On September 17, 2016, Sr. Gisela Schreyer and Sr. Marie-Alice Terrettaz celebrated their silver jubilee of religious missionary life in the Congregation of the Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Africa.
Sr. Marie-Alice had made her first profession on September 8, 1991 in Butare in Rwanda, Sr. Gisela made hers on March 15, 1992. Since both shared formation time in the postulate and novitiate and now live at the Generalate in Rome, their decision to celebrate together was not difficult.
Each had the joy of welcoming members of her family who joined the sisters at the Generalate. Father Joe Buholzer member of the Missionaries of Africa presided at Mass and gave the homily on the selected text Luc 5:1-11: the miraculous catch and the call of Peter to become “fishers of men.” The first reading was taken from 2 Timothy 1:6-9a.
Symbols to express their commitment to following Christ:
The sisters renewed their vows using a symbol: Sr. Marie-Alice chose the rainbow, a sign of God’s covenant with humanity and Sr. Gisela chose a boat because she said a number of texts from the Gospel on a boat had meaning in her life: the storm, Jesus and his disciples in the boat, the calm of the lake after the storm …
The homily and the two testimonies complemented each other very well, as if they had agreed in advance. All the sisters of the community and the sisters of the General Council prepared the feast: flowers, aperitif, fruit on a skewer, vegetables … In collaboration with the cook a hearty meal was served to the guests.
We enjoyed several games and animations:
Since a month, the community has welcomed an Indian sister of another congregation who is learning French and preparing to leave for Algeria. With Sr. Marie of our community, she presented a dance from India, very original and highly appreciated by all! How many hours of rehearsal … Rosalie, an Ivorian lady who has been living in our community since February, presented a hymn on the truths of the catechism in which everyone could join and sing.
The commitment of Gisela:
I chose the boat as a symbol; I cannot say I am very brave when it comes to being in a boat, however the boat is a symbol of my faith … As Timothy I need to hear the call to revive the grace of baptism, the Spirit of power, love and constancy.
Today I thank God for the call to religious missionary life. I recognize in the Congregation the milieu in which he wants to see me grow in faith, hope and love …
What strikes me today in the Gospel that we have chosen is that Jesus is in the boat with his disciples; the disciples help one another to bring in the fish. Like Peter I thought sometimes that the Lord should look for someone else, aware of my limitations and my sins. And many times I needed to hear him say, “Do not be afraid!”
The abundance of graces freely received make me believe that the Lord really works with me and he needs my humble contribution in order to bring about God’s dream for Africa. I am ever ready to get into the boat with Jesus and with you my sisters. A few years ago, we said: “We are all in the same boat!” The boat is also a symbol of the Congregation.
We are companions on the journey, brothers and sisters of the Lavigerie family, companions with you sisters of the generalate and with all those I lived with in Congo, Burundi, Germany, Tanzania and Kenya; those who are alive and those who have gone before us.
Sister Gisela Schreyer
The commitment of Marie Alice
In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
Commemorating 25 years of commitment as a Missionary Sister of Our Lady of Africa, I have witnessed the Covenant that God made with me, the rainbow being the sign.
Today, I say thank you Lord for your call. Thank you for having enrolled me from my birth in the long march of humanity towards You. Thank you for my family, for the mountain for the St. Bernard who spoke to me of you: “Created by love for love, help me Lord, with all my brothers and sisters, with all creation, to climb to You, the highest summit.”
Thank you for your call for reconciliation that you have been repeating to me since my pilgrimage to Lourdes: “Let yourself be reconciled with Christ.” Good News which seized me and I wanted to share it with others. A call repeated throughout our congregation’s history, especially from the chapter of 2005, which challenged us to live interculturality, until today to build a more just and united world.
Thank you for sharing your desire for Life with me during my 30-day retreat.
Thank you for teaching me in Burundi, while all the apostolic commitments were falling due to the political situation, that there is no place where one cannot love. This call, you renew every day, teaching me to love in following you in whatever situation.
Thank you for telling me onc aegain, in a special way at the time of my final commitment, your desire to make a covenant with me and with all your People and the whole creation.
Thank you for your call, in difficult times, to rely completely on you and say with St. Therese: “You alone suffice!” Thank you for having taught me to be in communion with the Father’s will and to feel in peace that it is love manifested through the Cross that saves the world.
Thank you Lord for calling me now to move out into deep waters. Today, trusting in your faithfulness and the prayer of the Church and of all of you here, I renew my commitment to follow you. I commit with my sisters, to seek your desire for African Peoples and to make it a reality. Let me, let us hear your Spirit so that we become “bearers of hope, walking together to the peripheries, being present to interreligious dialogue, migrants and refugees, trafficked persons, especially women and girls and taking care of the whole creation.”
Sister Marie-Alice Terrettaz