Sr Ann Cahill

sr_ann.jpgAs a primary school pupil in Bartlemy, Rathcormac, Cork I had heard stories about the plight of Africans in the United States and of Martin Luther King’s efforts to win human rights for them. At that time, the 1950s, I was collecting my spare pennies for Africa!

So one of my dreams was to go and help the disadvantaged in Africa. As I was good at mathematics, my second dream was to help pupils who were weak in this subject. As I advanced through secondary school, another dream took over: I fell in love with God, or rather God’s love for me became an overwhelming experience. I was smitten by Him and ‘walked on air’ as anyone who is in love does.

At our OLA secondary school in Cork, I was impressed and inspired by the evident happiness and dedication of the OLA Sisters so I joined them in 1960 with a view to becoming an African Missionary Sister. My first assignment as a Missionary Sister was to Kaduna in Nigeria where I taught in a secondary school. I felt privileged to be part of a project which worked towards the betterment of African women. Being from the North of Nigeria, many of my former students, both Christian and Muslim, would have been among the first women of their respective ethnic groups to complete both secondary and tertiary education and in time become leaders in areas of education, law, medicine, architecture, science etc.

From 1987 to 1994, I worked in Sudan. This mission was an altogether different and new experience. I lived and worked in an encampment where thousands of displaced people came to seek shelter from the war-torn South of Sudan. Many too came from Darfur in the West. I loved this work and even though it was often frustrating, it was always challenging and very fulfilling. Our way of living as Church was through small christian communities. Attending small group meetings enabled me to hear the stories of these dispossessed people. I was so impressed at how they shared their faith and tried to survive despite being deprived of even the most basic of human rights. Having no possessions they could still be happy and care for each other. What a lesson for our materialistic West.

In 1994, I returned to Ireland to care for my ageing mother. After she returned home to God, I prepared for a new mission experience in Mwamapalala in Tanzania where I now happily live and work with my two OLA Sisters, Emmanuella and Catherine, both from Nigeria.