On the evening and night of 9th April 2010, there was a storm and torrential rain in Okpara. However, the morning of 10th dawned bright and dry and soon everywhere was fresh and even a little cool! The canopies were soon set up for the outdoor celebration of Sr. Patricia Somer’s Golden Jubilee. Decorations were put in place and all looked very well.
Mass was celebrated by Fr. Richard Wall SMA, whom Patricia has known for over 40 years – going back to 1969 in Uromi. He was assisted by Fr. Peter McCawille SMA. During the day Fr. Vincent Owoaka, Parish Priest and Fr. Jude Igho, the Cathedral Administrator, Warri also called to express their congratulations.
The liturgy was joyful, the music led by the sisters, postulants and aspirants with all present joining in as much as possible. The readings conveyed the Easter atmosphere; the response to prayers of the faithful were taken from the ‘Sayings of Mary Aikenhead’, Patricia renewed her vows and the Mass concluded with singing, dancing and drumming to the Caritas Song.
The guests included Sr. Imelda O’Brien, Regional Leader and sisters from many of the communities in Nigeria. The Board members and staff of St. Francis’ Hospital, where Sr. Patricia is Administrator, were present in numbers, as were people from the parish, the Catholic Women’s organisation, friends and well wishers. The children and young people from the Mary Aikenhead Centre provided entertainment and musical tributes!
The party followed immediately after the Mass. There was delicious food for everyone, without a ‘grain of rice’ spilled, as remarked by the MC! The cake was made by Sr. Freda and cut by Patricia, surrounded by the Okpara community and Sr. Imelda. There was plenty of singing and dancing and gifts were presented.
The homily during Mass and the speeches traced a little of Sr. Patricia’s life as a Sister of Charity. The journey began in Dublin with her parents and her two sisters – Carmel, who now lives in Los Angeles and is also an RSC, and Veronica, married and living in Dublin. The story of her vocation and her ministries were recalled. She spent many years in health care in St. Vincent’s Hospital in Dublin; she was Novice Director; she was on the Irish Provincial Leadership Team; she was chaplain at Wheatfield prison and she has spent three periods of ministry in Nigeria. One of Patricia’s themes for the day was the offertory hymn: ‘How can I repay the Lord, for his goodness to me?’
On her part, Patricia thanked the priests, Sr. Imelda, her community and all present, who had contributed to the preparation and celebration of this lovely occasion. The event drew to a close. The sisters from Bomadi, Ozoro and Port Harcourt and other guests who had travelled, set out on the return journey, all in a spirit of joy and thankfulness to God. Patricia gave the last word to Mary Aikenhead:
‘We must pray for each other and keep praising the eternal with cheerful hearts’