Sister Mirian dos Santos was stunned and moved by the welcome she and the other members of the Little Missionaries of Mary Immaculate received from the population of Dómuè, in the Diocese of Tete, in the northeast of Mozambique. The people took to the streets in celebration.
This enthusiasm must be read in light of the fact that the last female congregation left this region due to the anti-Catholic hostility that followed independence from Portugal in 1975, as well as the subsequent brutal civil war, making the return of these sisters, on 10 May, even more significant.
Bishop Diamantino Antunes, of Tete, says that the arrival of the sisters is providential. “This is something we have wanted for a long time, even dreamed of. Now, it has finally happened”, he said.
In a message sent to the Portuguese office of the international foundation Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), Sister Mirian could barely hide her emotion. “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.”
Besides Sister Mirian, the community is formed by Sisters Ana Cláudia Melo and Rita Nascimento, as well as the postulant Agnélia Porto. They have been charged with carrying out pastoral work, such as catechesis and formation, for over 100 community leaders, some of whom are based very far away.
“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 Rita Nascimento explains.
There is much poverty in Dómuè, and the sisters have not even been able to take stock of the more urgent needs, but they have already realised that they are going to need help. “The parish is poor and has over 100 communities. We need a vehicle, for example, 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”, says Sister Mirian, who is originally from Brazil. In her message to ACN, she asks for everyone's prayers for the success of this new mission.
The presence of the sisters in this region of Mozambique is a sign of the importance of international aid to keep the work and mission of the Church alive. Even though Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) does not yet directly help the Little Missionaries, it has supported 20 projects in Tete over the past five years, which the bishop says are very important. "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 says, adding: “thank you to all the benefactors, and to all those who make the mission of Aid to the Church in Need possible”.
- By Paulo Aido
Featured Image: Return of a small group of sisters to the Mission of Dómuè. Copyright: Aid to the Church in Need.