Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady

Sister Martha Ann Abshire

I started life as a poor Cajun girl in Crowley, Louisiana, but my life in the Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady has taken me around the world and allowed me to serve in more meaningful and fulfilling ways than I ever imagined.

I joined the Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady in 1967. I made my first vows three years later, and professed my final vows when I was 24. By then I also had graduated from Our Lady of the Lake Nursing School and was working as a Registered Nurse at Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center in Baton Rouge, then Our Lady of Lourdes in Lafayette.

Although a back ailment and surgery prematurely ended my nursing career, there were many other ways I would find to serve. I created the social services department at Our Lady of Lourdes, something that today is an essential part of the healthcare we provide throughout the Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Health System.

I enrolled at the University of Notre Dame and graduated in 1981 with a master’s degree in administration with a focus on not-for-profit organizations.

I returned to Our Lady of the Lake in May 1982 and started the Risk Management Program, and later became assistant administrator at Our Lady of Lourdes in 1985.

In 1988, I teamed with Sister Althea Jonis and founded a Franciscan Mission in Haiti, which provided medical care to the poor. I have spent six years supporting the mission and working in the region as a primary caregiver.

I lived in Paris from 1994 to 1998 where I served on the General Council. I assisted the General Superior of the Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady, which gives leadership to the worldwide activities of the Order.

In 2000, I returned to service in Louisiana where I continue to live and work as the liaison to our mission in Haiti.

My life as a Sister has taken me to 15 countries, I’ve been to Rome four times and I’ve visited Assisi in Italy three times. I’ve been so very blessed.

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