Sr Anne McCormack, Sr Rosarii O’Sullivan and Sr Eithne McDevitt
We are delighted to celebrate our Jubilarians this year with family and friends after the isolation of the last two years. Congratulations to our Jubilarians, Sr Rosarii O’Sullivan, Sr Eithne McDevitt, and Sr Anne McCormack.
Welcome Address, Jubilee Celebration, 5th March 2022, Ardfoyle
Good morning. You are all very welcome here today. Thank you very much for coming to join us on this great occasion as we gather to celebrate the life of our three jubilarians. Sr Rosarii O’Sullivan, Sr Eithne McDevitt, and Sr Anne McCormack. At their first profession, they each promised to live a life totally consecrated to God in the service of God’s Reign, especially in Africa. Now, these jubilee years later, we are gathered with them to thank God that they have, through the ups and downs, the challenges and trials, sought to remain faithful to that promise professed so many years ago. A special Céad míle fáilte to each of you our Jubilarians, and to your family and friends who are here with us. Fáilte to all our OLA Sisters especially you who have come from our other communities to celebrate with us today. Fáilte to our main celebrant, Fr Colum O’Shea.
Sr Rosarii O’Sullivan reached the age of one hundred on the 27th March 2020. On the occasion of her birthday, she received a centenarian letter and cheque from Michael D. Higgins, Uachtarán na hÉireann. In fact, she received a letter again last year so maybe this year he’ll call to the door himself for her 102nd birthday! We had hoped to have a big celebration in Ardfoyle, together with her family, for her 100th birthday, but due to the Covid circumstances, this had to be postponed. We are delighted her family, as well as the families of all our jubilarians, can be here today.
Sr Rosarii, a Limerick woman from Athea, entered Ardfoyle in 1944 and made her religious profession in 1947, 75 years ago. In Nov 1951, she went to join her sister Liam, also OLA, in Nigeria. She lived and worked in Northern Nigeria for the next seventeen years, teaching and teacher training in Kaduna, Agbor, Akwanga and Shendam until she came back to Ireland in 1968 to assume leadership as Provincial. She returned to Nigeria in 1973 and spent another twenty years between Kaduna, Jos, Asaba, Barakin-Ladi and Zawan, teaching as well as working in religious education and formation. After one year working in the archives in Rome, she returned to Ardfoyle in 1994 and offered various services both in the province and in the community before moving to our Infirmary, St Raphael’s, a few years ago. Here Rosarii continues her ministry of prayer and sacrifice.
Sr Eithne McDevitt has connections in many parts of the country but claims Donegal and is certainly a Donegal woman at heart. Only last year we published her missionary memoirs, a great book called the Uncharted Road. Eithne entered Ardfoyle in 1949, and made her first profession on the 8th March 1952, seventy years ago. Since then, like Rosarii, she has given her life to mission, especially in Nigeria. Her life, a missionary journey of a woman of faith, included over forty-five years in Nigeria, a year in Ghana, a year in other West African countries, almost seven years in Rome, two years in London, and the rest – before, during and after her time in Africa – , in various parts of Ireland. She has ministered in the fields of education, religious formation, spiritual direction, administration, leadership. Since returning to Ireland in 2014, Eithne’s missionary journey now continues here in Ardfoyle. She keeps in close contact with so many young OLAs and others who she accompanied on their journey when she worked in formation, especially in the novitiate in Maryhill, Ibadan, which was her last mission in Nigeria and she continues to support so many through her friendship, interest and prayer.
Sr Anne McCormack, from Dublin, today celebrates sixty years of committed and dedicated service to mission. As a young woman Anne heard Christ’s invitation to “Come Follow me”, and, out of generosity and faith, she answered ‘YES’; and over the sixty years since then, has faithfully repeated that YES – as she and our other two jubilarians still do today. Anne’s missionary journey took her to Nigeria and Tanzania. First, fifteen years, from 1974 to 1992, in Ijebu Ode, Nigeria, as Head of the Home Economics Department in the OLA Secondary School there. Then in 1994 to Tanzania for twenty years, where within a very short time Anne established the Home Craft Centre, today the Bugisi Vocational Training Centre, which helps many girls and young women to continue in education: preparing them for valuable employment in catering, management and in the sewing, knitting, secretarial, commercial, computer, hairdressing and other industries. Since 2015 Anne is back here in Ardfoyle, a member of the House Council, still offering such an invaluable service to the community here and indeed to the Province.
Today is surely a day of remembering and giving thanks to God. Anne, Eithne and Rosarii, you are invited today to remember your personal call and to give thanks for the grace which has helped you on your journey of faith and love. You have each touched the lives of many people and many people have touched your lives. We congratulate our three jubilarians and we thank God for you, thank God for calling you, thank God for all God has done for you and through you, and we ask God to continue to bless you in the journey ahead. We thank God for your families, friends and benefactors whose support has enabled you to fulfil the mission entrusted to you. We also pray that young people may be inspired by you. Like you, may young people dream generous dreams of giving oneself totally to the service of God and of others through the religious missionary life. We get bad press, but good stories don’t make the news, so it is good that today we tell, and we celebrate, the Good story!
Again, welcome to all of us here and may we enjoy our day! I now hand you over to our main celebrant, Fr Colum, to begin our Eucharistic celebration.
Sr Anne McCormack, Sr Rosarii O’Sullivan, Sr Eithne McDevitt and Sr Kathleen McGarvey