The following article gives an account of the celebrations that took place in Caritas Convent School, Kabwe to celebrate the 153rd anniversary of the death of Mary Aikenhead.
WELCOME REMARKS BY SR WINFRIDAH CHILESHE AT THE BEGINNING OF MASS
“On behalf of the Headmistress, the members of staff, the auxiliary workers and the pupils of Caritas Convent School and indeed on my own behalf I wish to welcome you all to the feast of our Foundress, an Irish woman named Mary.
Mary Aikenhead died on 22nd July in 1858, a day that is well recognized in the Catholic Church, as it is the feast of Mary Magdalene. It is a great day for us as we are grateful for God’s gift of this woman to us. Mary was a person who cherished and respected the lives of the less privileged in society. She was initially inspired by the Homily of a priest which was based on the Rich man and Lazarus. She was greatly challenged by the priest’s concluding remarks; “There are so many Lazaruses around. Who will lend a helping hand?” From that day, a journey was begun by a young lady of 21 which eventually spread to the various parts of the world. Today marks 153 years since the death of our Foundress, but who would have thought that in Zambia, and in particular, Kabwe, a school would gather annually to celebrate such a life? This indeed is a cause for gratitude as Mary Aikenhead herself would say; “We have so much to be thankful for both collectively and individually.”
Collectively, we are grateful to God for the fact that 12 individuals from Lusaka and Kabwe who have been under instructions for a year will, during this Mass, take their pledges. They desire to share in the Charism of Mary Aikenhead and to work in collaboration with the Sisters of Charity. Charism as we know is a gift of the spirit given to particular individuals in the Church for a specific purpose and period of time. They will become Associates of Mary Aikenhead and not associates of the Sisters of Charity simply because their model is Mary who lived her life to the full.
With these few remarks, I wish to welcome you once again and to invite you to freely participate in the celebration of the Mass. Thank you.”
The priest gave a very inspiring homily in which he stressed Mary Aikenhead’s ability to work with the poor within their given situations. He noted that she was brave to initiate home visitation at the time when it was uncommon for nuns to do so. He challenged all present particularly the associates, like Mary to be at the service of the people. It was also beautiful and striking to hear him constantly refer to Mary Aikenhead as “the holy woman of God.” With those encouraging words, at the place where we say “Lord I am not worthy to receive you……,” the associates one by one took the pledge; see some of the photographs below:
From left to right Mrs Kasoma, Mr Sitali, and Mr Engaenga standing by their side are Srs Madeleine Kelly, Winfridah Chileshe and Margaret Mary. Holding the microphone is Mr Mwela, a devoted parishioner, while in the background, Br Katonga, a Sacred Heart and a member of staff, who was Master of ceremony.
To the left is Mrs Maureen Miles, one of the old associates, saying a few words at the end of Mass, to the newly received Associates.
Mrs Miles briefly spoke about how she considered herself “a child born from charity” in that someone cared and educated her. She believes that embracing the Charism of Mary Aikenhead tapped into her deep desires that she already had of wanting to be of service to the less privileged. Thereafter, she challenged them not look so much to the group but at how they could be of service as individuals.
SPEECH AT THE END OF MASS FROM THE HEAD TEACHER, MRS BEATRICE MUSOLE WHO IS THE FIRST ASSOCIATE OF MARY AIKENHEAD
On behalf of Caritas Community and indeed on my own behalf, I would like to recognize Fr Chanda who is the Parish Priest of the Sacred Heart and for his inspiring Homily. I would like to acknowledge the presence of the Regional Superior of the Religious Sisters of Charity, Sr Margaret Mary, all the Religious Sisters of Charity, the Associates of Mother Mary Aikenhead, the parishioners, all invited guests from Lusaka and the various Schools and may I simply say:
My dear brothers and sisters – Thank you for having accepted the invitation and taken off some time from your busy programmes to come and celebrate with us on this very important day.
We really feel honoured as a school for being an offspring of the life, and work of the Religious Sisters of Charity through their Foundress Mother Mary Aikenhead. Her spirit is and will continue to live in our lives because of the many blessings we have received.
It is for this reason that we felt we could extend our blessings and joy by inviting you to this celebration. May I end by sharing a few sayings of MMA which we have experienced and are quite a challenge in this changing world.
“Give to the poor what the rich can get with money.” Such a service requires a lot of sacrifice and conviction in a world where people tend to be materialistic and are unwilling to share what they have. It is indeed such self-giving that the girls at Caritas deeply appreciate as they too are direct beneficiaries. The quality of education they receive cannot be equated to money. In more ways than one, the education received prepares the girls to take up responsible roles as it does not merely emphasize the intellectual aspect but also focuses on the social, moral, material, and spiritual aspect of the human person. Their service in society is a great contribution to Mary Aikenhead’s dream of service of the poor.
The second saying is, “I can do all things in Him who strengthens me.” To be able to give this service is not an easy task, but with God nothing is impossible. We believe that each and every one of us has that potential to share and to be something of Charity in our own small way and in different ways to one another. We wish you a good time for the rest of the day and we ask that the Lord may grant you protection as you travel back home.
Thank you very much.
The photos show a group of Associates with Sr Margaret Mary and Sr Madeleine Kelly interacting after Mass
After Mass, there was a quiz based on the life of Mary Aikenhead, followed by entertainment and thereafter food was served. Everyone was delighted with the day.
Prior to this day, the sisters had spoken to the School on the life history of Mary Aikenhead, the Sisters of Charity and the works they do. They had asked Miss Sampa an ex-Caritas student now a teacher, to speak on the life of Mary Aikenhead. She spoke beautifully and highlighting sayings of Mary Aikenhead that she valued. Sr Marian Bell came from Ndola and spoke about the Prayer companion Ministry. She stressed the importance of nurturing the soul. Sr Dominca Kabale, a young professed, gave her vocation story. It was a very good session and pupils’ participation was great. Blessed be God forever. Amen!!!!!