the other sisters who are already serving there."
Butler is going to Peru with no set agenda. She will arrive with an open mind to be sensitive to the ways and needs of the people she will serve. Doing so heightens the anticipation, she said.
"Every so often, change is good. I feel it is time to do something different," Butler said.
"In a lot of the area, there is no electricity. People live in cardboard houses or under plastic coverings. I am going indefinitely. I have a lot to learn as well as some things to give."