Sister Marie Thérèse Catusse, a Daughter of Jesus in Africa, shares with us her experience of mission in Karna, Cameroon, from 2013 to 2020. After spending 10 years in the Ivory Coast, she was called to join a community in a village in Adamaoua, Cameroon. After seven years in this village, she was again called to leave, this time to the postulancy community at Bini Dang.
“My seven years in this village have been rich in life and I would like to share with you some aspects that have particularly touched and shaped me.
A reunion with the land of Kermaria that bore fruit in Africa
This year we are celebrating the 20th anniversary of the reunion of the Daughters of Jesus of Vaylats with Mother Marie de Saint Charles. At the beginning of the year 2000, the Daughters of Jesus of Vaylats, from the South of France, came to bring to the Daughters of Jesus of Kermaria in Brittany, the answer to a letter from Mother Mary of Saint Charles, dating from 1870! A journey together began which culminated in the alliance of the two religious families in July 2011.
Originally a Daughter of Jesus of Vaylats, I lived the alliance of our Congregations with joy, but it was in Karna that it really took shape for me. Uprooting and taking root…internationality….
Over seven years, I have had the chance to share in turn the lives of ten Daughters of Jesus of seven different nationalities: Cameroonian, Canadian, Congolese, Vietnamese, French, Haitian, Ivorian … not forgetting those of the neighbouring community in Bini Dang. Each one, with her difference, allowed me to enter into my new family, “this institute so similar to ours” according to the intuition and expression of Mother Marie de Saint Charles.
In the community of Karna, I truly experienced through sharing our fraternal life, prayer, and mission that our two charisms :
- “witnessing to the face of Jesus, Word made flesh, God’s tenderness for every man“
- “honouring the holy humanity of the Son of God”
Sharing in the discernment of the young
I was happy to see the postulants’ faces light up when I clarified a question about Faith or how to make the past participle agree!
The courses I was charged with giving them allowed me to deepen my own faith. The Creed that “recited” at Mass, it took flesh and regained its full strength. I can no longer pray it as I used to. These were moments not only of sharing knowledge but also and above all of faith-sharing.
Living with them, sharing the Word of God and the mission, challenged me as “the elder” with forty – four years of religious life. I tried to witness that it is possible to continue to be joyfully faithful to the response given to the first call … to bear witness that it is possible to live with the Lord!
This experience could only encourage me and made me happy to leave to renew it with others at Bini Dang.
A mission of proximity in a village
In Karna, I also experienced what it is like to work with children and young people to encourage learning and a taste for reading, as well as being a presence in the parish, and the village. I gave a little, but I received a lot. I keep in my heart the radiant faces of newly married or baptised people who had been waiting a long time for this day. I can still picture the children leaving for the village with their nose in the book they had just taken from the library. I can see those who arrived under the sun to learn to read.
How can I forget the simplicity of relationships, the shared friendship, the neighbourhood Eucharists that put Christ so close to his people? How can I not give thanks?
Yes, Lord, You are present at the heart of all life :
- You are present in the smile of this young mother who has just lost her eyesight but is struggling to live.
- You are present in the thanks of the young people who come to say, “Thanks to the books I have borrowed and the advice I have received, I have passed the baccalaureate, I am going on to first year.”
- You are present in the words of this Muslim father who replied to a marriage offer for his daughter with, “My daughter is not an animal that I can sell to someone she doesn’t know”.
Yes, Lord, You are present at the heart of all life,
Help me to recognise You,
to go constantly to meet You,
no matter where You call me.
Lord, send labourers into Your harvest.
so that the young children are not deprived
of Your tenderness and the revelation of Your love.
Sr Marie-Thérèse Catusse dj