Sr AnnaChiara, OCSO
Monastery of Our Lady of Mvanda,
Democratic Republic of Congo

In the Service of the Church and the World

If the seminaries and the noviciates of Congregations of the apostolic life have the reputation of being well filled in Central Africa, this cannot be said for the contemplative life. Several factors explain this, and notably the dimension of silence, solitude and separation from the family and enclosure. But first of all let us look at the beauty of this life as it is espoused by those who have the courage to commit themselves to it.

To begin with, it must be realized that, without losing anything of the Benedictine gravitas, our African brothers and sisters bring a touch of joy which inspires the life of the community. The same may be said of the care for the poor which remains lively in the heart of the community.

I am struck by the good will of the young people who present themselves to discover our way of life. If they are well looked after, they are capable of entering into our way of life with fervour and seriousness. Nevertheless, they have a pressing need for formation, both human and spiritual. On this subject, thanks to the support of the AIM, for several years we have been organising sessions of theological and spiritual formation which are enjoying increasing success. It comes as no surprise that the courses linked to Sacred Scripture and Anthropology are most popular, so great is the desire for self-knowledge in the light of God.

MvandaIt is often said, to explain the wealth of the Congolese soil and subsoil that during the creation, God rested here and spread on the ground of Central Africa the treasures he still had. In any case I am convinced that these treasures really are present here, in the hearts of our brothers and sisters. Today it is our privilege, with the tools of the gospel and with loving patience, to co-operate in the opening and spreading of a monastic life which, without losing anything of its authenticity, will receive from Africa a particularly joyful and generous colouring. For all that, there is no question of diluting the demands of a genuine monasticism, but rather of dusting off secondary aspects which often take too important a place in our monasteries.

A joy to share is two solemn professions in the monastery of the Emmanuel at Kazanza, Brothers Cyril and Noel, celebrated on the Feast of the Holy Trinity. The community has a young face and continues the work of taking root begun a little more than 50 years ago.