Cycling ’Round Heaven All Day…
Fr Sean Collins CSsr, Howick, KZN – The report on the Legion of Mary starting its first South African praesidium 85 years ago in Port Elizabeth reminded me of that exceptional nun, Irish Dominican Sr Evangelist Nancy Raleigh.
It was she who applied to Legion of Mary founder Frank Duff and the organisation’s Dublin headquarters to authorise the establishment of Our Lady’s legion here. This was realised in 1933.
Sr Evangelist was my Standard 1 teacher at St Anne’s in Walmer, Port Elizabeth, and left a lasting impression on all whom she taught.
Gaunt, and quite ancient, with a Mother Teresa type of face beneath her flowing black and beige Dominican habit, she also had a Mother Teresa type of heart beneath an austere exterior.
An Irish raconteur, she often spoke of the painful conditions of poor families living, for instance, huddled in old, disused car wrecks. The little food they would be given would be gladly shared with their even poorer neighbours, Sister told her amazed class.
One of Sr Evangelist’s favourite topics was the glories of heaven, where the blessed could have anything they dreamed of.
“I want to be riding around in heaven on a brand-new Raleigh bicycle,” was one of her favourite descriptions of heavenly delights. The joke was lost on us — who were not aware that Sister was herself a Raleigh!
The dreadful alternative to heaven was too distressing to dwell upon: the unspeakable H-word.
Ride well above, among the other Raleigh cyclists in the heavenly Legions of Mary’s angels, dear Sr Evangelist!
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