On July 3, 2021, in Gogo, diocese of Manga, Burkina Faso, our sister Julienne BOUDA vowed to follow Christ in obedience, chastity and poverty, according to the charism of the Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Africa.
The sisters on mission in Burkina, Faustina from Ghana, the novices and the postulants came to be with our sister at this important moment in her spiritual journey. There were family members of our Burkinabé sisters, friends of the community, the family of Sr Julienne and many parishioners. Two Sisters from Gogo came to support their compatriot in her commitment as well as several other sisters.
The Lord, who was the first to be involved in Julienne’s life, got ahead of us in all the preparations. The sky blessed us with a calm rain the day before, but on this day the weather was fine and even the temperature went down a little. Everyone who came was looking so happy: all the parishioners of Gogo, the choir with hymns well chosen for the occasion, the altar servers ready after two days of rehearsals, and the relatives.
During the entrance procession, to the sound of hymns and dancing, we carried pictures of our founders, of Africa and the emblem of Cardinal Lavigerie: Caritas, the symbol chosen by Julienne. The young women also danced for the offertory procession and thanksgiving. Mass was said in Moré except for the dialogue of the vow-ceremony, but the translation and explanation of the gestures were provided by the readers.
Her parents were moved when they accompanied their daughter to the altar and passed to her the lighted candle, a sign of the faith they transmitted to her as best they could.
The Vicar General of the Diocese of Manga, the Bishop’s delegate, commented on the second reading and the Gospel. He underlined that Christ is the only necessary one and that we can only be his missionaries if He lives in us. Detachment from self and from goods is important in order for him to grow in us. This homily was very close to the thought of our venerable Mother Marie Salomé who wished us Jesus.
The prostration was a solemn moment, a sign of death to self and submission to God’s will and one’s total belonging to him. Everyone knelt during the Litany of Saints. There weren’t even any curious people taking photos. We pray that Sister Julienne will always have this availability and obedience to the will of God who loved her so much. The moment of pronouncing the vows was also solemn and moving. The ring was placed on her finger, a sign of the infinite love of God and of his covenant with Julienne. This was followed by singing Our Lady of Africa and congratulations. For thanksgiving, a sister took Sister Julienne by the hand to dance. They were followed by the assembly. Everyone who could, danced around the altar and in the aisles of the church.
For the sending, Sister Julienne chose a hoe as a symbol of her readiness for the mission. Sister Celina prayed that she would be an instrument in the hands of God as a hoe is in the hands of a farmer. Indeed, the hoe is useless, unless it is used and even worn out by a farmer. The celebration ended with a few family photos and then a festive meal at the parish presbytery.
Julienne in her thanksgiving speech made the link with Caritas, the pelican, which she chose as a symbol of her total gift in the service of God. She invited everyone to work for the protection of the planet like the pelican, thinking of the generations to come.
We experimented with the motto chosen by Julienne: He fills the hungry with good things. We were “hungry” to see this celebration lived in peace and brotherhood. We were fulfilled beyond our expectations. Indeed, the preparation of the feast in Ouagadougou was difficult to imagine, but the family, in collaboration with the priests of the parish took care of the logistics. They thought of everything, nothing was forgotten as if they were organizing parties every day! Several sisters had lodged in the presbytery a few days before. It was an opportunity to get to know one another and to experience the generosity of the priests and of the seminarian who came for his vacation, in the translation of the ceremony, the organization and the reception. The family greeted us on several occasions and each time we left with gifts. What respect and what attentiveness!
Julienne’s dad expressed his joy in having such a big family, because now we are part of his family. The guests expressed their joy at seeing us so different: by origin, language, age, culture and at the same time together, as a family. Several mothers said that they will encourage their daughters to join us. Yes, God has filled our hearts with joy and gratitude. We have heard the desire of priests to open a community in their diocese.
We pray that Sr Julienne will be a useful instrument in the hands of God for his Kingdom. We wish her a good mission in Uganda.
How great is the Lord!