30 April 2012
“May Your Dream Live on Forever”—A Glimpse of a Missionary Life.
“Fiat mihi secundum verbum tuam”—Be it done unto me according to your word—Luke 1:38—Motto on the outside of Stella’s ring.
On Sunday February 12th last, Mercy Sisters and religious from other congregations, friends, former students and present students gathered in Makadara convent grounds in Nairobi to celebrate the life of our dear Sister Stella Mc Cormack, whom the Lord called to himself on December 3rd in Beaumont, Dublin.
Students of Huruma High
After the opening welcome to the grounds and gazebo in the newly refurbished Makadara, Sr. Mary Lavelle gave us an insight into Stella’s life and years of ministry in Kenya. Mary recalled her first glimpse of Stella—and it usually was a glimpse—as Stella proceeded ahead at a swift pace. Mary was a novice when Stella left for Kenya in 1958. Stella saw the need to educate young women who had completed primary school in the Makadara area. Many of them were not able to raise the necessary fees for Secondary Boarding School so Stella established Huruma [Mercy] Girls High School, a project that remained close to her heart.
The Second Vatican Council was the talk of the time and Archbishop Mc Carthy of Nairobi was keen to implement the directives of the Council, including religious education in schools. Stella was selected and sent to Gaba in Uganda to study Catechetics with a view to supervising religious education in the Archdiocese of Nairobi. Stella returned after a year and took up this role, one she fulfilled for many years with great enthusiasm.
Sisters of Mercy at the prayers for Sr. Stella McCormack RIP
With the Vatican Council came many changes, not least of which were changes in the dress of religious. Stella was a woman before her time and not only did she modify her dress but her hair was showing! Consternation erupted but hair in or out, Stella took up her new role in the diocese with gusto.
Stella spent some few years in the Government of Kenya Teacher Training College in Mbooni and in the Commerical College in Miguta run by the Mercy Sisters. She was a woman of great intelligence and competence and like all of us she had her limitations, particularly in the area of driving where she sometimes encountered the police but usually managed to persuade them she was on an important mission!
The occasion was graced by a number of Spiritan priests and the retired bishop of Ngong, Colin Davies who is a veteran of the Second World War. It was a great reunion of friends old and new with time to chat over the comfortable cup of tea.The Eucharistic celebration was enhanced by the memories of Stella’s life in each location and the current students of Huruma Girls High School presented us with this poem in honour of her life:
“You had a dream;
To raise me from nothing
To bring me light and hope
To show me God’s Mercy
Now, I’m something.
You brought me more than the light
Though out of sight, the light shines on
You brought me, more than just hope
Though out of sight, hope still calls on me.
Through your dream, my dream lives on
Through your love, the girl child soars
The foundation you laid, still grows stronger.
You have left the splendour of Earth
Huruma Girls High school
May your dream live on forever.
[From Huruma Girls High School family—A dedication to Sr. Stella Mc Cormack]
Theresa Burke rsm