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Edel Quinn and an Edelweiss flower which she was accidently but providently named after

Homily of Archbishop Raphael Ndingi Mwana ‘A Nzeki on the occasion of the centenary celebration of the birth of the Servant of God, Venerable Edel Quinn at Our Lady's Shrine at Knock, Co. Mayo on the 30th September 2007.

Peace be with you!

Dear friends we are gathered today to praise God the creator on the occasion of the centenary of the birth of the servant of God Venerable Edel Quinn. We are gathered at this shrine to celebrate the mystery of our redemption through the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We have also congregated here to affirm the working of the Holy Spirit in our lives as Christians and believers.

Out of her 37 years, eight were spent as a missionary of the Legion of Mary in Kenya. It is for this reason that I feel privileged to be honoured to be the main celebrant during this Mass. I bring you greetings and prayers from all the Christians of the Archdiocese of Nairobi and all the Legionaries of the Senatus of Kenya. I want to thank the Concilium Officers for facilitating this pilgrimage for me and the Spiritual Director of the Senatus of Kenya.

The Legion of Mary in Kenya.

The Apostolate of the Legion of Mary is very dear to us in Kenya and in particular to the Archdiocese of Nairobi. Little was it known that the small group founded by Frank Duff on that beautiful evening on September 7th, 1921as anew impetus in the Church was to extend her tentacles all over the world! The Legion of Mary is a lay apostolic organisation at the service of the Church, under ecclesiastical guidance. Its twofold purpose is the spiritual development of its members and advancing the reign of Christ through Our Lady.

The Legion of Mary was planted in our land by Edel Quinn, the envoy of the Legion in East Africa. She worked tirelessly and with a lot of devotion and dedication to spread the Legion in Kenya. Her resources were very meagre not to mention her poor health. She left a legacy of Mary as she planted the Legionis Mariae very firmly with her way of life. She continues inspiring and communicating the same spirit even in her physical death from her grave in St.Austin's Church Muthangari cemetery. Over her tomb is a marble Celtic cross with the inscription underneath “Edel Quinn: Envoy of the Legion of Mary in East Africa from 30th October, 1936 to 12th May, 1944 on which day she died in Nairobi.”

In 1944 I was standard 1V pupil in a primary school in one of the first Mission stations in the Vicariate of Zanzibar. Looking back at how life was and how the Catholic Church was at that time, I just wonder how Edel Quinn went about her mission. Travelling was almost impossible. There were no roads, yet Edel visited all Mission stations within what are now Nairobi Archdiocese and Machakos Diocese. It was through her deep faith in the Lord. Her trust in the prayers of Our Lady, Mother of Christ and the graces received at the celebration of Holy Mass. She knew and believed that a prayer to Christ through his Mother Mary is always answered positively.

Throughout the year pilgrims offer prayers at her grave and especially at the anniversary of her death in the month of May every year. This anniversary is celebrated on the Sunday closest to the day on which venerable Edel was promoted into glory. Each year the Senatus with my blessings invites a bishop to be the main celebrant.

This year which marks the 64th year of Venerable Edel Quinn's death, the day was marked on Sunday 13th May 2007, with Bishop Salesius Mugambi, of Meru Diocese being the main celebrant. Members of the Legion of Mary from the dioceses of Kisumu, Meru, Kakamega, Embu, Machakos, Ngong, Bungoma and Nairobi young and old, youth in their school uniforms congregated at St Mary's School Muthangari playground for this joyful celebration. The attendance averaged 4500-5000 legionaries, including visitors from Uganda and Tanzania. At the end of the celebration all the Legionaries and Christians present went home with one resolve to advance the reign of Christ through Mary and to meet again in May 2008 for the 65th anniversary.

The African people are very religious and have a deep respect for motherhood. Therefore, it was easy to preach the devotion of Mary Mother of Jesus Christ and also legion apostolate in our land. The prayer of the Holy Rosary is among popular devotions of the Catholics of Kenya and East Africa. During the weekly meetings of the small Christian Communities reciting the Rosary is usually the first item on the agenda. Devout families teach their to recite the rosary very early in life while the rest are taught during catechism classes organised in the Small Christian Communities, in the Parishes or in our Catholic Schools. It is very common to have children and even adults carrying their rosaries around their necks.

