Sr Francis Kieran Monahan recently celebrated her 80th birthday, with the ex-Roma girls at the Secondary School in Lusaka. Here Sr Kieran recounts what the day meant to her:
“To arrive at 80 years of age is like a dream. But calendars do not lie! So reality takes over. It is true. The octogenarian milestone has been reached, and with it the celebrations take over. The ex-Roma girls were determined to make a big thing of it. The date for the celebrations was fixed for January 2nd, 2012 – it being a public holiday. The planning, budgeting and marketing went on for weeks and the organising Committee did a great job.
To begin with, I was kept in the dark and was only consulted on some issues. The constant refrain was ‘Sr. Kieran, everything is meant to be a surprise for you’. And with that I had to be content. The Liturgy was carefully planned with the English Choir from the local Church of the Assumption providing the music which was both inspirational and uplifting with the Congregation actively participating. His Eminence, Cardinal Mazombwe was the main celebrant and the local clergy his assistants. By a strange coincidence we discovered that His Eminence was also 80 years of age so we included him in the celebrations. The past pupils were the readers and responsible for the offertory procession and bidding prayers. His Eminence gave the homily and spoke on Fidelity which was well received and appreciated.
After mass we adjourned to the Dining Room for lunch and entertainment. The sight that met our eyes would have to be seen to be believed. The room was completely transformed. The ordinary furniture had been removed and replaced by hotel furniture, chairs had been covered with white cloths and colourful ribbons and bows. The whole place looked festive and exciting. As the Cardinal could not stay for lunch he was presented with flowers, a large birthday cake and a gift. He was very moved.
The Committee had brought their own Chef and the food was delicious, plenty of variety and plenty of it. I was just spellbound and lost. The ‘surprise’ was more than I had envisaged or dreamt about. The MC did a remarkable job throughout with music and banter, giving a lively encounter for the afternoon. The gifts and cards were numerous and lovely. So my prayer at the end of the day was ‘How can I repay the Lord for His goodness to me’. My forty years in Africa have been well worthwhile.”