On Friday the 13th Loreto Balbriggan welcomed some very special visitors from the convent next door and from Gorey in Wexford. Sr. Stephanie and Sr. Germaine are two Loreto Nuns who both spent over 40 years working as missionaries in Kenya, Africa. Along with their visit we were lucky enough to display a wonderful exhibition from The Irish Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya. The exhibition depicted wonderfully, the relationship between Kenya and Ireland, which began over 100 years ago, how it started, the wonderful things that happened to strengthen it and where it stands today.
Some of the topics covered in the exhibition were the introduction of coffee to Kenya, the NGOs that work in Kenya. The work done by the IBVM in Kenya also the work done by other religious orders such as The Legion of Mary. One specific person from the Legion of Mary was the Venerable Edel Quinn. She went to Kenya when she was only in her 20’s and spent the remainder of her life there, driving all over North East Africa, opening Legion branches and helping the less fortunate. The exhibition was so educational and truly opened our eyes to Loreto outside of school, a Loreto that we are not all too familiar with, a Loreto that we need to learn more about. Sister Stephanie began with asking us to close our eyes and imagine a journey to a place we would like to visit. Some of us imagined a big ship sailing the open sea for a long period of time, until we reached our destination or others a luxurious plane ride. She then proceeded to ask us to imagine the beautiful country or city we had arrived in. Some were vast and packed with people or others had brought their mind to a quiet beautiful island. After we opened our eyes we reflected on each other's journeys.
Sister Stephanie then told us about the long thirteen day journey sister Germaine took to Kenya. She was sent as a missionary when she was young, she told us she did not have the option to not go. Off she went and lived her day to day life there teaching and helping in a small town in Kenya . Her work was of great benefit to those around her and her story really captured us. What caught us most by surprise was the fact she lived forty four years there! She spent most of her working life there; devoted. We all regarded a huge respect for her. Then Sister Stephanie told us a little about her own personal experience in Kenya. She had gotten a plane and had wanted to go. She explained how she had really wanted to peruse her missionary work in India but as it turned out she was sent to Kenya. She loved her life there also, she became one of the locals and also did teaching there. Sister Stephanie had only returned back from Kenya two years ago! After we heard from the two sisters we all got to chat about the exhibit and learn interesting facts about Ireland's relations with Kenya. We thanked the sisters dearly and were very grateful for them to share such an amazing journey with us.