Families, friends and Franciscan Sisters gathered at Emmaus Conference Centre in Swords, Co. Dublin on May 23rd to celebrate the Golden Jubilees of Religious Profession of Srs. Breda Flanagan, Deirdre Burgess, Rena Condron and Marie O'Brien. The celebration had been planned for April 25th, but three of the Jubilarians could not travel because of 'volcanic ash' and family members were also affected.
In welcoming guests, Sr. Miriam Duggan gave the following short overview of the Jubilarians' journeys as FMSA.
"...When Breda, Deirdre, Maria and Rena left home all those years ago and crossed the into a new way of life, they could not have known rich variety of peoples, places and forms of service they would experience along the way.
For Brigid Flanagan, the journey led her from Broadford Co. Limerick in Ireland to places like Kamuli and Nsambya in Uganda, Nyabondo, Kimangao and Muthale in Kenya. There Breda continued to nurse the sick with great skill and dedication. Having qualified as a Nursing Tutor, she took great pride in getting her students through the rigours of exams. Her work today goes on in the many woman she empowered to care for others.
Deirdre’s journey took her far from Dublin, Ireland to places like Nsubi, Kamuli, Nagongera and many other locations in Uganda where she served as a Montessori teacher, preparing the very young for the adventure of life. Deirdre also used her skills in guiding young women joining religious life, both in the Little of St. Francis in Uganda and in our own Congregation in Dublin and Kenya. Today she continues her mission in South Africa.
Rena, another Dubliner and a keen follower of sports spent many years teaching secondary school in Kiminini in Kenya and in Maramba in Livingstone in Zambia where she had the responsibility of headmistress of this large school. Rena also had responsibility for supporting and training young sisters in the Sisters of St. Francis in Zambia and in our own Congregation here in Ireland. In South Africa, Rena was involved in training Training Pastoral Ministers and guiding Small Christian Communities. Now Rena ministers to prisoners both in pastoral care and advocacy work. She is probably one of the few who are enthusiastic about being in the prison.
Marie, yet another Dubliner trained as a Nurse and Midwife. She served in places like Nyabondo in Kenya and Nsambya in Uganda where she was Matron of our busy hospital. From a relatively early age, Marie was given a lot of Congregational responsibility and fulfilled the offices of Regional Superior, Assistant Congregational Leader and Congregational Leader. Back in Zambia Marie involved herself in ministry to those suffering from HIV/AIDS, following which she administered Kalundu Training Centre. Today she can be found walking the highways and byways of Lusaka, caring for AIDS patients, orphans and widows. Her enthusiasm grows with the years.
Our Jubilarians have achieved a lot in their years and have grown in wisdom and grace, and I dare have also enjoyed life along the way."
Extract from our Jubilarians...
.."We were overwhelmed to receive so many messages of love in the form of greeting cards, Mass Bouquets, emails, gifts of all sorts and many prayers. We wish to say a very sincere thanks to each of you for remembering us and for your support and great generosity. Such an event draws us all together in unity and appreciation of our Congregational family.
Due to the fact that the four of us were in three different countries and that the celebration was in Dublin, it was not easy to make arrangements but thanks to the great cooperation all the plans eventually came together. Many e mails went to and fro during the past year as we tried to plan our Liturgy. The Icelandic ash also had a part to play as we had to postpone the celebration.!
On 22nd we went to Emmaus and the Sisters decorated the place beautifully. We had a photographic display of the Jubilarians at the various stages of our journey since 1957 and there was amusement over the various changes of dress! We have come a long way and hopefully there have been many internal changes too as we advanced in ‘wisdom and age’!
The 23rd dawned with brilliant sunshine. The Liturgy was very joyful and meaningful. The celebrants were Fr. Michael Duffy, OFM Cap, Fr. Enda Watters, CSSP and Fr Eamon Hayden, Kiltegan.
In our choice of hymns we included our Irish and African heritage and the drums and shakers were appreciated by our guests. Sisters from Sandymount, Raheny and Mount Oliver formed the 'choir', while Monica Condron sang 'Panis Angelicus'. As a concluding rite we had a thanksgiving ritual for those who had supported us on our journey. A Representative from the Congregation, our four families, benefactors, friends, co-workers and those who had ministered to us, were invited to come forward and place incense on burning charcoal so that our prayer for them would rise up like incense as we asked a blessing on them. There were approx. 100 guests including 28 Sisters. Those of us coming from small communities appreciated being able to celebrate with so many of our own Sisters, families and friends.
The meal was scrumptious and beautifully served. The two cakes which had been made and decorated by Sr. Ann and her sister Betty, were a work of art and were greatly admired by all. They tasted just as good as they looked! For old times sake, the three Dublin lassies sang ‘Whispering Hope’ and a few speeches followed and a song from Fr. Eamon who has spoken very appreciatively about the FMSA in Zambia.
It was truly a day of Thanksgiving for all that we have received over the past 50 years. We rejoice that God has called us to be members of the family of the Franciscan Missionary Sisters for Africa. We felt very much loved and appreciated and again want to thank all concerned for making our day so memorable and for all your good wishes and prayers. We ask the Good Lord to grant each one abundant blessings and to continue to bless our Congregation.
With loving gratitude from
Deirdre, Rena, Breda and Marie"