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Angola Mission: A Dream Became True

Sr. Silvia C. do Amaral, SMIC

A very moving memory came to my mind when I arrived in Angola this year. I remembered that Sr. Veronica Lee, as soon as she entered the house of our sisters, in 2013, she said: "Africa entered my life too late." I agree with her. For some of us Angola Mission came too late, but for the congregation, it is a "kairos", the time of God's grace. I think that Angola Mission is a SMIC dream that became true. I still remember our discussions about a new beginning in terms of mission during events we took part when we celebrated 100 years of history. I can say that our mission in Angola is just the new beginning we dreamed about because of some elements that from my understanding were clearly present in Santarém, in 1910.

The first element is poverty. The reality of poverty that the population is submitted in Malange is something that breaks our hearts. When I looked to those kids, some of them with exposed wounds and wearing old chothes, and paid attention to their way of looking at us, I could not close my heart and turn my face aside. I let them move the best side of myself in terms of compassion and capacity of becoming a better human being. I think this was the feeling that moved Bishop Bahlmann, Mother Immaculada and the group of Sisters when they arrived in Santarém. Experiencing that extreme poverty, I recalled a prayer from Gandhi that inspires me very much: "I only ask God do not let me be indifferent to my brothers and sisters that in poverty are living."

The second element is a simple lifestyle. The sisters that embrace Angola Mission must make an option for a very simple lifestyle. There is no other way of living among the poor. I also could see the examples of other consecrated men and women from other congregations living there. This is the Gospel way and also the inspiration that moved our founders at the beginning in Santarém. Our priorities are not ourselves, but those to whom we are sent to serve.

The third element is to be always ready to serve. Readiness is something that demands a great deal from those who freely get themselves immersed in a reality like Malange. It is impossible to close the arms or sleep quietly when you hear that someone is dying or when someone knocks the door with the body burning in high fever. How to close the ears when someone asks for a glass of water or when a child calls your name? It is simply impossible for those who have a heart of flesh. I saw how our sisters quickly got up and responded to the needs of people who looked for some help in different areas. Was not this kind of situation that characterized the first years of the young community in Santarém?

Summing up, to serve in Angola as a missionary, we need to make a clear option to open ourselves to face extreme poverty, to embrace a simple lifestyle and to exercise our readiness to serve those who can not wait. They challenge us to give priority to themselves. Because of the urgency of the poor, who cry out for justice, dignity and life in abundance, we need to learn how to deal with our cultural differences as SMIC, in order to live out our beautiful and exciting, but also challenging and difficult charism. This dream that inspired so many sisters before us must continue throughout history.

Sr. Marivalda ready to celebrate the Word of God in a village with local leaders.

Children from Tamba, the village where the school is located.

Students working together to clean the school. Their parents also did their piece.

Sr. Marivalda preparing the motorcycle to go to work

Sr. Marta Milanez working together with the students.

Sr. Johana helping the sick people and providing medicine in a village

Sr. Marivalda giving instructions to the students about the work

Sisters Marivalda, Cecilia and Gizele working with the kids.

Sr. Silvia visiting Paulina, the girl holding the child. She lives in the neighborhood and is a possible candidate

Sr. Marivalda giving Holy Communion to a lady who is a hundred years old.

Providing a contemplative compassionate presence to all, especially the most needy.