On September 8, 2019 we celebrated 150 years of our foundation. In all our communities, united to one another, we lived this day in a special way. Here are the echoes of the celebration at our generalate in Rome.
On September 8, we celebrated the 150th anniversary of our founding. What a blessing! On this occasion, at the generalate we had a simple but very significant celebration. The central point was the Mass presided over by Msgr. Claude Rault, Missionary of Africa, Emeritus Bishop of Ghardaia, Algeria.
Here are some excerpts from his homily:
“150 years ago a man was scanning the stormy horizon to see if the sea was finally going to bring him his beautiful birthday gift for the Nativity of Mary. A very small group of women to carry out his project: to create a new Congregation to help a population often forgotten by the colonizer. Women and children were in danger and the Archbishop of Algiers could not resign himself to being helpless.
And as in all birth there is pain, it began well … I guess for these Brittons tossed by the waves between sky and sea! They came to serve Christ and follow him and knew that the cross was not absent from their decision. “He who does not carry his cross and walk in my footsteps cannot be my disciple.” This is what the Gospel of today tells us. (…) And we know that beginnings like all births, go through suffering and trial. In short, the challenge has been met and the evangelical adventure has succeeded since you are here! Just for that it is worth celebrating this Eucharist, giving thanks to God for the gift received: that of yourselves, of those who have preceded you and those who will follow you.
In your fragility and your small number, you face the great challenges of the Church: that of radiating the Gospel, that of migration, poverty, the situation of women … and so many others! But we know, as Pope John Paul II said, that the important thing is not the numbers but to be a sign. A living sign, consistent with the Gospel in a world that risks sinking into speech inflation!
Throughout my missionary journey I could only rejoice in the presence and collaboration with the Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Africa. This partnership in the Mission has always been fruitful and positive, since I had the joy of welcoming, in the Diocese where I served, two African congregations that claim to be your daughters.
Continue to be what you are since your birth: servants of Christ and Africa. That is why a few girls, 150 years ago, crossed the Mediterranean despite the storm. The storm is part of our missionary lives, as it is part of the life of the Church … and the period we are going through is very demanding! Do not be afraid. The Essential is to know that Jesus is with us in the boat. His Presence is Essential even if he sleeps. He will calm the sea and the waves and bring our boat to shore, as he did 150 years ago for these young women who crossed the sea and preceded you in your evangelical mission.”