God is Good Everywhere
In Kenya a little dialogue happens after the initial “good morning” when one enters the classroom: Teacher: “God is good.” Girls: “All the time.” Teacher: “All the time?” Girls: “God is good all the time because that is his nature. WoW!” You can imagine the Wow! from the little ones especially. This can be said by Christian or Muslim pupils and carries a wonderful positive message.
God is good. These last few years have given me a great privilege…since 2012 I have visited and worked with our sisters in the provinces of Hungary, Slovakia, Romania, Korea, Zimbabwe (CJ) and India (IBVM and CJ) and now Eastern Africa (IBVM), not to mention living in Manila! That is an amazing list for someone who was warned by younger members of her family when she entered that she would never be able to travel! It has been an opportunity to experience “creating the oneness that moves us across borders” in a very special way. It has felt God-given because somehow it happens rather than being planned by me. At the core of it is the sense of “at homeness” in so many places, with so many women from varied cultures. The welcome, the energy that comes from exploring together our shared deep story and charism, the joy and freedom that new members exhibit and treasure, the variety of ministries that are making a difference to many-all these give hope.
Of course, each province has its own cultures and issues. Many questions arise about what we take for granted and what they take for granted, but in such short forays, one can only ponder and realise that the story, the assumptions and the relationships are more complex than one will ever grasp. However, the constant message that is coming through many religious congregations is that an important part of our call is to witness to community in the midst of difference- living together interculturally, accepting, exploring and being enriched by difference, and gradually learning not to judge. Maybe showing that such community is possible is “where the need is greatest”. To live it well, we will need to draw our strength from the freshness of the Gospel.
The older sisters in Kenya remembered Marie Kelly and Elizabeth Johnson with gratitude. We were taken to visit places I have read about since the novitiate: Limuru, Msongari, Mombasa. The 50 sisters who came together for the weekend, and the novices and candidates I met later in the week, come from Kenya, Ethiopia, Ghana, Tanzania, Uganda and Congo- and maybe Rwanda. In various centres, like Ephigenia’s, they spoke with gratitude of other provinces which have helped, through MWI and other ways, to open new possibilities for women, for students, for sisters.
Words by: Chris Burke ibvm