On December 7, 2021 Sr. Maria Carmen celebrated 25 years of missionary commitment among the sisters, families and friends. Next day the celebrations continued with our brothers the Missionaries of Africa, Fr. Stephen Ofonikott, Fr. Stanley Lubungo, Fr. Stéphane Joulain who also celebrated 25 years of commitment with their missionary oath.
The ceremony presided by Bishop Claude Rault took place at the Generalate.
Here is an extract from an article on Sharing Trenta Aprile that Maria Carmen was kind enough to share with us.
My vocation story begins with a spiritual experience through God’s words to Abram in Genesis 12:
“Leave your native land and your father’s house and go to the land that I will show you”.
Since then, it has been a journey in which the verbs “leave”, “go” and “show” have been an essential part of my life experience.
LEAVING: I have always found it difficult and painful, as it has meant having to say goodbye, parting from people and places that were dear to me, that left an important mark on my life.
GOING: For me it has implied making myself available, venturing out into the unknown, listening, asking questions, allowing myself to be helped, daring, taking risks. Because the land I had to go looking for was not the one I necessarily wanted to go to, but a place which the One who called me had pointed out to me.
SHOWING: It implied a search process where the road map is not as clear or easy as on “Google maps.” It required an attempt to perceive the signs, the indications to the way forward. Sometimes the route seemed straightforward and sometimes it took several detours to finally find the place.
Moving a little further in this spiritual relationship, another word of God addressed this time to the prophet Jeremiah became relevant in my life: Jer. 18: “Go down to the potter’s house, and there I will speak my words to you. I went down just as the potter was working at the potter’s wheel. I saw that when the earthen vessel he was turning went wrong, he began to make another one, just as the potter wanted it to be.”
I began to see myself as a vessel, sometimes very small in front of the great “Potter”, beautiful, although incomplete… with a lot of love and humour, the teacher reminded me that perfection is not of this world and that in my beauty there would always be cracks that were part of my being.
A few years later, through a person who knows me well, I discovered the Japanese art of Kintsugi, also considered as an art of “damage acceptance”. It consists of repairing the cracks in a piece of art with a mixture made of resin lacquer, powdered gold, silver and bronze. The cracks are repaired without trying to hide them, making them part of the history of the object.
In other words, wounds should not be hidden, nor should they shame you, but on the contrary, highlighting them will help you to be stronger
To make me understand better what he wanted me for in the lands he was taking me to, he made direct use of the Son, Jesus of Nazareth through his word in Luke 4: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.”
To make me see it in a more precise way, he “sent” me an article by Edwina Gately entitled “Ministry on the margins”, which undoubtedly marked my apostolic ministry in all these years. It was always an invitation to go out to meet people in situations of great social exclusion… It was a “going forward” with the desire to establish contacts, to get to know each other, to reach a mutual trust through “being” and concrete actions that would give answers to some of their needs.
This has been a journey that I have not travelled alone, but always in the company and with the support of many people: that of my family in the first place, since they accepted and have continued to accept that I “leave my father’s house”. That of each of the sisters with whom I have lived in the various communities
where I have been, and of all those I have met over the years. … I cannot say any more, except thank you to life and thank you to the Lord who has given me so much.
Sr Maria Carmen Ocón Moreno, Rome, December 7th, 2021