Mr Jean Marc Noupieu and Mrs Virginie Houma, Associates of the Daughters of Jesus of North Cameroon, share with us the main points of their experience of the spiritual retreat with Sister Henriette Danet in December 2022. It was for them an intense moment of strengthening and spiritual renewal.
A diversity of horizons
The Associates of the Daughters of Jesus from five different parishes – Cathedral of Our Lady of the Apostles, Saint Mathias of Djalingo, Our Lady of the Presentation of Marza, Gada Mabanga, and Saint Paul of Mora – joined those of the parish of Saint André of Karna-Mbé for a three-day spiritual retreat at Karna-Mbé under the guidance of Sister Henriette Danet.
The first day
The first day’s programme included an introduction and meditation on the story of Job, the servant who was taken over by the devil to test him. Despite the influence of his wife and friends, he did not lose his faith. As a reward for clinging to the Lord even in the most difficult of trials, God restored him to his glory and to much more than he had previously.
The second day
The day began early with Lauds in the community chapel, followed by the presentation of one another in our workroom. Sr Henriette Danet who had come from France to Cameroon a few days earlier for the occasion emphasised two points in her intervention.
The baptism of Christ
With Sister’s screen projection, we did a little geography by discovering a part of the country of Christ, but especially the path he followed to proclaim the Good News. Sr Henriette lingered on the Jordan River where Christ was baptised by John the Baptist. After this baptism, the Spirit led Jesus into the desert where he was tempted by the devil.
After a time of personal meditation, the 14 Associates present divided into two groups to reflect In a workshop, on the desert experience of Christ and of themselves in daily life.
The fire of the origins
Sr Henriette edified us at length on “The fire of the origins”, reminding us that the Congregation of the Daughters of Jesus has been in existence for 188 years. “Daughters” of Jesus means servants of Jesus following the example of Martha and Mary Magdalene. Turning to page 12 of the Associates’ Charter, Sister Henriette pointed out that it refers to :
– the poor, the elderly, the sick.
– children or the disadvantaged, the voiceless, the excluded.
– the destitute, victims of injustice.
The charism of the Daughters of Jesus is lived rather than seen in the chiaroscuro of faith. It is a gift from God because a charism of the Congregation precedes, accompanies, or follows a movement. The charism is alive.
The image of St Francis of Assisi forgetting and abandoning his status as a rich man’s son to embrace a leper, or of Pope Francis leaving his altar to come and greet the sick, are all part of the same pattern.
“Born of the fire of love” (Rule of Life No. 2) means :
- caring, instructing, being with, coming to the aid of every distress, in a great simplicity of life.
- wanting to follow Jesus in his humanity, living the tenderness of God in Jesus.
- accompanying human beings, living in thanksgiving for the supreme gift of self, as lived by Jesus.
This beautiful day ended with the celebration of the Eucharist during which two Associates renewed their commitment, while the new Associates of Mora (Far North of Cameroon) committed themselves for the first time. The homily of the priest in the parish where the Associates are present was very edifying. He asked those concerned to make a real commitment to follow the Sisters of the Congregation.
The third day
We were now on the last day of our retreat. The teachings given by Sister Henriette on this day focused on the mystery of the body and blood of Christ, using as support a brief projection of a boy talking about the mystery of the Eucharist. We were all dazzled by the reflections of a boy who spoke of the mystery of the Eucharist as the greatest miracle of Jesus who transformed his body into bread and his blood into wine. The Body of Christ is the Church. We must become the good bread for the world, as seeds who have been put together, crushed, mixed with water, cooked in the fire of the Holy Spirit, and given as food.
From Samaritan to the woman of Samaria
Following the mystery of the Eucharist, she presented us with a picture of Jesus and the Samaritan woman of Samaria at the well. This painting shows us Christ on one side and the woman on the other. It is up to us to move, to leave our state of a woman of Samaria to go and sit with Jesus, to identify ourselves with him in order to shine through him.
A beautiful experience
In short, all of the Associates were happy with this beautiful experience. We appreciated the methodology, as the spiritual exercises proposed by the Sister were of great benefit to each of us This retreat allowed the Associates to have a personal experience with God through their relationship with Him and with the Congregation of the Daughters of Jesus.
We all left satisfied, wishing that this kind of activity could be repeated. We take this opportunity to express our gratitude to the Provincial, Sister Chrescence Beyala, to Sister Henriette, and to the whole Congregation for this memorable time spent during these three days. We thank you above all for this manifest will to walk together with the Associates on the paths of humanity.
All of us, Sisters and Associates, need to draw from the source of our origins in order to keep the flame of the Charism alive and to carry out our mission of humanisation and humanity with great dedication and dynamism.
Mr Jean Marc Noupieu and Mrs Virginie Houma,
Associates of the Daughters of Jesus, North Cameroon