All Honour for Fr J. D. O’Connell by Agatha Aduro

Today, I stand to salute a great man, whose greatness is bellowed by his utter humility. A priest, a teacher, a moulder of character. An Irish man, a priest of the other of St. Patrick’s Society – Very Rev. Fr. J. D. O’Connell, SPS, MFR.
After serving as a priest of Minna Diocese for 55yrs and school Principal for 50, Fr’s time in Nigeria is slowly coming to an end. It was therefore only apt that one of the many occasions in his honor be held today.
One day, I will write about this man. About his time at Government Secondary School Minna which is more correctly called Fr’s school – there is no higher honor than to be called Fr’s boy. A badge many wear with pride. His boys are legion; former governors, commissioners, lawmakers and even the legendary Cyril Stober. If you were a young boy in Minna and you were not in GSS, you were of all men, to be most pitied. And I perhaps may hold the distinction of being the only girl Fr wanted to offer admission to after it became an all-boys school – I mean, he had a complete plan of how I would sew the trademark gray trousers.
Remembering his stories of carrying wooden desks and chairs across River Kaduna to the hinter areas of Wushishi bring tears to my eyes.
Remembering his stories of disabling one headlight of his car so that the truant boys he was after, in the bush would not realize it was he, imagining it was a motorbike until he was upon them, bring laughter to my lips.
If you saw a school boy walking home in gray trousers but without a school shirt or with one leg of shoe, just know Fr was punishing him. Go home and explain to your parents why you went to school with shirt and came back without.
One day, I will write about this man, quietly dignified in the suffering that Parkisons brought him in this latter part of his stay. Determined to be completely self-reliant and hesitant to ask for help if he thought it was going to be a burden. Wanting to cause the least amount of disruption possible. One day, I will write about him, and it will break my heart.
Everyone in Niger feel an intense need to show this man how much he really means to us: from road walks to traditional titles. Today the Niger state government announced the re-naming of GSS Minna to Fr. J. D O’Connell Secondary School. That they may truly be Fr’s boys.
Fr O’Connell, much like the rest of us, doesn’t want to go. And when I say ‘Fr, don’t go’, he laughs. Because we both know that he is loyal to his vows, even to the last; Poverty. Abstinence. Obedience. Always Obedience.
It is the same laugh we get when he’s being stubborn about something. The same laugh we get when we say ‘Fr, you’re not sitting properly. Stand up and sit properly’. And he laughs, and stands up and attempts to fit his Parkinson-afflicted body properly into the chair. Or when we ask ‘Fr, have you been exercising?’ Always that laugh.
Jennifer and I are not in Minna at the moment so on Monday he called us to ask us our email addresses. On Tuesday, we both received mails with almost 30 pictures form the varioua activities going on now. Because Fr. O’Connell.
One day, I will write about this man. But today, let me say, here is a man who completely embodied his society’s motto: Caritas Christi Urget Nos; The love of Christ compels us.
Today, let me say ‘Here is a man, truly like Christ’. Here is a Man of God.

I’m afraid to tag all the Fr’s Boys on my Facebook friend list because this post will become a market! (That’s how we refer to GSS when we talk – Fr how was market today?) But I will. And if you are tagged and you believe Fr had any impact on your life, share on your wall and tag your friends! Heck, share this post on your blogs and everywhere else.

God bless Fr. O’Connell. God bless us all.



face of heaven (a poem) by su’eddie vershima agema

rainbows hide memories of misery
that certain storms bring
peace a colour
of the wind poured into one
that helps give our souls joy…

the face of heaven
is a smile that lived
in my heart
i found its construct
in your words
as they came together slowly
one on the other
…it was  also the beauty of your being
close to me
in flesh, as in heart…

to first draw a line
then stretch at the ends
a bow that brings peace
in grins
a fulfillment of ease

now and then
when uncertainty and past slips
seek to drown my ease
when storms blow in torments
i will seek treasured moments
to fight through the torrents
till the sun shines again to make things bright

i will seek you…
to help pull back that line
my eyes will look to the skies
and if no rainbow appears
in which your beauty is knit
i will draw one…then find you in it

i will find you
even if you be far…

i will draw our love anew
then bring together again
heaven’s face






I just completed the poem, ‘Face of Heaven’.
I started writing the poem in church on Sunday. Yes, I did. The sermon was on the miracle at the wedding of Cana. I think there’s much we can pick from the Bible. There’s so much treasure within. I could preach on and on, but even if you wouldn’t believe, find peace there. But back to the poem…and the sermon.

I was touched. Love has many issues and sometimes, we carry burdens, worrying for those we love and…worrying for ourselves. Sometimes, we go through so much strife we wonder if it is worth it. Might be we get to that point where we forget the joys that once were the key things that got us going…

Truth is, I wanted to write a sad poem. But the lines kept changing. And soon, it flowed on. I tried to tweak it again, at some point and felt happy at my supposed success. After hearing much from friends and feeling bad with certain issues, I decided to post the poem. But looking at it, I began to wonder how people would feel when they read it; if it would bless them or break them. In the middle of everything, in some boil, I got to talk to Belle. After everything, I came back to my post here. Decided to rather bless, if I can.

