55 years; Project manager / Social worker; Democratic Republic of the Congo
Institute of Our Lady of Schoenstatt
In my work, God brings me into contact with a diverse group of women, especially the most vulnerable: women with disabilities, older women, widows and orphans. Although I am their mentor, I learn a lot from them and I thank God for what they do for the life of our local church.
Here I would like to report on my experience with about 900 women who are organized in 75 solidarity groups. Despite the difficult socio-economic conditions, they understand that each of them has something to contribute towards buiding up the Church – the family of God.
I am particularly touched by the voluntary work that these women do among the sick in their base communities. They organize themselves to visit the sick and to accompany the dying. They also prepare people for the sacraments and bring the Eucharist to the sick.
Like Martha and Mary, close to Jesus, their Master, these women feel a very strong inner urge to help. Their willingness to serve goes so far that they forget that their own health is not indestructible. Yes, love takes away fear. This is a special grace that God grants to us women.
When I was discussing the vocation of women in the Church with a stranger on the bus in 1994, a fellow traveler told me about the Schoenstatt Movement; that it would help me to understand more about the calling of women. And he gave me a little book entitled “Novena with Father Kentenich”. When I got off the bus, he told me that he didn’t know much about this movement himself, but that he was edified by reading some of the movement’s books that portrayed the Marian and priestly woman well. Finally he introduced himself to me; he said he was a diocesan priest.
On this trip I had a personal experience with the founder of the Schoenstatt Movement through the novena prayer in the little book. To understand the richness of this novena, I meditated and prayed for nine weeks instead of nine days. I didn’t know then that this would be the beginning of my spiritual journey in the Schoenstatt Movement and that one day, by the grace of God, I would belong to the Institute of Our Lady of Schoenstatt. I am happy to share this experience of a personal encounter with God through his servant, Father Joseph Kentenich.
1. From my professional experience with women in my country, I know that women – especially in rural areas – can become obstacles to their own development if they are under the influence of traditional and conventional customs that still keep women in the background. Hence the need to promote an education based on Christian values among women.
2. The African Church recognizes the powerful role of women. But women are excluded from the decision making circle.
3. From my experience with orphans, I have seen that they have very fond memories of their mothers and that they hold onto what they have learned from their mothers. So the big challenge is: “Life is born of woman, and it is her task to pass on the seeds that no one can steal.”
My fight for women is to contribute to an inclusive development based on three pillars: participation, non-discrimination and access to information. Hence the need to include in our apostolate the literacy of women, the empowerment of women in leadership positions, and the moral and intellectual education of young girls. At the same time, support should be given to development projects that include women at risk.