Sisters Martin and Teresa
Our names are Sister Teresa and Sister Martin Russell. We are twins, aged 93 years (this April), who became Dominican Sisters in 1942.
Why we chose to become Dominican Sisters is a rather long story. We were born in Johannesburg, South Africa of Irish parents in 1918. Our Dad was a Catholic, while our Mother became a convert when we were 12 years old. We led a very happy family life with our parents and one younger sister, Nell. We were outgoing girls and enjoyed swimming and cycling.
Fortunately we had our Catholic education at the Dominican Day Schools for boys and girls in La Rochelle and then Germiston. We got to know and love the sisters who inspired us to follow their example of religious teachers. After matriculation we twins joined the National Bank and worked as bank clerks for four years. During this time we became active members of the Cathedral Parish in Johannesburg. We enjoyed the social life of the Parish and the Bank. We made many good friends among the men and women. Once a year we attended the retreat for young ladies at the Ursuline Convent in Krugersdorp. During such days our wish to become religious sisters became stronger. We had always kept up contact with the Dominican Sisters as well as other religious sisters. Though our parents were no longer young, they generously agreed that we try our vocations as Religious in the Convent. Thus in 1941 we twins were admitted to the Dominican Novitiate in Newcastle, Natal to try our vocations. Thank God we have never looked back. To our great joy, our young sister, Nell also became a sister in the Holy Rosary Congregation. With pride then our dear old Dad used to recite the poem: ‘I’m the Daddy of Three Nuns’!
What gives us Joy and Hope? We answer by saying how very grateful we are to the Lord for the many worthwhile years we spent in teaching in our various Convent Schools.
Now that we have retired to Marian House, we appreciate the regular Conventional life and the loving spirit of the community. We hope and pray that more young women will join us as Dominican Sisters to spread the Gospel of the Lord.
After we twins had made Final Profession and were trained as teachers we were assigned to different convent schools. We knew we would be separated, and it is only now in our retirement years that we are living together again. During our separated years there were many humorous incidents connected with mistaken identity on the part of pupils, parents etc. We relate one such occasion that caused much amusement. I, Sister Teresa was in charge at St Dominics Boksburg Convent while my twin Sister Martin was in charge at the nearby Benoni Convent now known as St Columbas School Benoni One day a Portuguese man came with his daughter to me in St. Dominics Boksburg wanting to put the girl into Standard 4 class but we had no vacancy, so I suggested that he should apply to Benoni Convent. To help him I phoned Sister Martin and found out from her that there was a vacancy at Benoni convent school. So the delighted man and child drove off at once to enrol her. When they saw my twin they thought it was me. He said: “But this is most kind of you Sr. Teresa to come here to meet me.” He could not believe that it was my twin, Sr Martin. After enrolling the pupil he drove back to Boksburg to confirm that we were twins and persisted that I be called to prove this. We have pleasure in recalling similar incidents!Sisters Martin and Teresa