Paroisse Notre-Dame-du-Rosaire • Our Lady of the Rosary Parish
C.P. 279 • P.O. Box 279  Crysler, Ontario, K0A 1R0
Administrateur/Administrastor: Claude Hallé, ptre
Agente de pastorale/ pastoral associate: Mme Danielle d'Anjou-Villemaire
  Téléphone/Phone: 1-613-987-2870  Web:

Parish Directory - Saint Bernard:
Parish Priest: Cyprian Ihedoro, s.m.m.m. in Crysler at 1-613-987-2315
Accountant: Mary VanLoon 984-2976 • Cemetery: Hans Bakker 984-2910
C.W.L.: Barbara-Ann Glaude 984-2398 • Mass Cards: Bertha Sullivan 984-2067



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Jubilee Celebrations in Nigeria


By Sr. Gwen Legault, O.L.M.



Silver Jubilee

St. Francis School for the Deaf and Blind opened in Vandeikya in 1975. Our Lady's Missionaries were already operating a maternity clinic in the town and I was invited to come and work with the many deaf children they had encountered in this mission area. The beginnings were simple and basic: values we have tried to retain. The original school was a mud-block roundhouse on the clinic compound. There were no teaching materials available so I made all my own flash cards from cardboard boxes, using pictures cut out from magazines sent from Canada.

My first student, Joseph, arrived unexpectedly on our veranda on Mission Sunday. He was in rags with no known family in sight. I was hopeful. Soon a few parents brought their children, hoping, since the school was in the clinic compound, that I would cure them of their deafness. They later realized that education is itself a cure for their children who, until then, had lived in isolation bereft of any real interpersonal relationships.

As the years passed we were relocated to a three-room building where we began to accept blind students as well as the deaf. My first four students were sent to a rehabilitation centre in Imo State to study carpentry, tailoring, shoemaking and bag-making. Since they had been taught in English, they were able to communicate with people from other tribes by signing or printing their thoughts in the sand. They returned after a three-year period and were well able to make a future for themselves in their various trades.

Growing takes time and people's needs change. The ordinary can seem astonishing when viewed from a time span of 25 years. Now we are permanently situated on the edge of Vandeikya with ample space for buildings, sports field and farm.

Nigerian Sister Josephine Ayogu* (Handmaids of the Holy Child Jesus) who did her year of national service with us, returns as our school principal after advanced training. Her total dedication sets an example that anything is possible with hard work and cooperation and that our school motto, "Equal opportunity for all" is a reality. She and some of her community live on the compound with the residential students.

Gratefully we celebrate our growth. The blind have opened our eyes to the beauty of sight. The deaf have opened our ears to the wonder of sound. All is gift! We have grown here together, sometimes in tears but more often in laughter. The sum total of our efforts of 25 years seems like dewdrops in the lavish ocean of the hundredfold. Together may we sow seeds of love and praise: true, lasting values.



Sr. Gwen Legault with a daily visitor to the Vandeikya compound.
Sr. Gwen teaches at St. Francis School for the Deaf and Blind in Vandeikya, Nigeria.
In addition, she does pastoral visiting in the community.


Year of Celebration

In Vandeikya, Nigeria, our celebration of the 50th year of the foundation of the congregation of Our Lady's Missionaries began early in 1999. We had been praying daily, asking the Holy Spirit to be close to us in our Jubilee Year and to give us grateful hearts for the manifold graces and blessings God had bestowed on our fragile community over the past 50 years.

These prayers were offered again at the simple liturgy of our celebration in the local parish. All the gifts in the offertory procession were locally made and were of a liturgical significance such as the cruets made of local pottery. These were carried up by the deaf, the blind, and other handicapped persons as well as other representatives of our various ministries.

The Mass was followed by a feast, Nigerian-style. The whole parish had been invited to join us on the parish grounds along with many friends from other parts of the country. Typical Tiv entertainment was provided with drumming and dancing according to their ability and all enjoyed the same abundance of food and drink. The night watchman from St. Francis School for the Deaf summarized it all, "The party good, well well, because food plenty for all the people."


St. Thomas Hospital

In September of 1999 the Silver Jubilee of St. Thomas Hospital, Ihugh, was celebrated. The hospital had been opened in June, 1974, but the official celebration was delayed until September 1999 to allow time for Sr. Mona Kelly, the first matron, to come from Brazil.

Founded by the late Donal J. Murray, then Bishop of Makurdi Diocese, the hospital was an integral part of a far-sighted medical plan in which three cottage hospitals were to be operated in the diocese.  In her first years as matron, Sr. Mona was assisted by two Canadian volunteers, Mary Ann Barnes and Lynn Taylor, as well as Sr. Mary Deighan who was then the matron of St. Elizabeth's Maternity Clinic in nearby Vandeikya. Fortunately, both Mary and Mona were able to be present in Ihugh for the formal celebration of the Jubilee. Former volunteers and employees as well as the entire present staff with their matron, Sr. Helen Adah, a Nativity Sister, were able to attend.

The present Bishop of Makurdi, Bishop Athanasius Usuh, led the liturgy and an enormous crowd of people attended the main celebration which followed.

Government officials, other dignitaries and hosts of school children, hospital employees and people of the surrounding area enjoyed the entertainment and heard numerous speeches in praise of the hospital and its continued service over the years through the efforts of so many dedicated people.

Days of celebration had preceded this main event during which Mona was welcomed back warmly after so many years by former staff and patients alike.


Reprinted with permission, Scarboro Missions' Summer 2000 special issue on Our Lady's Missionaries.

Sr. Gwen Legault is well known in our parish as she lived in Crysler.  
Gwen is the sister of Gabrielle Benoit of Crysler.



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Last modified: October 20, 2001