Learning the Charism

Novices are sent on practical apostolic training periods where they learn on the spot to identify with the Charism of the Daughters of Jesus. We see the evidence of this in their experiences.

Meeting Maxime

My experience took place at the CNRPH (National Rehabilitation Center for Handicapped Persons) at Yaoundé.

I will speak straightaway of my meeting with Maxime: a severely handicapped little boy who was abandoned by his parents at 3 years old. He couldn’t walk, didn’t talk, had mental disorders and was locked up in himself. He is therefore totally dependent…. a simple presence. I took care of him every day: I spoke gently to him, stroked his head, helped him to eat, changed his diapers, took him out of his room. Weather permitting, I brought him outside and around the Center or spent a few minutes with him in the chapel. Little by little I could see Maxime opening up: he became cheerful, found his beautiful smile. His sad expression of the first day changed into a radiant face. He felt loved and secure with me.

Throughout this process I was deeply touched by Maxime’s ability to love, to trust, to enter into a relationship despite his heavy handicap. For me he was the living presence of Christ. With him I discovered my own personal limitations as well as my giftedness. Having to communicate with this child, be it only through sign language, I discovered that love has no specific language. The look in his eyes, his movements, his body attitude, his smile and touch were expressions of real communication.

This closeness with Maxime strengthened my ability to be patient and caring, thus allowing me to experience the beauty of being human. Through my relationship with Maxime, I discovered the Charism of our Congregation: “ To honor the Sacred Humanity of the Son of God”. By my gestures, my gaze, my kind and loving words I helped him, in a sense, to exist, to feel alive and important. All that I was able to do for this young handicapped boy was a witness of Christ’s presence in me. May the Lord continue to act through me so that the little ones may enjoy the fullness of life. I thank all those who allowed me to live this unforgettable encounter with God.


“Learn to give and to give one’s self”

For my “stage” I was sent to an orphanage in the city of Yaoundé. There I learned to experience many forms of caring, of communion and love with the children. These experiences have changed my outlook and, I dare say, transformed my life.

I was particularly challenged by little Alice. Abandoned by her parents, she was very shy and weak. She loafed around before dragging her feet to school and naturally was often late. She never greeted anybody nor spoke to anyone – she would just look and pass by.

Faced with this troubling situation I asked myself many a question especially regarding my tight schedule. How could I somehow bring care and love to this child. In the midst of my confusion, I recalled a song which says: “Like Him, set the table, put on an apron, get up every day to serve with love as He did”. Inspired by the fire of love I organized my activities so that I could spend time with, and care for, little Alice.

At the end of two weeks I began to notice some change: she would talk to me about her past; she made friends and began to play with them, running around. What had been impossible for her she could now do: open a faucet, carry a pail of water, wash herself properly, etc. Towards the end of my stay, seeing so much progress in her behaviour, I rejoiced to see her so happy and withdrew somewhat to allow her to grow and mingle with her friends.

This was for me an experience of love and surpassing of myself where I learned to honor the humanity of my brothers and sisters in loving and caring. I met Jesus, I encountered Him. The time I spent with Alice helped me to become more deeply human and loving. Didn’t Jean Vanier say: “Generosity incites us to give money, time and knowledge. Trust provokes us to give of ourselves, to give our very hearts”. I was given the heart of a little child!

In closing, I wish to thank my Congregation, my novitiate community, for having sent me to “the real peripheries of our times” to bring the Fire of Love that animated our founders and foundresses which continues to be rekindled.


PS: the children’s names are fictitious




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