This year in September Sr Muriel Larkin had the privilege of revisiting Nigeria for three weeks. It was a wonderful experience and in this article she expresses her gratitude to the Congregation for giving her this opportunity. She also tells us all about her time there.
“I arrived safely in Lagos and was met by Sisters Micheline and Gloria. It was a lovely reunion. A warm welcome awaited me in St. Anne’s. Saturday was a day of rest, just what was needed after the long journey.
Sunday was a busy day. I went over to St. Joseph’s Parish Church in Kirikiri for Mass and to meet many of the parishioners. It was the children’s Harvest Day and the proceedings made the Mass very long, over two and a half hours. I had lunch with Sisters Freda, Martina and Lucy. Afterwards we proceeded down the compound for the Harvest Thanksgiving. The children danced and sang and it was altogether a very joyous occasion.
The next day, Monday, I went over to the clinic in Kirikiri and met most of the staff who were very excited to see me. They danced and sang, and for me it was lovely to see that the clinic was thriving and reaching out to the sick and needy. I promised the staff I would return again before returning to Ireland.
The staff presented me with a lovely plaque of a fisherman which I will always cherish. The sisters presented me with an ebony statue of the Blessed Trinity holding up the world.
The next day, Sisters Micheline, Gloria and I had a morning out in Victoria Island, where we had a light lunch overlooking the sea. We had plenty of fresh air and came home very relaxed after an enjoyable outing.
Next day we had a celebration lunch for Sister Ngochi who was leaving next day for Port Harcourt. We had Solemn Vespers which was very meaningful.
On Friday I was invited to Festac Community for lunch. I met Fr. Simeon Irabor there who I knew very well from Kirikiri, it was a very pleasant visit.
On Saturday I flew to Port Harcourt from Lagos where I was met by Sister Pauline, it was lovely to meet up again with the young sisters, many of whom worked with me in Kirikiri. I visited the Compassion Home where great work is being done for the physically challenged. I have no doubt that Venerable Mother Mary Aikenhead is very pleased with all the good work being done both in the home and in the school.
On Sunday I was brought to Ozoro after lunch and I met with Sister Micheline where we had a trip down memory lane to Uromi via the Monastery in Ewu. We set out eagerly on Monday morning. The road from Agbor to Ewu was terrible with large potholes everywhere. We were travelling in a Hiace truck, otherwise we could not have managed. God Bless our driver Felix! We arrived at Ewu Benedictine Monastery around two-thirty p.m. where the monks made us very welcome and had kept lunch for us. There are about forty monks in the community and we heard that they have started a second community in Calabar.
We were very impressed with the reverence and respect with which they recited the Divine Office. We visited the graveyard where Dom Augustine Sullivan O.S.B. and also Fr. Vincent Mordi, the first Nigerian monk R.I.P.
We were given a very interesting tour of the Herbal Centre which is flourishing and gives a lot of employment to the local people. It was an eye-opener. Next, we headed off to Uromi where both Sr. Micheline and I worked for several years. At the first glance it seemed that the compound was still the same, later we realised that there were many improvements. We met the principal of the school of Midwifery who recognised me from the dim distant past! When we examined students together in Benin. The principal brought us around and showed us many of the improvements.
One of our sisters, Sr. Emmanuelle is doing her training there at present and doing well. It was really lovely to see that the hospital and School of Midwifery were going from strength to strength and it was a most nostalgic and memorable visit.
We returned to Ozoro, and early next morning Sister Micheline and Felix set out for Lagos. After lunch I was brought to Okpara Inland where I had a short visit. Early next morning I went back to Lagos by plane from Warri. We had a quiet and restful weekend, and on Monday, Sister Gloria, Felix and I set out for Ibadan.
We were very lucky with the traffic and arrived in good time. We met Sr. Bríd and the four postulants, who welcomed us with song. We all had lunch together. We set out early to return to Lagos after a very enjoyable visit.
On Thursday, Sisters Micheline, Gloria, Frances and I went to visit retired Cardinal Okogie who was very happy to meet us. He was pleased to hear that the clinic at St. Joseph’s was progressing well and he seemed interested in all that was happening. When we were leaving, he said to Sr. Micheline to call again, he was always helpful to us over the years.
Alas, all good things come to an end, and so I returned to Ireland on the 23rd September. I was extremely happy that I went and I thank all the Sisters who made the three weeks so enjoyable and pleasant. I have great admiration for all the good work that is being done each day.”