The “sisters of the world”: an international team of religious women in Sicily with the migrants.
Pope Francis asked religious last year to get involved in welcoming migrants. At the request of the International Union of Superiors General (UISG) the Missionary Sister of Our Lady of Africa (White Sisters) decided to participate in an inter-congregational, international team to welcome the migrants who land in Sicily. These migrants also come from Africa and for them, to be welcomed by African religious who can understand their drama is a valuable relief.
Sister Vicky Chiharhula, Missionary of Our Lady of Africa, Conglaise, shares the first steps of this team.
Sisters with migrants in Sicily.
We arrived in Sicily on Dec 12, 2015—from five congregations, different nationalities: Argentina, Eritrea, India, Poland and the Democratic Republic of Congo. We were very well received by everyone in the diocese of Agrigento and beyond. From the beginning, Cardinal Francesco Montenegro, Archbishop of Agrigento wanted a community that by their life, could testify that it is possible to live happily while being different. “The most important is not what you do, but the witness of a happy life together,” he said. By living united despite our differences (cultures, charisms / spirituality, races, languages), we seek to build bridges between the Sicilian population that welcomes us and migrants who come from different cultures, races, religions, languages and nations. Many people call us’ sisters of the world “
Our first steps as “migrants” among migrants:
We are still in our first steps in the effort of mutual understanding in community as well as knowledge of Sicilian culture which is unknown and totally different from ours. We live what it means “to be a migrant” like those who come from different parts of the world. The single biggest difference is that we have freely chosen this for Christ and his mission.
As we discover the environment and reality, we do small things: presence at the port with the arrival of migrants, formation for listening and internship in the diocesan listening centers, visits to hospitalized migrants and those on the street etc. While in our group there are several languages, Italian remains a great challenge. We need to know it in order to facilitate communication among us. We need to put a lot of effort into this.
Our community life, a sign of the Spirit
Our community life is somehow a mission in itself. We wish to build a community that reflects the beauty of universal sisterhood in difference. This is not obvious … All who come to see us or hear about our experience say it is a sign of the Spirit for the future of religious life. We feel an urgent call to obey the Spirit of God and let him do in us the Father’s work. We are still looking for the best way to commit ourselves concretely to build strong bridges among ourselves and with many others.
We are very grateful to all who support us in various ways. May the Lord grant us the grace to share the richness of our cultures and our charisms, to be a visible sign of his kingdom of love, unity and mercy on this Sicilian land!