Sr Nora Lucey, from Ballyvourney, Co Cork, entered the Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Apostles (OLA) in 1961. After her Final Profession, Sr Nora was involved in the Ardfoyle Primary School before joining the many other OLA Sisters involved in education in Nigeria – in Ijebu-Ode and Effurun. In 1981, Sr Nora joined the staff of the Ubiaja Teacher Training College, after which she took on the role of Director of Religious Education in Warri diocese, a post she held for 14 years.
After thirty years in Nigeria, Sr Nora spent some time working with refugees in Cork City before joining the OLA team in parish ministry in London for three years. Given her expertise, Sr Nora was then asked to be part of an international OLA / SMA team working with Migrants in the Netherlands. Her gentle character added to the welcome received by those who made the All Saints Church Drop-In Centre, an English-speaking parish, their first port of call in Amsterdam. Many Ghanaian, Nigerian and other Africans found it a welcoming place as they adjusted to life in Europe.
In 2006, Sr Nora responded to an invitation from Fr Cormac Breathnach SMA to join a parish team in St Joseph’s SMA parish, Wilton, Cork.
The connection between the OLA Sisters and Wilton went back many decades until the 1980’s. Sr Nora’s arrival in the parish heralded the ‘return’ of the Sisters to Wilton. Coming from a Gaeltacht area of west Cork, Sr Nora felt that this gave her the opportunity to be involved in the Gaelscoil Uí Riada, particularly with the preparation of children for the Sacraments.
Responsible for the RCIA programme (Rite of the Christian Initiation of Adults) as well as visiting the sick etc. Sr Nora was always available, whatever the need. Over her years in Wilton, Sr Nora has prepared adult candidates for baptism / Reception into the Church from Belarus, Brazil, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Scotland, Uzbekistan and several African countries.
Shortly after her arrival, Fr Cormac got a call to visit someone who was seriously ill. When he arrived at the house, whom did he meet but Sr Nora leaving it! Sister had been passing and the family called her in. Other activities include Bible Study, meetings with the Ministers of the Word and the Ministers of the Eucharist, visiting the house bound (particularly on First Fridays), leading a Word and Holy Communion Service in the Cope foundation and many other Parish activities. The regular Sunday Children’s Liturgy was an important part of Sr Nora’s ministry.
As well as her parish responsibilities, Sr Nora developed her keen interest in Care for our Creation and other Justice issues. During 2021, as Covid limited so many parish activities, it was decided that Sr Nora would step down from her responsibilities in the parish. Fr Michael O’Leary SMA, PP, decided to mark Sr Nora’s long years of service. Following the 2021 Christmas charity appeal, in which €4,000 was collected, the decision was made to divide the money between the OLA and a group who Knit for Africa. Over the years the parish has supported the work of various SMA priests but this is the first time that they supported the work of the OLA Sisters. A cheque for €2,000 was presented to Sr Nora to be used by the OLA to assist in the empowerment of women in Northern Nigeria.
Sr Nora ended a recent Parish Report with the words: “Thank you for the opportunity to serve.” Fr Augustin Planque, who founded the OLA Sisters, once said “do the will of God in the smallest detail. Submit to him in thoughts, words, affections, desires and in a word, everything.” Sister Nora, we in the SMA, the OLA, and the people of SMA Wilton parish and beyond say: Thank YOU for doing that will of God which saw you generously serve God’s people, in Nigeria, London, Amsterdam and Cork. May you have many more years of happiness in your retirement.
First published in African Missionary Spring/Summer Edition 2022