30 November, 2016
By Ann Schulte, SHCJ
The gold, cream and purple ribbons were fluttering in the breeze as we reached an amazing two storied building at the end of a difficult “bush” road. The notice told us it was “Cornelia Jubilee Hospital”. Already cars had started parking in the spacious ground outside the front entrance. This was a special day and another big step to add to the many “steps” already associated with the hospital, as outlined by the Administrator, Sr. Rose Uchenna Nwosu, SHCJ, in her Welcome Address.
She mentioned the final inspection by the the Health Sector of the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA ) on 9th August, 2016, they were amazed by some of the equipment, especially the Theatre, Laboratory, delivery room, and scanning machine. On getting the very good inspection report, on 10th August, 2016, the very next day the Hospital opened for outpatients. Another recent step was the delivery of the first baby, and this was by a successful elective Caesarian Section on 9th October. The 21st October, 2016, would be another very important “step” with the Official Opening of the Hospital, which included a Mass and Fund Raising ceremony. Originally, His Eminence, John Cardinal Onaiyekan, the Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, was to be the chief celebrant, but sadly a priest in the Archdiocese, died, and his funeral Mass was set also for 21st October, so he could not come. However, the Parish Priest of St Kevin’s Church, Fr. Sam Tumba was a very able representative.
The Mass was held in the spacious courtyard where the ribbon theme was repeated in certain areas. There were 23 SHCJ sisters present, three from Lagos, Srs. Philomena Aidoo, Ify Atuegbu, and Ann Schulte, the communities from Loyola Jesuit College, Gidan Mangoro, and Jikowyi, with representatives from Jos, Otukpo, and Abeokuta. Present also were invited guests, Associates, including the sister of the Cardinal, Mrs. Mary Onaiyekan-Bamigbade, and Mr. Cyril Chukwu, friends, the hospital staff and members from the Parish, some of the Catholic Women’s Organisation, the Youth Group, and other parishioners. Everyone joined the choir for the lively singing while the Zumuta Mata provided local music and songs for the offertory and other parts of the Mass.
During the homily Fr. Tumba, noted that concern for health, especially of the poor, had always been part of the Church’s mission right from the early days. This was also underlined by the Chairman’s speech, which was read by his wife, as he went through the early days of the church up to the present day. Both noted that the Catholic Church has 26% of the health facilities in the world, and 65% in developing countries, including hospitals, clinics, facilities for the challenged and others for the elderly. Father also stressed that the Catholic Church was never competing with the Government, but always wanted to collaborate. He gave the example that if the Government could pay the salaries of the Doctors then the poorest patients could be treated free. Even now they are asking the Government for help with the road for easier access to the hospital.
Outside the hospital we all watched while Fr. Tumba unveiled the newly placed plaque, recalling for future generations this special occasion. After this photos were taken to commemorate the day. A lively M.C. Led us through the fund raising ceremony, though, as it was a working day, a number of “Honourables” were unable to be present, but said they would send their donation. Even the Chairman, The Honourable Sunday Isuh, had suddenly been called to a meeting today, though he was ably represented by his lovely wife, Mrs. Isuh who read the speech he had prepared for the occasion. The list of the things still needed for the hospital, went from large items like the sisters’ convent, for the 4 sisters at present in Jikowi hospital, and more in the future, to a lawn mower for the grounds. Holy Child College, Lagos, via Sr. Ify Atuegbu, gave this last item! It will take time to get the other items.
The event ended with the kind and grateful words from His Royal Highness, Rev. Dr. Bawa Sawolo the Esu, of Jikwoyi, the traditional ruler of the land, while light refreshments were given out. This was followed by vigorous dancing by the Cyon youth group,(CYO Catholic Youth Organisation of Nigeria), in which the staff and sisters joined in and gave joyful thanks to God for all that had been accomplished.
Some guests and sisters from further distances went upstairs for some refreshment before starting their journeys back. The Jikwoyi community finally retired, tired but happy and grateful to God for the successful event.