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What a wonderful Easter Morning! The parents of immigrants, one from Ivory Coast, one from Congo and two from Nigeria, brought their children to St Patrick's Church for Baptism. It was my privilege to accompany them.

L-R: Sr. Mairéad, Baby Sarah, Marina Akrassi (sponsor), Ejiro Osagar (mother of Sarah), Adobi Obidegwa (mother of Davina), Johnson Duru (Sponsor), holding Davina. On Easter morning we arrived bright and early. Fr. Christy was there before us making sure everything was ready. He reserved the front seats for the families and friends of the children. The whole atmosphere showed that something of significance was taking place. An African told me once that preparation is a good indication of the respect that is shown to visitors. Maurice, the sacristan, was like a staunch pillar, giving us the assurance that all was well.

At noon the choir, guided by the accomplished organist, Joseph Leake, lead us beautifully in song, reminding us that ‘Christ is risen today'. After the Gospel, the parents with their four babies and sponsors were called to the Sanctuary. The babies, Alan, Sarah, Naomi and Davina were welcomed into the Christian family. Then water was poured on each child individually and our new little brother and sisters got a round of applause from the congregation. The white garment was wrapped around each child reminding us that they put on Christ. The candles lit from the Easter Paschal Candle symbolising that the light of Christ had entered each child's life, the flame telling us of the flame of faith which will burn during the child's life.

Goby Georgette holding Naomi. Marelyn and Deo Gratias holding Alan.  Baby Ngosi. Marina Akrassi (sponsor) holding Sarah, Sister Mairéad, Ejiro (mother of Sarah).

During the Prayers of the Faithful we asked God that we may always protect the sacredness of life, respect the environment and as Christians, work towards a society which is based on equality and justice. We prayed too that we may welcome all people into the Christian family.


After Baptism, the Mass continued and the choir enhanced the liturgy with their meaningful hymns of praise and rejoicing. At the end of the Mass, Fr. Christy invited all the children in the congregation to come forward to the alter. Fr. ChristyWhen he held up two lollipops, the little eager eyes brightened and they looked longing, hoping that they would be the lucky ones. One little lady was the happy recipient. And for the rest, their obvious disappointment was quickly turned to joy when Fr. Christy directed them to Big Eoin, who was waiting at the back of the Church with a large box filled with lollipops. Fr. Christy took some photographs with the parents and babies and they all went off happy and grateful for such a perfect day.

I think St. Patrick, who first brought Christianity to Ireland, was proud of his Church on that day, but more so of the priests and people who worship there. That night, as I reminisced and recalled similar experiences in Africa, it brought back precious memories of vibrant liturgies to which people trekked fifteen to twenty miles to celebrate the great Easter event.

 

Contributor:

Sr. Mairead Hickey is a native of Aughadown Parish, West Cork.. She is a Sister of Our Lady of Apostles, Ardfoyle Convent. Sr. Mairead worked in Nigeria, Ghana and Tanzania for many years, and now works with displaced immigrant families in Cork.City.

Beforehand, Sr. Mairéad and Sr. Annunciata, Presentation Sister laid the foundation for the occasion. They met the parents for 4 sessions where the basics of the Catholic faith were revised, with special emphasis on the life of Christ, meeting Him in the Sacraments, especially Baptism. This was organised by Cois Tine (beside the fire), a multicultural organisation initiated by the SMA (African Missions) Fathers which addresses the emerging pastoral, spiritual and social needs of the immigrant community in Ireland. It is rooted in the call of the Gospel to welcome the stranger.

We thank Sr. Mairéad for her contribution.

Photographs by kind permission of Mr. Thomas Nquessan