Year of Celebration
In Vandeikya, Nigeria, our celebration of the 50th year of the
of the congregation of Our Lady's Missionaries began early in 1999. We
been praying daily, asking the Holy Spirit to be close to us in our
Year and to give us grateful hearts for the manifold graces and
God had bestowed on our fragile community over the past 50 years.
These prayers were offered again at the simple liturgy of our
in the local parish. All the gifts in the offertory procession were
made and were of a liturgical significance such as the cruets made of
pottery. These were carried up by the deaf, the blind, and other
handicapped persons as well as other representatives of our various
The Mass was followed by a feast, Nigerian-style. The whole parish had
invited to join us on the parish grounds along with many friends from
parts of the country. Typical Tiv entertainment was provided with
and dancing according to their ability and all enjoyed the same
of food and drink. The night watchman from St. Francis School for the
summarized it all, "The party good, well well, because food plenty
St. Thomas Hospital
In September of 1999 the Silver Jubilee of St. Thomas Hospital, Ihugh,
celebrated. The hospital had been opened in June, 1974, but the
celebration was delayed until September 1999 to allow time for Sr. Mona
Kelly, the first matron, to come from Brazil.
Founded by the late Donal J. Murray, then Bishop of Makurdi Diocese,
hospital was an integral part of a far-sighted medical plan in which
cottage hospitals were to be operated in the diocese. In her first years as matron, Sr. Mona was assisted by two Canadian
volunteers, Mary Ann Barnes and Lynn Taylor, as well as Sr. Mary
Deighan who was then the matron of St. Elizabeth's Maternity Clinic in nearby
Vandeikya. Fortunately, both Mary and Mona were able to be present in
Ihugh for the formal celebration of the Jubilee. Former volunteers and
employees as well as the entire present staff with their matron, Sr. Helen
a Nativity Sister, were able to attend.
The present Bishop of Makurdi, Bishop Athanasius Usuh, led the liturgy
and an enormous crowd of people attended the main celebration which
Government officials, other dignitaries and hosts of school children,
hospital employees and people of the surrounding area enjoyed the entertainment and heard numerous speeches in praise of the hospital and
its continued service over the years through the efforts of so many
Days of celebration had preceded this main event during which Mona was
welcomed back warmly after so many years by former staff and patients
Reprinted with permission, Scarboro Missions' Summer 2000 special
issue on Our Lady's Missionaries.
Sr. Gwen Legault is well known in our parish as she
lived in Crysler.
Gwen is the sister of Gabrielle Benoit of Crysler.