All the Missionaries of Africa – Sisters, Fathers and Brothers – throughout the world were celebrating the feast of the Immaculate Conception of our Lady on Wednesday the 8th of December. However, in Rome, the celebration was grandiose, as three confreres (and not the least) were celebrating their 25-year jubilee of oaths and a White Sister her 25-year jubilee of vows. Fathers Stan Lubungo, Steven Ofonikot and Stéphane Joulain, for the confreres and Sister Maria-Carmen Ocón Moreno, who is in the General Council of the MSOLA. The mass was very well attended by all the confreres and the White Sisters present in Rome, as well as the elder sister of Sr Maria-Carmen and her family. Our confrere, Bishop Claude Rault, happened to be passing through Rome, and so the ceremony took another level of solemnity. During the celebration, each of the four jubilarians gave a testimony and confirmed their intention to carry on the Mission of Christ to the African World.
I am grateful for the last 25 years of my missionary life. During that time, I have been confronted to the suffering of people living in difficult situations, the Palestinian and Israeli populations, the migrants in France and the victims of sexual abuse, and even more in Canada and Rome. What I’ve received is the grace to see that even in the darkest places of human sufferings, there is always a little flame of God’s presence which is burning, ready to enflame each one of us.
I thank God for the gift of the past 25 years of staying focused and glued to the one who calls me. Seeing him in the people he sends me – the HIV victims in Bamako, the English-speaking prisoners, in San and Bamako, representing the beautiful women on the street, in the courts and police stations, teaching children to write and read the Bambara language… Like in this beautiful song Amazing Grace, I say: “This grace that brought me safe thus far and grace will lead me on”.
My 25 years of missionary life have been characterised by encounter and fraternity first from within the Society, through the members of the different communities I have lived in but also with the different people the mission has allowed me to come in contact with. Living in and working among international and intercultural communities has been a very enriching experience. I pray and hope that the many people I have met wherever I have been will remember something of an apostle of Jesus in me.
My soul continues to glorifies You Lord 25 years later…
My soul proclaims today the greatness of God,
of the Living God.
My spirit rejoices in Jesus, the Emmanuel,
Your human face.
Because you have visited me in my emptiness,
penetrating my inner-self, gently,
like the rain falling into the earth.
Because you have always looked at me with tenderness,
lifting me up of my nothingness.
Anointing me with fragrances of
joy, simplicity and fulness of life.
Because with the strength of your transforming energy
You have done in me marvellous things;
by allowing me to give and share
of what I even did not think I had.
By receiving even from where apparently there was nothing.
By stretching my heart to the ends of your Creation.
Today, together with all those who have preceded me,
together with all those who have shared with me
these 25 years of my life as Missionary Sister of Our Lady of Africa,
I can proclaim Your fidelity, Your unconditional love
for each one of Your creatures.
Thank you for in Your Immensity
You chose to make Yourself
Into our human size.
Maria-Carmen Ocón Moreno