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Remembering Sr Gabriel Foley, the first Prioress of Oakford

Sacred Heart Statue with Srs Lidia, Michaela, Natalie, Immaculata (with mask!)

Sr. Gabriel Foley Memorial plaque

Sr Michaela (2nd from left) and Sr Immaculata (right) are greeted by two women in Oakford

In memory of Sr. Gabriel Foley,the first Prioress of Oakford Priory, the Community of St. Rose, Ekukhanyeni, praised the Lord for the gift of her life. We celebrated the 121st anniversary of her death. We offered Mass in thanksgiving to God for all his blessings and faithful love for us, Oakford Dominican Sisters.

After breakfast, the community went on pilgrimage to Oakford. We were truly international women: two South Africans: one Zulu, one Indian (a friend); two Germans and one Argentinian. On the road we sang by heart in Spanish, isiZulu and English. It was a joyful trip.

On our arrival, a friendly dog welcomed us, and we remembered the dream St. Dominic’s mother had. Inside the grounds stood the statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus with his opened arms and hands as if to say, ‘I was waiting for you”. A little bit further we were amazed to see on top of the roof of the Marian Centre two storks and one hadeda ibis close to them. The birds were oblivious to our presence.

We saw two ladies working in the garden near the cemetery. They were so happy to see us. They are the only remaining Oakford staff. They accompanied us to the cemetery and prayed with us.

At the new cemetery while we were praying the rosary and sprinkling holy water on the graves, yellows butterflies were flying around. There was a cool breeze; we could hear the movement of the monkeys in the forest, there was a sacred silence full of presence.

We became aware that our last Sister buried in the Oakford cemetery was Sr. M. Aquinata Boos who died on 4 September 2013. It was so good to go past each of the graves and remember the Sisters with joy and gratitude, as we consider them courageous women.

In the old cemetery we noticed that many of our Sisters died very young. We did the same ritual going past their graves and while sprinkling holy water, we also were telling their stories and praying for and with them.

The ladies were eager to show us the museum but our main purpose was to visit the cemetery and honour our sisters who went before us.

Back home we shared a simple delicious lunch and we continued reminiscing about our Sisters.

Written by Sr Lidia Danyluk 15/06/2021