“There is no greater love than to give your life for those you love”
These words of the gospel in Jn 15:13 inspired our sister Marcelline Nemeyitora to make her perpetual vows. She pronounced her total and radical YES to Jesus in order to give her life like Him, for the mission to announce the Good News of his love for everyone, in our congregation, the Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Africa.
Marcelline’s vocation, fruit of the work of our missionary ancestors
We celebrated this event in connection with the 150th anniversary of our founding by Cardinal Lavigerie. Indeed, Marcelline’s definitive commitment is a visible fruit of what the first sisters and fathers have sown, from generation to generation, during all these years of evangelization in Africa. And now Lavigerie’s desire has come true: “Africans themselves have become Christians and apostles!”
A joyful time of preparation
For it to succeed, the preparation was an important time of meetings: a visit to the Bishop of Muyinga, the diocese of Marcelline, visits to her family, the cathedral parish of Muyinga, Radio Maria. There were meetings with various groups: preparation committee, missionary activities at the Sunday Mass in Muyinga, the Vocational Group and in the schools of Muyinga and Gitega.
And finally May 26 has arrived, the day of celebration and joy! Many people came to Muyinga Cathedral to accompany our dear Sister Marcelline: 15 Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Africa, from Kenya, Rwanda, Congo, Algeria and Burundi; 5 pre-postulants, one aspirant, 14 Missionaries of Africa, Marcelline ‘s family and many friends and Christians of her parish.
The celebration was presided over by Bishop Joachim Ntahondereye, Bishop of Muginga, accompanied by Bishop Blaise Nzeyimana, Bishop of Rugiyi and Bishop Goyagoye, Bishop Emeritus of Bujumbura.
The celebration of perpetual vows
It all started with an entrance procession with the symbols that are dear to us: Africa, a globe representing the world, Our Lady of Africa, Cardinal Lavigerie, Mother Marie Salomé and the pelican recalling that we give our life just as Christ did.
There were special moments: such as the ceremony of light; the call by Sr. Florence Mwamba and Sr. Victoire Niyonzima, leaders of the Central Africa Entity during which Marcelline was accompanied by her parents giving their daughter to Christ in our religious family; the prostration where Marcelline lying on the ground was accompanied by the litany of the saints symbolizing the gift of her whole life; then the moving moment of the bishop’s triple blessing.
Other highlights: her commitment, when with her hand on the Bible she said publicly that she was committed to “collaborate in every way with the work of God to proclaim until death, God’s reign in Africa.” Then at the altar signing her commitment; the blessing of the ring symbol of her covenant forever with Christ; and the time of congratulations to embrace Marcelline with singing and dancing.
At the end of the celebration, the sending of Marcelline on mission to Chad and with the Missionaries of Africa we sang the “Sancta Maria” to entrust Marcelline to Our Lady of Africa and ask for her protection.
After the Eucharist we continued to share our great joy with a festive meal taken at the Muyinga Inn. There was time for speeches, for the ritual of drinking together the local beer from a calabash, a sign of unity and love; the festive cake, songs and dances, as well as a time for gifts and family photos.
We thank the Lord for the gift of our Sister Marcelline.With her we renewed our missionary commitment: “With Christ, always faithful to Africa”
Sr. Maite Oiartzun Nshimirimana on mission in Burundi