Sr. Justina Osumune writes an account of a very special celebration for Mary Aikenhead’s birthday in Port Harcourt, Nigeria:
May Our Lord bless the work and the beloved work women, Amen… (saying of Mary Aikenhead). These were the prayers of the children of Compassion Centre for Physically Challenged Children, Nkpogu, Port Harcourt, Nigeria, as they celebrated on 19th January, 2016 the birthday of Mary Aikenhead, for the sisters who night and day work tirelessly in taking care of them.
The celebration commenced the previous day, Monday, 18th January, 2016 with the children watching the DVDs of the 200th anniversary of the Congregation. They watched with great enthusiasm and were so delighted when they could see themselves and people they know in the DVDs, especially the Nigerian Region’s DVD.
The D–day was indeed remarkable. The hall was well decorated with a Centre Piece for Venerable Mary Aikenhead, the cake stand and the cake. The children were fully in-charge of the day. They invited lots of guests – Priests, Sisters and Friends of the Centre. These made the celebration colorful. Two of the children, Miss Kelechi Nnotubam and Master Vincent Nwokorie were introduced as Masters of Ceremony (MC), they were wonderful and coordinated the activities so well.
The invited guests were called and ushered to their seats at the front. The celebration started at 4:15pm with an opening ritual by the children. This consisted of a reading about Mary Aikenhead taken by Miss Chidimma Muojekwu, then the song Ubi Caritas followed by eight ‘Sayings’ of Mary Aikenhead by eight children, each carrying also, the flag color of the countries where our Sisters are found. After these, the opening prayer was said by Miss Esther Etim.
The ceremony was filled with lots of activities and entertainment by the children. They heartily welcomed all with a song after which Sr. Miriam Hennesey, RSC, the Local Leader of Sancta Maria Community, Port Harcourt, gave the opening speech on the life of Mary Aikenhead. There were songs presentations, miming, and dancing by the children. Then the Mary Aikenhead Birthday cake was unveiled by four children, the cake looked so beautiful, decorated with the crest of the Congregation, various persons were called for the Cutting of the Cake. A toast was also given for Mary Aikenhead, the Congregation she founded, and the Sisters, wishing them more blessings as they give to the poor for free what the rich can buy money, this was led by a member of staff, Mrs. Jessica Onuoha.
To end the ceremony, Master Innocent Nwokorie gave a vote of thanks on behalf of all the children in the Centre to all who honored their invitation saying that it a sign of their love for them. He also thanked the Sisters and staff working in the Centre for giving them the opportunity to celebrate. After which Fr. Stephenson was called upon to give the closing prayer at about 5:50pm.
The children were indeed filled with great joy and excitement and danced on till they could stand no more. It was indeed a memorable day for them and they kept on praying for God to bless the work and the beloved work women. Amen.