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Sister finds calling for those in need at hospital

Sister Foley, 37, is the youngest member of St. Anthony’s pastoral care department.

Chris Zuppa/tbt*

Sister Foley, 37, is the youngest member of St. Anthony’s pastoral care department.

Like most people, Margaret Foley felt forever changed by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

She was living in Indiana, states away from the destruction, but her heart broke for the victims and their families.

The tragedy encouraged her to re-evaluate her life and delve deeper in her faith. "I went to church and the faith of the people strengthened me," she said.

She knew she was ready to follow God.

The next year, Foley quit her corporate health care job and started missionary work for Catholic Volunteers in Florida, helping infirm sisters. In 2004, she entered the Franciscan Sisters of Allegany to become a nun.

Now 37, Sister Foley ministers to patients and their families at St. Anthony's Hospital in St. Petersburg. She responds to patients' spiritual needs, gives communion and offers a kind hand to the hospital's 1,450 employees. In the chapel, she participates in interfaith memorial services and the daily Mass.

For this soft-spoken Massachusetts native who grew up Lake Worth, the role is a privilege and her passion. She sees herself an "instrument" for God, who ultimately is in control.

A familiar face in the emergency, medical-surgical/telemetry and progressive care units, she is the youngest member of the hospital's pastoral care department. Of the 300 nuns in the Franciscan Sisters of Allegany worldwide, only a few are in their 30s.

Don't look for Sister Margaret wearing a wimple or speaking Latin. She wears simple clothing and a name tag.

People ''know by my actions that I'm a nun," she said.

Sister Foley finds dealing with the sick and dying more rewarding than depressing. Joy and suffering are part of everyday life, she said. She has faith in God as a constant companion.

On Good Friday, she will help lead the 14 Stations of the Cross depicting Jesus' final hours. She'll begin the day with prayer, followed by a noon Mass and a 3 p.m. reading of the stations. She'll meditate on Christ's suffering and death, then help those in the hospital who need it the most.

Sister finds calling for those in need at hospital 04/21/11 [Last modified: Thursday, April 21, 2011 6:11pm]
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