A jubilee is a time to celebrate; a time to recall the joyful, sorrowful and glorious mysteries of life; and above all a time to give thanks for the seeds planted many years earlier as they continue to grow and bear fruit.
Srs. Veronica Moore, Agnes Hannon and Mary Cudden
The year 2011 marked forty years of service by the Mercy Sisters in the Diocese of Monze, Zambia. This foundation was initiated by the Sisters of Mercy, Navan. The first three sisters to leave for Africa were Sisters Veronica Moore, Mary Cudden and Agnes Hannon. While they set out with a mixture of excitement and apprehension these courageous pioneering women went with no idea of what they would find. However, true to the spirit of Catherine McAuley, they brought with them the desire to serve the people of Monze Diocese with God’s compassion and mercy. Over the years many more sisters were to join them and now 40 years later they can look back with great joy and gratitude knowing that the seed planted in 1971 has yielded a fruitful harvest.
Back Row L-R: Srs. Celestine Daly, Nollaig O'Horo, Mary Cudden, Angela Daly, Jacinta Mwende & Mary Delargy. Front Row L-R: Srs. Terry Rogers & Andrea Hogan
On December 26th the eight sisters now living in Mazabuka gathered to honour this jubilee year. They were joined by Fr. Philip Baxter, and Irish Franciscan, who celebrated a Mass of Thanksgiving. During the homily sisters shared treasured memories of their life here naming many of the places they lived and worked in – Monze, Fumbo, Kaleya, Mazabuka and Lusaka. The names of the sisters who had ministered here in the past were read aloud and then placed on the altar. The Eucharist ended with a special prayer of thanksgiving and all sang the Suscipe.
Srs. Mary Cudden & Andrea Hogan at the Celebration
At the celebratory meal the story telling continued. Many of the stories told were full of fun and humour while other spoke of the isolation and loneliness felt in the early years. Photographs spanning forty years were spread out on the table and evoked many memories also. Mary Cudden told of their first visit to the Victoria Falls very shortly after their arrival. Little did they realize that it was a six hour journey over a very narrow, bumpy and at times dangerous terrain. Another aspect of life in the early years was the lack of electricity. Sisters depended on candle light. At one point they longed for a storm lamp. Through the efforts of Sr. Peter Daly, Navan, a beautiful lamp was obtained, a replica of the lamps used in the Tara mines. This lamp used as a sanctuary lamp for many years is now a treasured possession.
The Storm Lamp
The sisters are indebted to many people, families, schools, individuals, organisations and parishes from around the world who have supported this mission with their money, time, talents, skills and prayers. May you all be truly blessed and rewarded for your interest, support and generosity.
As we celebrate 40 years of mission in Zambia as well as 180 years of the founding of our order may we continue to strive for a more compassionate world wherever we find ourselves. Like Catherine we can say, “hurrah for foundations,” and for commemoration of foundations for they “make the old young and the young merry.”
Sr. Mary Cudden