Mary Courtney's Jubilee

Sr. Mary Courtney Celebrates her Golden Jubilee 

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A few lines to let you know how the Golden Jubilee was celebrated on April 29th 2017. There was great excitement here in Mushili Way as Srs Louise  and Patience arrived from Mutare and Srs Paula, Loice, Mary W. and Perpetual from Lusaka. On the eve of the jubilee we had beautiful evening prayer of Thanksgiving and Blessings prepared by Frances.
The day began with a colourful Eucharistic Celebration held in Our Lady’s Parish. Our new Bishop Valentine Kalumba, OMI and six other priests concelebrated.  The church was beautifully decorated with candles, flowers and the altar was specially prepared by the Franciscan Presentation Sisters. The liturgy was very prayerful; the Bishops homily on Religious life was inspiring. He used this opportunity to encourage young people to be generous in answering God’s call to Religious life and Priesthood.
The choir excelled themselves in their singing and hymns were in English, SiLozi, Bemba and Nyanja.  Before the final blessing the Papal Blessing was presented to me by the Bishop and there was great excitement among the people especially when it was held up for all to see.

The invited guests proceeded to the Queen Hill’s Hotel where we enjoyed a delicious meal followed by the jubilee cake which was in the shape of a map of Africa highlighting the three countries I worked in.  The sisters from Lusaka brought   the cake which was baked by a friend of theirs.

My thanks to all of you who sent emails, cards, gifts and phone calls. I really appreciated your thoughtfulness and kindness. A big thank you to Srs Rose, Frances and Fidelma, sisters from Mutare and Lusaka for all the preparations for the celebration to make the day such a happy occasion.

With love and appreciation,
Mary Courtney 
A few words about Sr. Mary and her ministry: 
Sr. Mary Courtney is a native of  Ballyjamesduff, Co. Cavan, Ireland.  She entered the FMSA Novitiate in Boston 1964 and made her first profession of vows in 1967 and subsequently her final vows in May 1972. Mary then proceeded to the Mater Hospital in Belfast  to do her Registered Nursing Training and then to the Coombe in Dublin for her Midwifery.

Mary’s life as a FMSA has taken her to three countries in Africa –Uganda, Ethiopia and Zambia. Out of her fifty years of Religious Profession she has spent 38 years in Africa of which 23 of these has been in Zambia. Presently Mary is working as a nurse midwife with Community Volunteers providing quality care to people living with HIV and AIDS, Cancer, Mentally Challenged, physically disabled and Orphans. She also does some work on empowering the clients through saving and loans schemes. 
When Mary came to Zambia in 1994 the HIV pandemic was at its height, she witnessed eight to ten people dying every day from AIDS. Nowadays, the situation has improved with the advent of (ARV’s.) Antiretroviral drugs. The clients are showing a remarkable improvement in health provided that they adhere to their ARV’S. The mortality rate has reduced to two or three per day.  There is still a great need to support clients on ARV’ so that they continue treatment   and attend clinic for regular follow ups.  This is where the Buddy System helps the clients to adhere to treatment. Due to self-stigma some clients suffer from adherence fatigue and discontinue treatment. Ongoing counselling is being provided to help them accept their positive status so that they recommit themselves to adherence support and treatment.
The patients that are suffering from HIV/Aids have reduced in numbers, but there is still a lot of work that needs to be done for them. Mary is very happy to be able to assist these terminally ill people.
Each day brings its own challenges, working with the terminally ill and their families who are on heavy medication.  One day they are well and the next day they feel very depressed.  It requires a lot of compassion and patience.  Most of the mentally challenged clients are in relation to HIV and AIDS.
In spite of the challenges,  Mary feels it is a great privilege to be accorded the opportunity to care for the terminally ill and their families.  She admits that she has learned far more from them than she has given.
Mary is most grateful to her benefactors for their support in prayer and finance, for these successes could not be possible without them. May the Risen Christ bless each of them and their families.
Stay blessed.