Four decades after the last female congregation left Mozambique because of anti-Catholic hostility following independence from Portugal, a religious Sister shared their joy at returning to the African country.
Sister Mirian dos Santos told Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) how moved she was by the warm welcome the Little Sisters of Mary Immaculate received on their arrival to Dómuè in Tete Diocese, north-east Mozambique.
Sister dos Santos said: “Seeing how much the people were waiting for our presence, after 40 years without consecrated women religious, exceeded our expectations.
“It was a very simple, but very generous welcome.”
Bishop Diamantino Antunes of Tete said that the arrival of the Sisters was providential.
He added: “This is something we have wanted for a long time, even dreamed of.
“Now, it has finally happened.”
Sister dos Santos and three other members of the congregation will be carrying out pastoral work, such as catechesis, for more than 100 community leaders.
Sister Rita Nascimento explained: “We are here to serve in whatever way we can, and we are eager to bring the good news and the joy of the Gospel to these simple people who thirst for God.
“We count on everybody’s prayer and support.”
Sister dos Santos said that her congregation will likely need help, including a vehicle, “to be able to reach the more distant communities.
“We know that this will be difficult work, but we have faith in God, and we are aware that this is his mission, and that we are just fragile instruments in his hands.”
She asked for everyone’s prayers for the success of this new mission.
ACN previously supported 20 projects in Tete Diocese over the past five years, which Bishop Antunes said were very important.
The bishop explained: “ACN helps in many ways: in the formation of seminarians, supporting the restoration of infrastructure, building chapels, purchasing vehicles and, very recently, in the purchase of equipment for our diocesan radio station, so that we can improve our broadcasts.”
He added: “Thank you to all the benefactors, and to all those who make the mission of ACN possible.”
With thanks to Paulo Aido