News & Events…

Echoes from the daughters of Fr. Planque

Our Sisters who went to Calavi are back and they share with us some of their experiences.

Dear Sisters,

We would like to take this opportunity to thank you all  for  your unending prayers, encouragement, and most of all for spending time to share in our joys during this important period  of our lives.  Although you were not physically present we always felt your presence. 

Sisters, we would like to give you an idea of the happenings during our stay in Calavi.

 

                                                                                 

CHASTITY is not a giving but a becoming.  It is like a tightrope walker.  It is a balanced search between myself, others, and God.  The vow of Chastity helps the religious to build her life on the rock who is Christ, to be a person who agrees to her thirst for life and the capacity she has to receive and to give.

 

The Vow of OBEDIENCE.  By this vow, we freely choose to obey our superiors in accordance with the constitution of the Institute and in particular to accept, after dialogue with the authority, the mission assigned to us.  This vow helps us to make ourselves available and to render service.

 

We were highly honoured by the visit of the Superior General, Rev. Sr. Felicia Harry, who received our vows.  She was so happy to see the many young sisters gathered in Calavi. She gave us words of encouragement: (“the mission is not our own, but Christ’s own…”). We are very grateful for your presence and we say a big thank you, merci beaucoup.

 

LEADERSHIP can be defined as a function of knowing myself, having a vision that is well communicated, building trust among members and taking effective action to realize my own leadership potentials. There are four elements of leadership.

  • · MISSION: that is, your specific calling according to your gift.
  • · VISION: that is, the dream and ideal which leads you towards your goal.
  • · EQUIP: means training others to join you to complete the vision.
  • · TEAM: that is, mobilizing people to carry out the mission beyond personal vision.

Our leadership position is never earned by any merit of our own but always allotted to us by God.

FORGIVENESS derives its name from a Greek word to free, to let go of the bonds that imprison us. Forgiveness is a divine gift from God. 

Our concept of forgiveness:

  • · to forgive is not to forget
  • · to forgive is not to deny the offence
  • · to forgive is not to hand over to God

 

Forgiveness is a therapy which recreates relationship.  It’s a way to healing and non- violence. It is a spring- board for new life.  It is a way where I experience the mercy of God. It helps us to free ourselves from the oppression of the offender and the offence. It is the way that leads to holiness.

AFRICAE MUNUS (Apostolic exhortation) by Pope Benedict XVI. Rev Fr. Philip Kinkpon, a lecturer in John Paul II Institute and Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cotonou, took us through this exhortation. It is as a result of the Synod for Africa inviting Africans to rise up from “Hope to Action”. 

The Africans should put Christ at the centre of their realities through Reconciliation, Justice and Peace. Our attention was drawn to the place and role of African Women in the Church. 

It was realized that women are seen as courageous and have a sense of justice.  They are the ‘backbone’ of the local Church. Their numbers, their active presence and their organization are a great support for the Church’s apostolate. The Church counts on us to create a human ‘ecology’.

COMMUNITY LIFE

The origin of Community Life takes its root from the life of the Trinity “God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit”. It is a divine gift, a divine attraction. It is that way of life where members see themselves not only as “Consumers” but “Builders” who are responsible for each other’s growth; who are open and available to receive the giftedness of the other.

We went further to look at our intercultural living and some elements that help the various cultures to live unconditional love, allowing family-spirit, affirmation, thoughtfulness, consideration (language and gestures) and continual forgiveness.

As OLA’s everything should be at the service of evangelization.  Our complementarities and differences should not divide but unite us. Let us continue to pray for one another and be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ.

CONFLICTS

These are normal and are sources of maturity. We have all the qualities and talents to make life beautiful.  To maintain the connection with myself and other people, I have to develop the practice of self-empathy, (listening to myself, to what is alive in me here and now).  Empathetic listening makes us go beyond what the other person is saying to what she is experiencing:  ‘a heart to heart listening’.

Honest Self-Affirmation:  expressing really and truly what I am experiencing.

COMMUNITY DISCERNMENT

This is a search for the will of God, done with the participation of all, in reflection, with the aim of identifying the signs which indicate the direction in which the Spirit is leading us.

The goal is a search for the action that God, through the Spirit, is carrying out in us and in our community so as to understand and respond to his will. It is an instrument of consultation and helps the members to live co-responsibility.

JUSTICE, PEACE AND INTEGRITY OF CREATION

The diversity of Charisms that characterize the mission of different Institutes and Congregations, including their different forms of activities, constitutes one of the most important means to accomplish the mission of evangelization and the promotion of the human person that the Church seeks to accomplish in the world. The African continent is faced with different challenges such as Global warming, Exploitation of natural resources, Land grabbing, Trade agreement, Proliferation of small arms and Access to quality medicine. We are called upon in our own little ways to live justly, act peacefully and respect the creation God has entrusted to us.

We need each other and must understand each other’s role in combating modern slavery. Sr. Monica, who is working for the promotion of human dignity among women, sent us an account of her experiences in her work dealing with women-trafficking.   Afterwards,  Beatrice Houkpassi gave a testimony on her experience working with street children and how they are helped to leave the street to become responsible persons.

ON GOING - FORMATION

We never stop learning until we enter the grave. Ongoing formation is a series of paschal renewals of oneself in order to fan into flame the gift of God within us. It embodies all aspects of life and growth. It is a path of gradual identification with the attitude of Christ towards the Father.  It aims at transformation. Some of the means of ongoing formation in the Constitution include: Word of God, Events experienced in the light of the Gospel, Community life, etc. Ongoing formation is closely linked with time and there is a rhythm just as there is with breathing.

CHALLENGES OF GLOBALIZATION, RELIGIOUS LIFE AND NEW TECHNOLOGIES

Globalization is the development of the link between human beings, interdependence between humans, exchange of goods, activities and the political system. Economic globalization means the acceleration in exchange of goods and services... Some of the factors of globalization are: cultural aspects, sociological aspects, geographical aspects, migration, ecology, etc.

Challenges to religious life: Economy, exchange of material property, technology, information, pre-dominance of the English language and integration.

New Technologies form part of our daily lives and activities. The media has the potential to affect the world.  It gives us the opportunity to contribute and share with others.  It offers and directs access to Christian sources. The Church teaches about the positive use of technology. What quality time do l give to these tools? We looked at these questions in relation to the vows of poverty, obedience and chastity.

INTER-RELIGIOUS DIALOGUE

It is understood as a method and means of mutual knowledge and enrichment; for understanding and religious tolerance.  It is not geared towards conversion to religion but towards God’s kingdom.

In Christ, God calls all people to himself and he wishes to share with them the fullness of his love.  Dialogue that is open to other people of whatever religion, tribe or class, is something that expresses the Christian faith. We are to dialogue with all people of other religions so as to experience Christ among us, to meet Christ in them and be Christ to them.

 

We ended our session with the introduction to the Ignatian month.

 

As the saying goes, “all things end well for those who believe”.

We are very grateful to the Almighty God for his protection over us throughout the period and for his Spirit that has enlightened us. A big thank you also goes to all of you dear sisters for your support, prayers and assistance, most especially for keeping the apostolate going despite our absence. May God bless you richly. To the different facilitators, we say “merci beaucoup, que Dieu vous le rende au centuple”.

Yours in Christ

 

Veronique ANIBE and Mary AMOAKO

 

 

 

 


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Founded in 1876 by Fr. Augustine Planque SMA, the mission of the O.L.A. Sisters is to continue the work of evangelization which the Apostles received from the Lord. With the zeal for mission, O.L.A. Sisters arrived Nigeria in the year 1878 thus, becoming the first group of women Religious in Nigeria.
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