When the first sisters came to look at St. Francis Hospital, Okpara Inland in 1984, they could scarcely see it; the bush around it had grown so high. The hospital had, in fact, been lying idle for 6 years. Yet, with the eyes of faith they saw possibilities and with trust in Divine Providence, they accepted the challenge and moved in. Much has happened since then.
Many Sisters of Charity have continued to respond to the challenge and to reach out to the people around, offering health care, compassion, practical help and faith-filled hope. Below is an account of the celebration held to mark the sisters’ presence in Okpara Inland for the past 25 years.
When we came together on Saturday, 20th November, it was to thank God for the many blessings experienced by the sisters and the local community over the past 25 years. A joyful Eucharist was celebrated in the parish church. This was followed by refreshments at the convent. Part of the ceremony included a profile of the Religious Sisters of Charity and a remembrance with appreciation of all who have lived here. Each sister was named and a small candle presented for her. The joyful celebration was just closing when there was a heavy downpour – perfectly timed! We like to think of it as a ‘shower of blessings’ on our future life and ministries in the living spirit of Mary Aikenhead.
Our Reasons for Rejoicing:
- The Congregation of the Religious Sisters of Charity.
- The coming of the Sisters of Charity to Okpara Inland in 1985 and the welcome of the people.
- St Francis Hospital. Its staff and patients.
- The striving of the Hospital to meet the needs of the people, with expansion of services over the 25 years.
- The outreach to people in this community and other villages through primary Health Care and home based care.
- Health Promotion-responding to the challenges of HIV/AIDS.
- The Mary Aikenhead Centre, with its skill acquisition, tailoring and catering classes, meals on wheels, farm, women and youth development, children’s clubs and all programs to build up the lives of people.
- Home and community visitation and projects to benefit the local environment.
- The Religious and spiritual formation of catechists in the diocese of Warri.
- The formation of young women as future sisters of Charity to continue to reach out to people with the love and compassion of Christ.
“Thanks to our good God for all his mercies! and truly we have many to be grateful for collectively and individually”