Our Christians know and understand the role of Mother Mary in our salvation. Mary occupies a very central place in their religiosity so much that even in the greetings she has a special place. ‘Christ thy kingdom come- Through Mother Mary. The various feasts of Mary are celebrated with a lot of devotion and love. This we attribute to a large extent to the contribution of the Irish Holy Ghost Fathers and other missionaries. The Legion Apostolate through tireless efforts of Edel Quinn also played a significant role. In the monthly reports to the Senatus, we realise that even today, the Legion Apostolate continues to be relevant as a necessary tool of Evangelisation. The ignorant are taught about Christ, the sick are consoled, the lapsed Christians are encouraged and even the non Christians are educated on the role of Mary in our lives.

The Apostolate of the Legion of Mary and the Eucharist.

Today as we celebrate 100 years of the birth of Venerable Edel Quinn, we are called to emulate her life especially her love for Jesus in the Eucharist. While she was devoted to the life of saints e.g. St.Thérèse of Lisieux, St. John of the Cross and St. Louis Marie de Montfort, each day she spent up to 30 minutes before the Blessed Sacrament and recited the 15 mysteries of the Rosary. This fits very well with the words of Pope Benedict XVI on the role of Mary in the Eucharist in his Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation, Sacramentum Caritatis given on 22nd February 2007.

“Every time we approach the Body and Blood of Christ in the Eucharistic Liturgy, we also turn to her who, by her complete fidelity, received Christ's sacrifice for the whole Church. The Synod Fathers rightly declared that “Mary inaugurates the Church's participation in the sacrifice of the Redeemer. She is the Immaculata, who receives God's gift unconditionally and is thus associated with the work of salvation. Mary of Nazareth, icon of the nascent Church, is the model of each of us, called to receive the gift that Jesus makes of himself in the Eucharist”.(Paragraph 31).

The Canonisation of Venerable Edel Quinn

Without any doubt Edel Quinn gave her whole life to the service of Christ through Mother Mary in the Legion Apostolate. Her devotion to Christ, her dedication to her work even when she was in a strange land and sickly, and her resignation to divine providence all point to a holy life. “She fulfilled this mission with such devotion and courage as itself to stir every heart and to leave the Legion of Mary and Africa itself for ever in her debt. Many of us from the beginning have been praying that Edel Quinn will be raised to the altars.

Fran Duff was convinced that Edel Quinn would be canonised, considering that she had all the essential qualities for holiness. He said this of her “She saw a star and aimed for it and would cut her way through forests and mountains to reach it, ready to tackle anything, willing to endure anything. She really loved God with her whole heart and soul. She was never thinking about herself but was always deeply concerned about everybody else. And she was so cheerful.”

On 15th December1994, Pope John Paul in a special assembly of the Cardinals and other members of the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints made the following solemn declaration “It is certain that the Servant of God, Edel Mary Quinn a secular virgin of the Legion of Mary, practiced to a heroic degree the theological virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity towards God and her neighbour and likewise the cardinal virtues of Prudence, Justice, Temperance and Fortitude”. John Paul 11 ordered the Decree to be published and to be inserted in the Acts of the Congregation. Because of this proclamation of her outstanding holiness Edel Quinn now bears the title Venerable.

We therefore continue to pray tirelessly that her cause of canonisation come to fruition soon. All legionaries and indeed all Christians are encouraged to continue the prayer of the Canonisation of Venerable Edel Quinn. In this celebration let us pray that the Church will see her heroic achievements and in due course mutatis mutandis declare her a Saint.

We should not forget that it is our duty to report any favours granted through her intercession to the relevant offices. We are also called to pray for the beatification of the Founder of the Legion of Mary, the Servant of God, Frank Duff.


As we rejoice that God gave us Edel Quinn through her parents a century ago, we pray through the intercession of Mary the mother of the Church that:

  • The dignity of life will always be respected.
  • The Church may continue to get many workers; priests, religious and laity to spread the Gospel of Christ to the ends of the earth.
  • The Servant of God Venerable Edel Mary Quinn be canonised soon.
  • Mary, Queen of the Most Holy Rosary, pray for us.

+ Archbishop Raphael Ndingi Mwana ‘a Nzeki
Archbishop of Nairobi
Sunday, 30th September, 2007.

25. Mary loves Jesus in me, caresses and compassionates Him for all His wounds. But, above all, she speaks her gratitude for the Eucharist, and gives thanks to the Eternal Father for that Gift. Without the Eucharist, what a desolation life would be!
(Words of life from Edel Quinn, the Eucharist)

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