Celebrating 210 Years of Religious Life

L-R Srs. Rosalia, Fidelma, Rose Mary and Ann

On Saturday 19th May 2007, all roads seemed to lead to Mount Oliver Dundalk where families, friends and Franciscan Sisters gathered to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Sr. Rosalia Keefe and the Golden Jubilees of Srs. Ann Keatley, Fidelma Mahon and Rose Mary Needham.   Our Sisters in Kenya were also in festive mood as the Golden Jubilee of Sr. Teresa Rafferty was celebrated over the week-end with the usual African gusto.

Here in Ireland, despite being the month of May, the sun shone brightly in Ireland - an achievement in itself!  The celebrations began with a truly joyful liturgy that set the tone of the day.  We congratulate our Jubilarians on their faithful living of their religious missionary lives over so many years.

A little about the Jubilarians:
Sr Rosalia Keefe - who celebrated her Diamond Jubilee
Sr. Rosalia is from Kilcock, Co. Kildare, Ireland.  Having trained as a Midwife, she went to Uganda in 1950 and their she ministered in various hospitals and spent many years in St Francis Leprosarium both as a Nurse and as Administrator.  Rosalia set up the first laboratory at our Leprosarium in Buluba, which proved to be of great benefit to the residents of Buluba.  A woman of peace and gentleness, Rosalia spent several years in leadership positions in our Congregation.  She was Regional Superior in Uganda in the 70's during the difficult days of the Idi Amin regime and then spent a term on the General Council of the Congregation.  Presently Rosalia is very much involved with hospitality and is always very welcoming and caring towards all our sisters and visitors who come to our convent in Sandymount in Dublin.

Sr Ann Keatley - Golden Jubilarian
Sr. Ann is from Birkenbead in England.  Ann is a teacher and went to Uganda in 1960.  She spent many years teaching at St. Mary's Secondary School, Namagunga, where her past pupils will remember her as ‘Sr. Aquinas’.  Ann then generously gave time to ‘Promotion Work’, which is so necessary to missionary work.  With her customary enthusiasm, Ann also became involved in the welfare of the environment and spent some time in the USA studying Ecology.  Ann now ministers in Zimbabwe where she shares her love for nature with local groups.

Guests enjoying the celebration
Guests enjoying the celebration
Sr.  Fidelma Mahon - Golden Jubilarian
From Dublin, Ireland, Sr. Fidelma is a much travelled dynamic woman who began her missionary life with teacher training in the 50's.   Fidelma was appointed to East Africa in 1962 and taught in several schools in Uganda and Kenya.  Fidelma spent a term in Ireland as Editor of our Missionary Magazine “Daystar”.  Her next stop was Sudan where she was administered and was actively involved on the ground in a Refugee Programme.  From there the next stop was Malawi where she was involved with the Jesuit Refugee Programme.  Fidelma then returned to Ireland to serve on the Congregational Leadership Team in the 1990’s.  Now back in Africa, Fidelma ministers in Zimbabwe caring for displaced families, widows and orphans.
Sr. Rose Mary Needham Golden Jubilarian
Sr. Rose Mary is from Co. Mayo, Ireland.  She first went to Uganda in 1960 where she worked in several hospitals and Leprosaria.  Following Independence in Uganda Rose Mary was seconded to the Department of Education to help them get organised during their transition period. She was secretary to the committee in preparation for Pope Paul VI's visit to Uganda in 1969 - the first visit of a Pope to Africa. Realising the need to train personnel in good Stewardship and to take responsibility as administrators and in financial management, Rose Mary prepared herself for the task.  Returned to Ireland, she took a degree in Commerce at Galway University. Having qualified, she went to teach in Nyegezi Training Centre in Tanzania where students included young priests and religious being trained in business studies. Back in Uganda in 1978 she continued  her ministry of Stewardship at Nsambya Hospital, Kampala until 1994 when the hospital was handed over to the Little Sisters of St. Francis. Then moving on to Kenya, Rose Mary continued her ministry of Stewartship with the Association of Sisterhoods in Kenya and with local Sisterhoods, with various groups of women in development and with personnel involved  with our own FMSA projects in Kenya.  In 2006 Rose Mary was appointed as our Congregational Bursar and she is kept busy keeping the Congregation and its apostolic works afloat from our Generalate in Dublin.

Sr. Teresa Rafferty - Golden Jubilarian
Teresa Rafferty reading to children
Sr. Teresa Rafferty reading her book on SS. Francis and Clare to children
Sr. Teresa Rafferty is from Swatragh, Co. Derry, Northern Ireland.  Following her First Profession, Teresa headed to Nyabondo Mission near Kisumu in Kenya where she began her ministry in education of the young.  Having trained in Fenham TTC in England, Teresa taught school and is well remembered in Nakuru in Kenya and as Headmistress of Molo Secondary School in Kenya.  As we began to hand over our schools to local management, Teresa went off to Boston College where she took a Masters Degree to prepare herself for her ‘second career’.  From her base in Baba Dogo and then Kariobangi, Nairobi, Teresa has been motoring around the large Archdiocese of Nairobi helping teachers with their Religious Education programmes in the various schools.  The roads of Kerry and Donegal in Ireland are also no stranger to Teresa who went around the Churches on Mission Awareness work, often entertaining the Congregation with her ‘song’.  Teresa is also a writer of books and believes that if the book you need is not there - then write it!  She has written “Bible Stores for Children, a book on St. Francis and St. Clare and a simplification of the story of Mother Kevin.  These are all written with the young in mind. 

The above is a brief resume of the services these Sisters have given to the mission of the Church as Religious - so much else has been left unsaid!