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The Joy of Religious Life

On the feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, with gratitude to God, we celebrated the Final Profession of our sisters, Sr. Eliasia Joseph, Sr. Gema Tarimo, Sr. Letsia Herman, Sr. Martha Felix, Sr. Pudensiana Melanio and the Silver Jubilee of our first Tanzanian sisters, Sr. Elionora Calist, Sr.Mariana Hai, Sr. Martha Ayaqoda, and Sr. Theresia Gurti. The celebration of holy Mass at Christ the King Parish, Siuyu, was presided over by Rt. Rev. Edward Mapunda, the Bishop of Singida. This was an historical event in Queen of Peace Province as we celebrated the first fruits of missionary activities in Tanzania. We are very grateful to God for the good work done by our pioneer sisters Sr. Mary McNulty, Sr. Stella Barelli, Sr. Hedwig Kaiser, Sr. Jucunda Kutsch and Sr. Rosemarie Steinbach who had the courage to start a mission in Tanzania in 1990.

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The Jubilee of our first sisters is a great blessing in our province and Congregation at large. We celebrate the gift of their vocation and their perseverance in their religious profession. Sr. Marie Claire Mukeshimana on behalf of the Superior General Sr. Josephina D’Souza, presented the Apostolic Blessings of the Holy Father Pope Francis to the sisters who made their final vows and to our Jubilarians. She also reminded the sisters that final profession and celebration of silver Jubilee is a sign of love and a call to make Jesus the centre of their lives. With this the sisters were highly encouraged to continue to deepen an intimate relationship with the Lord. To celebrate a Jubilee is to realize that God has been the centre of one’s life in service and responsibilities towards Him. It is to be grateful to God.

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In his homily, Bishop Edward Mapunda, emphasized that, it is the time to reflect on our call and struggle for holiness when we celebrate the Jubilee. It is through living religious life well that we struggle for perfection. In celebrating 25 years of religious life Bishop Mapunda invited the Jubilarians to review their commitment to the Lord and the ways in which they have succeeded in living the life of Poverty, Chastity and Obedience.

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He continued by saying that, these twenty-five years in religious life show that the sisters have overcome many challenges which strengthened their faith, since challenges are part of our religious life. Bishop Mapunda insisted that religious life is a life of sacrifice, and so with the desire to follow Jesus, the sisters should be able to leave everything behind in order to follow Him. It is in Jesus Christ that our call finds meaning, and from Him we draw our strength, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13). It is through the grace of God that the sisters managed to live their vocation in the last twenty-five years. He also insisted that in order to draw others to God, religious people should live and witness the joy of their life in Jesus Christ which is the Joy of the Gospel. Religious people should serve the Lord in happiness.

With the act of our self-giving love, as religious people, we have been entrusted by God with such a precious gift which we must hold with care and gratitude. It is not by our own strength that we become religious but through the grace of God. St. Paul reminds us by saying that; “we have this treasure in clay jars, so that may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us” (2 Cor 4:7). So, we are responsible in cherishing our vocation and taking good care of it. This includes taking care of our bodies which are the temple of the Holy Spirit.

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He said that; celebrating the Silver Jubilee and the Final Professions means a new beginning in religious life. The Bishop clarified that, the vowed life is for service in the Church, it is the work done through the Holy Spirit. The Religious life is a freely chosen life and a personal willingness to commit one’s life to the Lord, for the rest of their lives. Jesus is the foundation and core of religious life. We leave everything so that we can live in Christ Jesus. The Joy of religious life is found in living the vowed life and community life, in the community we strengthen and empower one another.

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Text and photos: Sr. Ernestina Patrick SAC

See also the Event Gallery.