Mother Florença Kalumbo Raimondo, OCSO,
Abbess of Huambo, Angola

Angola1Our community, whose patron is the Virgin Mary under the title of Nasoma Y’Ombembwa (Queen of Peace), came into existence in 1978, immediately after the beginning of the armed conflict between different factions which were disputing the government of the country after the Protuguese were forced to return to their own country. In the course of the years which followed. the war situation increased in violence; certain factions withdrew and the most active belligerents remained, the MPLA and the UNITA. The difficulties were enormous; lack of food and of work, danger on the road, danger anywhere outside and even within the house because of bombardment. All this aroused in us a community consciousness, doubling the efforts for greater unity among us, sharing the difficulties and deciding together to keep going, practising charity towards one another. We had the occasion to receive into the house where we live many refugees and their families, seeking protection to survive. All this was done with the advice and consent of all, according to the Rule of St Benedict.

Angola2We must therefore recognize that, despite the great evil which war represents for all, it was for us an occasion to deepen one of the essential points of our Rule for community life: the importance of working together, of fraternity and of communion. This means taking all decisions together, listening to all the members, because the Spirit can reveal the best course of action even to the youngest (Chapter 3). This does not mean that we have overcome all difficulties of relationship, but that we have learnt to relativize certain personal ideas and to discern what is most urgent and useful for all, and that we understand the need for daily conversion to the values of mutual welcome of the guests and the poor who are always numerous in our country.

In order to put conversio monastica (a monastic way of life) into practice

• We hold revision of life as a valuable instrument to stimulate us mutually.

• On important occasions, or times of strength, we hold generational meetings, and this gives us a real vision of community.

• We encourage meetings between sisters, always in view of improving our fraternal relationships in charity.

Angola4There is always someone to help a sister who has any sort of need, so that we can recognize that, despite everything, a real charity exists in our community. According to instructions of St Benedict we pay special attention to the sick and aged sisters, which is also a value of our Angolan culture. More than one sister attests that living in community is a precious asset.

During these 33 years we have also helped the poorest families of our sisters and any who are in need.