Legion of Mary Bulletin – December/ January.
Edel Quinn’s First Christmas in Africa in 1936.
Edel, the delicate young 29 year old girl whom we spoke about in our last script was appointed Envoy of the Legion of Mary in Central Africa at the invitation of Bishop Heffernan of Nairobi, a member of the Holy Ghost Order. He arranged her itinerary to travel with a group of his own missionaries who would look after her on the trip and who would then introduce her to their own Mission Centre with a view to founding the Legion there. On October 30th 1936 she left on a three week ocean voyage followed by a journey of 350 miles and 18 hours until she reached Nairobi, capital of Kenya, which was to be the starting point and end of every journey and her final resting place eight years later.
What a contrast to the Dublin she had left! She discovered that there were many centres of Christian life, a great mixture of languages and much interracial division. The commercial atmosphere was not conducive to the practise of religion there. In spite of the many internal problems presented and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit she founded the first Praesidium of the Legion of Mary in Kenya entitled "Praesidium of the Immaculate Conception" on the vigil of the 8th December 1936. Fr. Maher was its Spiritual Director. Legion work included visitation of hospitals, teaching of catechism on Sundays and recruitment of catechumens.
It was a lovely preparation for Christmas. On Christmas Eve, at the suggestion of Fr. Maher, she went to an African church for Midnight Mass. The church was packed with 1500 Africans who sang beautifully. She noted the great reverence of the occasion and she herself was the only European in the congregation. For the 6 a.m. Mass, the top of the church was packed with women who carried babies on their backs or in their arms. Later Masses followed and after the last Mass she joined Fr. Maher for a quick breakfast as he had 40 adult catechumens awaiting Baptism.
A few days after Christmas, which happened to be the hottest time of the year, she visited residents of an African quarter in Nairobi who lived in houses rented by the Government to Africans. She was accompanied by a priest assigned to the area and a Catechist. The houses had mud walls and zinc roofs and each house had about six families in it. In a letter home, Edel said that Christmas for her that year in the land of Africa was one of her happiest memories.
We wish all of our readers a graced-filled Christmas celebration and a peaceful New Year 2018.