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Answering God's call shocked even me says former reporter

Staff Reporter newsdesk@irishnews.com

FORMER high-profile BBC journalist Martina Purdy has told how even she was shocked by her decision to leave her career in television to become a trainee nun.

The former political broadcaster told the Little Way Novena at St Eugene's Cathedral in Derry that many politicians were surprised by the move and one of her relatives even asked her if she was drunk when she told him.

Ms Purdy told the congregation on Monday that she feels as though she is "in a makeover show in reverse" as she appeared donned in the brown garb of the Adoration Sisters, without make-up or her blonde highlighted hair.

She also described her new life as a novice nun, saying she helps to "bake the bread", cook, clean and pray.

"Those who know me will know that I am not one for silence," she said.

"I am a bit of a chatterbox, so when I came to the congregation seeking to join them, and they told me they ate in silence and their work was in silence, I kind of thought they were joking.

"Only the Lord could call a chatterbox to a life of silence, but He does love irony."

Ms Purdy said some politicians were stunned by her decision to join a religious order.

"When I phoned a number of politicians to tell them, I have to say a few were uncharacteristically quiet and I was going, 'Hello, hello, are you there?' One thought I was joking.

"I called one of my relatives to say I was quitting the BBC to become a nun and he said, 'Are you drunk?'

"In fairness I was drunk on the Holy Spirit but most people were very supportive - very loving in fact. Someone who doesn't know me very well asked what I was running away from."

Ms Purdy said that, as a child, she was not drawn to the spiritual life and was focused on becoming a journalist.

But she said after being shocked at the extreme poverty she witnessed while on holiday in Peru eight years ago, she went on a re-treat and began to think of changing her life.

"I knew it was my choice. I could stay at the BBC, have a good life, or I could go and give my life to God and so I said, 'Yes Lord, I am in'.

"If you had told me at the end of that retreat I would be living on the Falls Road two doors down from the Sinn Féin office where I used to visit as a reporter, I would have laughed."

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