A Family Celebration
While the Church was celebrating the solemnity of the Holy Family of Jesus, on December 26 last, the provincial community of the province Our Lady of Africa (AFC), represented by the six communities of Lubumbashi gathered to celebrate their identity as the religious family of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians.
The day started in the joy of Christmas through the warm greetings and the drawing of an "invisible friend". After that all gathered for the celebration of the Eucharist, at which Fr. Joachim Tshibangu, provincial of the Salesians of Don Bosco in Central Africa presided. In his comments on the readings of the day, Fr. Joachim highlighted some characteristics that are indispensable in order to be a true FMA: humility, generosity, and dedication to work, all of which were lived by our founders who succeed in rendering their mission efficacious. After Mass the whole provincial community moved to the hall where the rest of the programme took place. In her welcome, the provincial, Sr. Bernadette Chongo, presented her Christmas wishes to the Sisters. She then spoke of the objective of the work requested by the Institute. She gave indications for deepening the Constitutions and the three documents of the Institute's proper law in a unified way. Every community began to present, in a creative way, the five ideas that they judged most important. Then came the moment to respond to the three questions on each topic: How can we make the main ideas operative at personal and community level so that they can become a style of living? What openings do they offer for our community life and educational mission? What paths of conversion do they presuppose?
Both the ideas and the questions were very practical and showed that the Sisters had deepened the documents of the Institute well. After all this sharing, it was necessary also to share a meal in sisterly joy and simplicity. After a short break, the Sisters returned to the chapel for a celebration. A beautiful prayer, prepared by the provincial council and team, added more colour to the ceremonies of the day. It referred to the feast of the Holy Family and to the parable of the Good Samaritan. Like the Good Samaritan, the Sisters were invited to leave their security and go out to others, as Jesus did, leaving us his example. After the singing of the Magnificat, each community presented a symbol on which they based a prayer intention.
To conclude the day, the invisible friends drawn in the morning were revealed and there was an exchange of gifts. In the end, the Sisters went home to their own communities happy to redefine their identity and ready to be converted in order to start out on a new path.