Although late, we join you as a group of sisters of Africa-Madagascar with 5 to 10 years lived since Perpetual Vows to share with you our experience of the session from 17 to 19 December 2022.
These three days were days of blessings which gave us the opportunity to deepen our identity as African and Malagasy Religious of the Assumption.
After the opening prayer, there was the presentation of the participants by Provinces and Regions followed by the sharing of the reflections of each sessionist on her experience since the day of her perpetual vows. This sharing was very rich in discoveries and mutual knowledge through our Magnificats and psalm 50. There we were able to bring out certain elements of our experiences such as the presence of God, his freedom of action in each of our lives and the richness of our cultures for our consecrated life. An atmosphere of openness, listening and deep communion marked us.
On the second day, we had the joy of beginning the day with Sr. Rekha who commented on the Prologue of the Rule of Life which summarizes the life of a Religious of the Assumption as a woman rooted in the experience of God with the mystery of the Incarnation, the basis of our spirituality, which makes us visible signs of the presence of God in the world. She called us to be passionate about our Assumption culture and our African and Malagasy culture. She spoke to us about goodness and joyful release. She invited us to work so that goodness really becomes part of us. She insisted that goodness should not be controlled or affected by the outside. Nor is it a quality that is acquired forever. If I am good today, it is not a guarantee that tomorrow I will be good, I have to work on it daily.
After her talk, we shared in the assembly the work on the African soul and the way in which this spirituality supports the living out of our Christian faith and of our life as a religious of the Assumption.
Some elements of our sharing:
The African soul is marked by the spirituality of the UBUNTU which alludes to the communal being. The human person is built within a community process. We do not say 'I think, therefore I am', but rather 'I am because we are'. It is a question of giving life to each other, of generating each other. In the African tradition, true humanity involves begetting each other. The African soul is something dynamic.
African spirituality is a spirituality of life. Life in its purest form is only found in God. A human person is a being threatened by death. Life comes to us from God, African spirituality is a spirituality of liberation. Most of our rites are there to tame evil and to liberate from evil. We cannot ignore this. It is a biblical spirituality: the people of Israel first of all recognised their God as a liberating God.
African spirituality supports our life as Christians and as religious of the Assumption.
From their experiences, some older sisters have testified to the cultural riches but also to the limits when they are not at the service of life. Some of the basic elements of these African cultural riches that favour our being as Religious of the Assumption are: the sense of the sacred (shown by certain expressions such as IMANA in Rwandan culture, the supreme being, the creator, certain sayings...), the sense of community, the sense of sharing, the sense of family and fraternity, the joy of living.
Finally, Father Jean Paul Sagadou, an Assumptionist Father, took up the theme of identity, inviting us to explore it further because of the challenge that exists between what we say and what we really live as Africans, because being African is not a question of colour. The colour of the skin does not make the African soul. We need to be more aware of what we have to bring to the rest of the world. There is something to be dared in the sense of more.
The General Councillors who accompanied us, Sister Irene and Marthe Marie, expressed their joy at having shared this experience with us. They invited us to integrate our culture more to live our faith well. We need to give and sustain life as African women living our spirituality of the incarnation.
In closing we each expressed what the session brings to our lives and what we will bring to our community/province/region. Some of our expressions:
The conviction that I am freely called to love and serve.
Being rooted in my own culture, rooted in the Rule of Life.
The life-giving taste and desire to preserve and transmit African, Christian and Assumption values.
The awareness that I have the responsibility to transmit these values to the community and to the people I come into contact with.
We cannot finish this letter without expressing our sincere thanks to our Provincials and Regionals who prepared this session for us and who insisted on being present from beginning to end. They have sent us as sentinels of communion, sentinels of the celebration of the God of life, witnesses of the authentic African consecrated life, women on the road to the Lord.
Yes, dear sisters, from the fullness of the Lord we have received grace upon grace. We cannot tell you everything. But it is a joy for us to make you read this little sharing, and to have the opportunity to thank you. Thank you to the General Council, and to all our Provincials and Regionals who have given us this beautiful opportunity to stop, to re-read our lives in order to read God there. Blessed be God who has visited us and who has filled us with his wonders. Thank you also to our communities who gave us the time to live these days of meetings. May the Lord help us in our daily lives to live fully our identity as African Assumptionist sisters.
Sister Ignace Marie Léonie
For the whole group