One Sunday returning from celebrating Mass in three different locations in the Diocese of Musoma, Tanzania, I was happy to park my motorcycle. Shortly afterward, however, someone came to report that an elderly woman was gravely ill in her village and asked that I come for the sacrament of the sick.
Gathering my sick call set and the Eucharist, I got back on my motorcycle. I found the sick woman lying on a mat outside a noisy traditional hut that had been turned into a beer drinking parlor. After visiting with the woman for several minutes, I asked if she had been baptized. She mumbled, “Yes.” I anointed her, and then asked if she had made her first Communion. She seemed to gather all of her strength and said, “No.”
I sat back and grumbled about the carelessness of my pastoral predecessors who ministered in the parish before me. I then leaned over and asked the weary woman, “Who baptized you?”
Very faintly she replied, “You did.”
John Conway, M.M.
Among my cherished memories from 24 years in mission with the Maryknoll Lay Missioners have been the many courageous women I have encountered in my ministry with women’s groups working to improve their lives and communities in the face of very difficult situations. Mariana is one of those women. She shared the following testimony at the last meeting of a support group for domestic violence survivors that I facilitated in São Paulo, Brazil: “Violence begets violence. My second husband grew up constantly being beaten by his father. In our family whenever there was a problem or a stressful situation, all he knew was to hit. I want to break that cycle. When I am upset with my son about something, I talk to him, send him to his room, or start taking away privileges. I need to be an example to him of someone who is strong but doesn’t hit.” It has been an honor for me to journey with many “Marianas” in Brazil.
Kathleen Bond, MKLM
As a foreigner in a mission country, I feel privileged for the opportunity to learn new ways of doing things in a new place. It frees me from the cultural aspect of doing things exactly as they have always been in my culture of origin, which is Tanzania.
When I made my final vows as a Maryknoll sister, I invited many of the people I worked with in my mission site of Brazil. A good number of them were not Catholic and therefore I arranged the celebration of final vows in a way that all the invited guests would feel welcomed. Afterward several of my Brazilian guests told me how much they liked the way I celebrated my final vows in a Tanzanian style. “We really felt welcomed and included,” they said. Then my own brother from Tanzania, who was also at the celebration, told me that he liked the celebration of the final vows because I had incorporated a Brazilian style.
I didn’t tell any of them that the celebration was intended to include everyone who was invited, but inside of me I rejoiced that I am no longer a typical Tanzanian and at the same time I am not completely a Brazilian. I am a missioner who asks for the grace to bring the Good News of life, love and inclusion to all.
Efu Nyaki, M.M.
The March/April issue of Maryknoll magazine contained a Missioner Tale that was excerpted from a longer article I had written a few years ago about a women’s group I was working with in Haiti. The group had been able to purchase land to grow vegetables through donations from U.S. friends and benefactors, but the women were still dreaming of digging a well to have water readily available.
I am happy to report that because of the continued generosity of U.S. donors, we were able to dig not only one well but five. We Maryknoll sisters are so grateful to all the people who gave us the funding to achieve the dream of the women we served in Cuvier village and four other villages as well.
Susan Nchubiri, M.M.