From October 23 to 29 in Ouagadougou, the Pre-capitular Chapter of the North-West Africa entity, NOUA, took place. It brought together 17 sister-delegates, including the entity leadership team. We had the joy of welcoming two sisters from the General Council: Juliana Karomba and Marie-Carmen Ocon from Rome, as well as Marie Ange Ndayishimiye, translator and Clementine Mukampabuka, secretary.
The preparations for this meeting took place long before, and ended with the Ignatian retreat accompanied by the writings of our venerable Mother Marie Salomé. The retreat was led by our sister Angela Kapitingana. We are grateful to her. 26 sisters took advantage of this retreat.
Many other meetings and events also occurred: First of all, the first vows of 5 novices and the perpetual vows of Sister Agnieszka brought together a number of NOUA sisters. It was a great joy to meet again after several years without meetings because of the Covid.
Sunday, October 23 was Mission Sunday in Ouagadougou. Our brothers the Missionaries of Africa invited us to their parish of St John XXIII for a presentation. Saturday evening and Sunday, we prayed with the faithful. It was an opportunity to present our congregation and our charism and a good opportunity to meet as brothers and sisters.
The chapter began in the evening with prayer around a piece of patchwork, a work of art that we contemplated, a sign of our interculturality and internationality. Our differences united in one body, because we are the body of Christ. Each of us is a member of this body, each receives the grace of the Spirit for the good of the whole body.
On Monday we contemplated what the Lord has done through us and with us, bearers of hope over the past 6 years. We were amazed and moved by the testimonies of our sisters about their mission, how God acts in our life and the lives of those we meet. The mission makes us live! Our raison d’être is to announce the Good News!
Here are some examples:
In Tunisia the young Muslims of Kef received our sisters in a Church, for a meeting and exchange. One of the questions focused on living together, how do we live it? It was an unforgettable experience. These young people organize themselves to continue the journey with us, respecting everyone.
In Chad, after 11 years, the Kapokier Rouge center was officially recognized and received the status of a Health Center. So many doubts: too big and too ambitious! And yet the sisters believed that it was to offer a quality of life to sick people, through arqromertherapy. It is a prophetic work offering alternative care for the chronically ill. It took tremendous faith to get there.
Visits to prisoners in Oran, Ghardaia and Bobo, making the link with their families is often the only window open to them on the outside in extreme situations where justice is sometimes not well done. Prayer and sharing the Word of God brings life to the prisoners, as to the sisters. It is a very strong experience of fraternity, to bring the humanity of Jesus to the prisoners who say: “even if you don’t bring us anything, just come” or even “I give thanks to God for this time in prison because God granted me the grace to know Jesus and to bear witness to him”.
We share Anna’s joy. At her uncle’s, she was treated as a housekeeper. The latter had decided to keep her to work at home in his service instead of sending her to school as he had promised her parents. Her brother came to the sisters in Kalabankura to ask for a place in the women’s training center for his sister, Anna. The family couldn’t pay for it, but Anna had to find accommodation. The brother went to ask at the boarding school. He came back sad because accommodation in a boarding school cost 65,000/month and the cost of training 45,000 FCFA/. Our community learned of the story of the girl and decided to help with the reduction of training costs. If we commit ourselves, God always comes to our rescue. The sisters spoke to a Muslim woman who agreed to take Anna into her home, as her daughter. Today Anna is a transformed and happy young woman. Her life has changed. She is learning crochet and sewing and she goes to the sisters’ house every day to ask for their blessing, according to Malian customs.
At the end of the day we shared the consolations received in our congregation by seeing God’s love for us, for all of humanity and all of creation. This was a confirmation of the timeliness of our charism, hope for the future, peace, gratitude for the wonders God has done, the belief that together we are strong. We wrote them on fruit-shaped sheets and fixed them on a tree prepared ahead of time.
Here are some consolations:
Trust: God is with us.
Hope for the future
A challenge: I wondered why so few young people are in formation; what testimony do I give
Our orientations themselves are a joy. 5 years ago, this was not the case. We adopted them. The orientations have become a reality.
Prayer life. Jesus our hope
Collaboration throughout the congregation; there is continuity in the Humility mission; reading the Word of God
Wonder at the work of God
After the sharing, our moderator added water, inviting us to water this tree, not to let it die. In other words, to continue the mission while putting our trust in God who can do everything.
At another time he told us a story. A man threw a party and he invited his friends. Everyone had to bring a bottle of wine. Everyone said to themselves, I’m going to bring a bottle of water, no one would know because I’m going to pour some into the big canary with the wine that the others are going to bring, it’s going to mix. But alas everyone had the same idea. When bringing the wine to the guests, they realized that it was water. Everyone had cheated because everyone had brought water.
The celebration and the quality of our mission and of our life depends on our commitment, on the commitment of each one, on the quality of life that we bring. We were invited to bring good wine to the chapter.
From Tuesday we worked on the different subjects: mission, community life, JPIC-ED and others in the same attitude of wonder and thanksgiving.
We closed our gathering with prayer, sending delegate-sisters for the General Chapter next year and our hymn to Mary: Sancta Maria. The closing Mass was celebrated by our brother, Father Didier Sawadogo, Provincial of the Missionaries of Africa.
From beginning to end the Church gave us the Word of God, as if chosen expressly for this event, from Mission Sunday to Saturday of St Simon and Jude, Apostles and the invitation with the word “for life is Christ, and death is gain.” Phil 1:18-26, and from the homily: we are called to incarnate Christ so that it is He who acts in us. He accomplishes the works through our whole being: intelligence, will, the body with its strengths and its weaknesses.
After the chapter, on October 30, several of us went to church to pray and we spent the morning with the parishioners who celebrated the anniversary of the baptism of the parish choir; a good opportunity for mission-vocation-animation.
We are grateful to our MAfr. Brothers who accompanied us during the retreat and the Pre-capitular Chapter, for their availability, welcome and spirit of collaboration.
Let us be guided by the Holy Spirit who gives life. May our joy of being disciples and apostles of Christ radiate around us.