Former CMS Mission Partner Honoured at Downpatrick Celebration.

Posted by Colin Corbridge on Mon, 01 Jun 2009 | Bookmark: digg this Post this to Post this to Facebook

Former CMS Mission Partner, Sheilagh Jebb, was recently honoured at a special event in Downpatrick.

‘Spirit of Patrick: Continuing the Legacy’ celebrated the lives of five key people in the Church of Ireland Diocese of Down & Dromore and was part of Down Cathedral’s 400th Anniversary celebrations. Sheilagh and the others were chosen because, in the Spirit of St Patrick, they have served in mission over an entire lifetime.

In 1950 Sheilagh became a CMS missionary to Nigeria where she remained for 26 years, nursing, training young midwives and contending daily with the challenges of poor equipment in a rural setting. In 1976 Sheilagh transferred to a health project in the Yemen. By this time she was over fifty, but she learned Arabic and for three years brought medical care to remote and mountainous parts of the country. Service followed in Sudan, Sierra Leone and the Gambia before Sheilagh retired to Bangor in 1989 where, at the age of 86, she is still active in her local parish church. Friends and colleagues described her as obedient, brave, compassionate and humble.

Mark Simpson, BBC Ireland Correspondent, hosted the evening and members of the New Irish Choir and Orchestra presented a musical programme to over 500 guests and supporters. Sheilagh’s story was told on video, and Mark interviewed her about her eventful life.

The event was the initiative of Bishop Harold Miller, who hoped that it would prove inspirational for those attending.

He said, “We have had a wonderful evening and honoured five very humble people, but our prayer is that this celebration of the Spirit of Patrick in their lives – a spirit of mission, self-giving and lifelong sacrificial commitment to the Lord – will have inspired a new generation to be prepared to give everything they have in the service of God and others.”

First year nursing student, Rachael Quinn, from Kilkeel, was excited and encouraged by the evening. “I would love to nurse in Africa, she said, and after hearing Sheilagh’s story I wish I was in my final year instead of my first. I can’t wait to get going!”

The other four people featured were: Cecil and Myrtle Kerr from Kilbroney Parish, Cyril McElhinney from Shankill Parish, Lurgan and Dr Helen Roseveare from St Elizabeth’s, Dundonald.

In a surprise presentation, each person was given a specially commissioned piece of artwork by Jill McKee from Ballynahinch. Each was inspired by the life of the person and the legacy of their work in the lives of others.

If you would like to explore the possibility of Mission Service with CMS Ireland please click here for a list of our current opportunities.

Article and Photo courtesy of Annette McGrath, Diocesan Communications Officer, Diocese of Down and Dromore.