This year, the Immaculate Conception Sisters of Ouagadougou (SICO) celebrated their hundred-year jubilee.
With joy, Sr. Furaha Kamanyula Jeannette shares with us her experience of the colloquium, held from February 8 to 11, during these celebrations in Ouagadougou.
I was amazed and edified by the way the colloquium was organized; the SICO sisters really took time to prepare for this event.
Already in October, I received a phone call from Sister Pascaline, SIC whom I did not know. To my great surprise, she sent me a message from Mother Pauline, the mother general, who asked for a service. Astonished and surprised I asked her what this service was. She answered me that it was a question of preparing a conference on the occasion of their jubilee of 100 years of foundation.
I then asked Sister Pascaline many questions, telling her that I was in Bobo-Dioulasso in the novitiate, and that the Mother General had perhaps taken the wrong name. I told her that our sisters were at the cathedral in Ouaga and that one of the leaders lived in Saint Julien. I did not want to risk a mistake and I thought that my sisters, especially the leaders, would have warned me of such a request.
Sister Pascaline explained to me that the Mother General had chosen me, and that she knew that I lived in Bobo. Hearing this answer, I accepted. Indeed, I had met Mother Pauline at the opening of the General Chapter of the Annunciation Sisters of Bobo SAB and I had had the opportunity to talk a little with her during the feast. I hadn’t had any contact with her since.
The next day, Sister Pascaline sent me the theme of the conference to be prepared: The spiritual and missionary heritage of the Missionaries of Africa and the Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Africa.
The following points needed to be developed:
How the Missionaries of Africa and the Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Africa were and still are today, the source which gave birth to this Institute, irrigated it and continue to make it live?
How do we, fathers and sisters (M.Afr and MSOLA), perceive the appropriation, the adaptation of this heritage by the SIC?
Not knowing where to start, I spoke to our sister leaders about the topic. Sister Carmen Sammut sent me the conference she had given to the superiors general, during the meeting of the Family of Our Lady of Africa in Tanzania, in 2018. She also suggested that I speak to Sr. Gisela, the archivist who also helped me a lot by sending me documents on the foundation of the SICO sisters. These two sources and the “Lavigerie Document” (1991) helped me prepare my conference.
Along with the theme of the conference, I also received the program of the themes that would be covered and the names of the speakers. I realized that I was programmed with Father Didier, Provincial of the Missionaries of Africa in West Africa. I contacted him and he told me that Fr. Alain Fontaine was preparing the conference. So I worked with Father Alain Fontaine and together we presented our work, which became a joint conference.
I wondered how I was going to go about it because it was the first time for me to give a conference in front of a large assembly. As the date of the colloquium approached, I felt nervous because I did not know how I was going to manage it. Listening to the feeling of worry that inhabited me, I chose to trust myself and to leave everything in the hands of God. When the day came, I felt a peace and confidence that reassured me. They told me: “Jesus is there, Cardinal Lavigerie and Mother Salomé will support you and be proud of you”. With this assurance, I was able to calm down and present my text quietly.
I had the joy of discovering “between the lines” the personality of our MSOLA Sister Delphine, who was in Burkina for fifty years and died in Ouagadougou. In the photo, she gives the impression of having been a joyful, fulfilled sister and a woman of faith. I explained to the SIC sisters that it was thanks to her tenacity, her enthusiasm that she had been able to convince Bishop Thévenoud. And Sister Bernadette, former SIC mother general, concluded my talk by saying that behind a great man there is a great woman. And behind Monseigneur Thévenoud, there was a great woman: Sister Delphine, MSOLA!
At the end of my presentation, I felt great joy, pride and gratitude for having shared the role that our older sisters played in the founding of SICO. I was also well supported by the presence of our sisters from Ouagadougou who came in large numbers to the three-day colloquium.
Some passages from the conference:
“We were brought to the foundation of the ‘black’ sisters by the force of things and circumstances. If we had been numerous in community, as white sisters, we would not have thought of it,” wrote Sister André du Sacré-Coeur.
“We, Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Africa, perceive the appropriation and adaptation of our patrimony by the SIC as an updating and confirmation of the desire of our founder, Cardinal Lavigerie. Feelings of pride, joy, recognition, satisfaction inhabit us as we see you develop.
As we are diminishing in number and in “works,” many of the apostolic works that we have initiated are now managed by you. We understood well the spirituality of John the Baptist when he said: “May he increase and I decrease”.