…One day in 1937 a Dutch priest was driving an Irish girl to a Legion of Mary meeting some miles from his mission in Africa. They came to a river in such flood that the bridge across it could not even be seen. He was about to turn back when the girl cried out, “Oh Father, please go on, I’m sure Our Lady will protect us”. He was aghast but found he couldn’t resist such faith. Some men standing by formed a human chain to see if the bridge was still there. It was, so he drove on blindly. The water flooded the engine and plugs but the impetus carried the car across and up an incline at the far side. He dried the plugs and tried the starter. The car got going and they were in time for the meeting.
That girl was Edel Quinn and the incident typical of her story. In 1936 she had been sent from Dublin to establish the Legion in East and Central Africa. The difficulties were enormous but she met every challenge with unwavering faith and courage. When others faltered her invariable response was, “Why can’t we trust Our Lady?” or “Our Lady will see after things”.
This is the story of EDEL QUINN and her devotion to Mary was marked by childlike trust and utter generosity…
One day I was writing one of my short stories while sitting in a coffee shop on one of the most the well-known streets of Dublin, Grafton Street. I was looking outside, focusing on a specific area along the road. There was a group of 4 young music performers. They were singing “Hallelujah” in a very modern way, including some cool music instruments that I couldn’t identify.
As I was observing them, and waiting for the best words to flow into my next short story, a woman’s hand poked my left shoulder. In front of my eyes, the image was disappearing. My brain was preparing me for the next scene. I turned my head and I saw this huge smile on this lady’s face that had grabbed my attention. She had a disarming smile that can’t be ignored.
“What are you writing young man? What’s your story about?”
My eyes took a quick read of the situation: an attractive woman in her late thirties, with bright blue eyes covered with these old fashioned eyeglasses she kept over her forehead, short blonde hair, with a pen in her right hand. Her left hand was holding a rosary. In front of her, a coffee and a notepad filled with notes. I thought she was a journalist.
My eyes met hers, and I answered with a simple, “Waiting for the inspiration…”
Many times under pressure, I’m not able to find the perfect response that I’d wish to give, so my response becomes really short and to the point…
She looked at me, and then she took out of her pocket a very old pocket watch. She looked at the hour and then said:
“Even when somebody hurts you, let the love, joy and peace lead you towards the right thing to do!”
“Our Lady will see after things!”
“Here, I have a present for you Alex…”
She took out of her bag a brochure and she handed it to me.
I looked at the front picture and then a smile reached my face. I looked in her direction but she was gone. I mean, she literally disappeared. I stood up and walked around the coffee shop and then outside…
The Vicar General of Mauritius was speaking for many, when he said “I want to lay special emphasis on her constant joy; she was always smiling”…
Edel, in the words of a Spanish Cardinal, was “an image of the eternal youth of the Church”.
Did I meet Edel Quinn that day? Maybe or maybe not, but since that day, I try to base my life on three words: Love, Joy and Peace.
Thank you Shyla for the unforgettable gift!