Slowly, new words came, new stanzas. New ideas also came in that took the poem beyond love alone. It is lovely to see how the mind makes different things work. But I took time again and crafted diverse themes and thoughts. I shall restrict to its interpretation in the face of love. Now, in that light, I don’t know if I have done a good job but this poem here comes from my heart and is in the spirit of those ‘Note-To-Self’ pieces.

I believe in love but I know there is pain in it. Many times. Hasn’t it been compared to the sweet rose with its thorns? Still, don’t let any moment change you or make you lose hope. There’s beauty in us all. Even when you go through storms, even when doubt, anger, fear or worry comes in, love stands strong.

Find memory as your strength, work towards building every broken relationship, sustain those in their bloom while treasuring moments to use in the future when torments come and remember, love’s happiness and sorrow is worth every second.

It is hard…but worth it.

Good morning.

Posted in THANKS, Uncategorized


We all should keep a grace – or is it thank you – journal. Whatever it is called. It is that book where you write any good thing that happens to you. You know, someone is nice to you, write it. You watch a movie and get kicks from it, write it. It helps on many notes. Makes you smile broader on many days and on days when you are down, reminds you of the two sides of life – the ying and yang: the good and bad.

The heat of the world seems to be getting fiercer with increased burdens on our shoulders. We don’t know where to turn and in the end, we usually have to look to the skies for help or as it always turns out, look within to find the comfort and peace that cannot be got from anywhere. Friends and loved ones might want to help but there’s only so much they can do. It helps to have them send comforting words or do things to help.

Talking about friends who stand for us. There are those people who try to stand for us when we are down. Who want us to be happy. Many times they would reach out and try to say comforting words, to reassure you or just do certain things that they hope will bring you joy. For instance, they might tell you words (like I would) like: ‘You know I love you?’ ‘You will be fine’ ‘Things will be okay’.

They might try to take you out or do some act of service. Yes, many times it might not be totally what you need but it helps a lot to repay the care and effort of these ones. Please, no matter how depressed or down you might be, try to acknowledge this. I have learnt to say ‘I know you do’ when I am asked by a loved one : ‘You know I love you, right?’ even when in some time of downness I am not really feeling it (truth is in that moment, one demon will make you wonder if they do, hee hee hee). Why? Because sometimes it helps. Next question is ‘what if you don’t mean it then?’ I dunno, I guess.

Now, I am beginning to wonder where all of this is going to. I guess I am just rambling. But what the heck, this is note to self, right? 🙂

I have had many rough days and it has always been nice knowing that there were people out there who care. In the particular moment many words didn’t make sense but much later, as I read or found warmth from the service, I found gratitude. A ready example gratefulness-2comes to mind. I was going through my house on a certain morning when I was down and discovered that one of my younger sisters had done my laundry and rearranged my wardrobe. It made me smile. Later, I was talking to Belle and she noticed my downness. After the call, she sent me a message. I replied and forced my spirit to spit words.

The journal of gratitude too is something that shows me how much life has given me to be thankful for and how sunny the day can be. It reminds you also of things that could have been worse, favours that have been granted and more. Reminds me of the poem, ‘I could have lost you.’ It was inspired by true events and many times when I read those words or similar writings I have, it makes me more grateful. Maybe we should all learn this. Am I saying too much? Also remember cases of others too, who are worse. Perspective brings gratitude many times. On this now, I was just reading a post from Subman’s blog about a man and his wife who were walking. Someone bumped into them and our man asked very rudely: ‘Hey! Are you blind?’ The bumper replied: ‘Actually, I am.’ Darnit!

What else?

You can expand it to make yourself find laughter in that book. Much as possible try to make others happy too…then if it goes right, you find happiness, and yup, write that down too 🙂

Yes, update your blog and share whenever you get these kind of thoughts. Hee hee hee.

Seriously, be grateful for all the good things that happen to you, for all the people in your life and for every time you had cause to smile, even for a second. More, write these down much as possible.

Wherever life leads you today, I pray that you find peace and that the grace of the heavensList gratitude - Oprah will smile on you. Much as you can too, keep a smile. The universe has your back, even when you don’t think so. Cheers!


Song for the moment: ‘Cry No More’ by Uncle Charlie Wilson



I greatly dislike BCs but there was one that got to me that I had to write down. I don’t know the originator but I know the words are original gold:

When someone hurts you, write it down in the sand where winds of forgiveness can blow it away.When someone does you good, engrave it in stone where no wind can ever erase it.

Make happiness a priority for you and yours. YES, you can.


Thank you Aidee, Yemie, Jay, Aondosoo and Debbie. Mch lv to Belle, as usual 😉