Joy and gratitude, colour, song and dance marked the celebration of the Golden Jubilee of the Nigerian Region on Saturday 21st May 2011. The celebration was held at the Redemptorist Parish, Satellite Town, Lagos. One of our first guests to arrive was Mr Paddy Fay, Irish Ambassador to Nigeria who, not only joined us for the liturgy but stayed with us throughout the day.
The day began with a very vibrant Eucharistic Celebration. Cardinal Okogie, the main celebrant, was joined by Bishop Hyacinth Egbebo of Bomadi Apostolic Vicariate and some priests from areas in which we serve. In his homily, the Cardinal traced the history and spirit of the Congregation through Mary Aikenhead, to the arrival of the first Sisters in Nigeria in 1961 and up to the present day.
The early beginnings in Pacelli School for the Blind and in Uromi were very much remembered with gratitude. Some past and present pupils of Pacelli School were present for the occasion. All of those, both living and dead, who had ministered in the Region were remembered in prayer. Our Congregational Leader, Sr. Mary Christian, was present as well as representatives from the different Provinces and Regions, many of whom had ministered in the Nigerian Region over the years. Sr. Mathilde Harnischfeger, an Australian Sister of Charity, who had served in the Region also came for the occasion. At the end of the Mass there was the usual thanksgiving procession of all the Sisters including the Novices and Postulants joined by many well-wishers and friends from the different areas where we work. The bond of union was palpable and the joy of the people was overflowing.
After the Mass everybody (literally hundred) partook in a meal graciously prepared by the Catholic Women’s Organization from the Parish. Their help, so selflessly given, was greatly appreciated. Canopies were set up in the Church grounds for the occasion and after the meal there were different dance troupes to provide entertainment.
All the Sisters were hosted by the Lagos communities who excelled in hospitality-as always! Next day, being Sunday, we had a special Mass celebrated by the outgoing Jesuit Provincial, Fr. George Quickley, which again added to the celebration. Each community was given a number of copies of a special book ‘The History of the Congregation in Nigeria’, compiled by Sr. Anne Lally, as well as some Calendars-all prepared specially for the celebration of the Jubilee. Many of our sisters throughout the Congregation sent prayers and good wishes for the occasion – thank you. To Sr. Imelda and her Team and all who have worked so tirelessly for weeks, even months, to make all this happen we say a very big “thank you”. It was a truly fitting celebration of 50 years. All we have to say is, “Thank you, Lord, thank you, Lord”.