The monks and nuns of the Trappist order live a strict, enclosed life of prayer and penance. They are particularly known for spending the majority of their time in silence, with ears for God alone. The order includes both a male and a female branch, though their lifestyle is to a large extent identical.
The female branch of the order has around 70 convents throughout the world, and there are Trappist nuns to be found in the Democratic Republic of the Congo also. There are 21 sisters living in the east of the country in Murhesa, close to the frontier with Rwanda, in the region of South Kivu. For some years now this region has been the theatre of some of the bloodiest conflicts in recent African history, and for much of the population the presence of the Catholic Church is their sole source of hope. Priests and religious sisters alike are bearing faithful witness to Christ here, sometimes even to the shedding of their blood.
The Trappist convent here has been no exception and has been sorely tried by the warfare, insecurity, burglaries and natural disasters. Indeed, in December 2009 one of their sisters was even murdered.
(A Catholic Nun from the Trappist Monastery of Murhesa with a batch of homemade yoghurt © Aid to the Church in Need)
Yet despite all these difficulties and trials, their community, which has been here for some 60 years, continues to enjoy numerous vocations and there is a constant trickle of young women knocking on their door because they wish to follow Christ.
It is a general principle of the Rule of the Order that the sisters should live by the work of their hands, and hitherto they have tried various different ways of supporting themselves. They produce yoghurt and ice cream, originally intended above all for sale to the UN troops stationed in the locality, and in addition they have endeavoured to rear chickens and rabbits and also keep bees. But their efforts have not been altogether crowned with success. The principal problem was that the convent did not have the necessary facilities and working premises. They did begin in 1994 to enlarge the convent and build a separate building for this purpose, but the war put an end to this enterprise.
Now, after more than 20 years, the sisters have turned to the Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) for help. Thanks to the generosity of our benefactors, we did not have to disappoint them and were able to give a total of $63,000. Now the sisters are able to set up a bakery and a candle making workshop and also produce soap and honey as a means of supporting their life and ministry. They express their heartfelt thanks to all our benefactors and promise to pray for everyone who has helped them.
The vital work of Catholic charities like Aid to the Church In Need provide a lifeline to the Church wherever she is poor, persecuted or threatened. Please help our work by donating online or send your donation to Aid to the Church in Need, PO Box 7246 Baulkham Hills NSW 2153. Ph: (02) 9679-1929