From our sister Fides Mbabarempore, in the Bobo Dioulasso Community.
I would like to share with you an experience that touched me deeply and awakened in me a call to renew my relationship with the Virgin Mary, and what she is for me, for the Church and for us as MSOLA. This sharing is very much in line with AMV, another way of living it in and around us.
On the eve of this year’s solemnity of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, the women’s association of our parish of St Vincent de Paul in Bobo-Dioulasso, in Burkina Faso had organized a rosary prayer.
The procession began close to our community carrying the statue of the Virgin Mary towards the grotto in front of our church. As a community, we were all present, women among women and also as Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Africa. We carried lit candles, which we later placed in front of the statue of the Virgin Mary, because it was also the joy of celebrating 20 years since the existence of this parish grotto.
What was important for me in this prayer of the rosary was the way in which we integrated our prayers and requests into the rosary asking the Virgin Mary to intercede for us, our families, our Christian communities, our country in search of peace and social cohesion as well as peace for the whole world. As MSOLA, this spoke to me in the sense that we are Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Africa and our Constitutions remind us that
From its origins, the Congregation has placed itself under the protection of Our Lady of Africa. For us, Mary is the one who believed and collaborated in redemption. As in the past with the apostles, she is present wherever the Church is being built (Const. n. 4).
As a congregation, we bear the name of OUR LADY OF AFRICA and that makes us very proud.
Through the songs, we were reminded that Mary is there to support us and welcome our prayers and offer them to her son. I realize that the rosary is the simplest prayer and is often much loved by simple people, but at the same time it is a very powerful prayer in our Catholic faith through which we receive many graces.
In his thoughts, our founder Cardinal Lavigerie said:
I am convinced, and always have been, that I have been able to do no good except through the intercession and special protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary. I believe that the Missionaries will never do anything without her help.
I think these women in our parish have understood that through Mary, they can present all their worries and concerns to the Lord, and that was a lesson for me because we always have particular intentions as individuals, communities, entities and congregations. Who do I turn to? Let’s turn to Our Lady of Africa, who was very present when our founder had doubts about the future of our congregation.
During the procession, there was prayer, dancing with Marian hymns and time to express our particular intentions. The road was reserved for us, cars and motorbikes were not allowed to pass and the locals were on the side of the road admiring the crowd expressing their faith and devotion to the Virgin Mary. Isn’t this a kind of evangelization? That’s my conviction.
In the crowd, the vast majority were women from the parish in Legion of Mary uniforms, men, consecrated persons, young people in training, young girls and boys and children. It was also a moment of prayer for peace, especially in our Sahel region.
As MSOLA, we are under the protection of the Virgin Mary, and in our history, she occupies a most important place, especially during the time of doubt about the future of our congregation. Let us therefore learn from Mother Marie Salomé who knew how to ask for her intercession and commit herself in case the congregation would continue to exist. Blessed be the name of the Lord, we are all here today! The congregation lives and will live on!
At the end of the procession, there was the word of God followed by a homily given by our parish priest Abbé Jean Gabriel Damiba. It was important to help us make the link between Mary’s place in the Church and her participation in the mystery of salvation, because there is sometimes a danger of stopping with Mary and forgetting that she accompanies us towards her son Jesus.
In her circular letter no. 12, Mother Marie Salomé tells us:
Let us turn to this good Mother with complete confidence. God has entrusted his treasures to her and all graces come to us through her hands.
This confirms to me how truly fortunate we are as Catholics and as MSOLA to have her as our mother. We have privileges at our disposal, let us renew our relationship with Mary Our Lady of Africa, she is present for us as she always was for the apostles.
Our constitutions also remind us that
the recitation of the rosary, a tradition of the congregation, is a privileged means of meditating on the mysteries of the life of Christ in union with Mary. (Const. n. 52).
I believe that this prayer, which has guided our sisters since the beginning, is still a means for us today in our communities. It is the prayer that also links us with the Christian community and also one of the means of reaching out to youth. Let us unite with the Muslim women of some places who know well that Mary intercedes on their behalf.
May Mary Our Lady of Africa continue to carry us and to intercede for missionary vocations in the Church and especially in our congregation. Amen!