Provinces

SMIC TEAM ADJUSTING, Angola

 2017 SMIC TEAM ADJUSTMENTS in the Angolan Mission

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Prior to the return of  Sister Mirna Dias to Brazil in May, Sister Marivalda Ramos arrived in Angola to prepare herself to administer the School in the Tamba Village, as well as join the rest of the team of SMIC to serve the various parish ministries of Malange.   At this time, Sr. Marivalda updates us with her work specific to our educational ministry as it addresses the needs of youth.

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I will give thanks to the Lord all my life!

The Congregation of the Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Conception of the Mother of God has been present in Angola, Africa since 2012. The work is carried out together with the Franciscan brothers of the Province of the Immaculate Conception of Brazil.

Our missionary work here in the Angolan province of Malange comes in many forms. In education, we developed the mission with children and adolescents in a primary school located in the village of Tamba. As SMIC, we work in solidarity with the public education network in order to collaborate in quality of learning, as well as to promote the integrity of persons with the fundamental values of life, aimed  to promote a culture of peace and non-violence  in Angolan lands.

Last month we held a seminar at the Santo António School with students from the 3rd to 6th grade on two topics that we consider relevant to the reality here. Alcohol dependence and sexually transmitted diseases. Some of the students’ families, were in attendance at this seminar,  as they are active members of the institution and play a very important role in the development and quality of teaching.

Here in Angola, people start drinking  at a very young age becoming dependent or alcohol abusers   early in life. In the parish, I accompany a group of “ex-dependents” recently recovered from Hope Farm in Huambo. In their reports, they had contact with drugs while they were still adolescents.  The group also consists of adolescents and young people who still use alcohol and other drugs but who want to stop using.

With regard to the issue of sexually transmitted diseases, another challenge  in Tamba, is that of  adolescents with communicable diseases, mainly HIV, AIDS. AIDS is largely responsible for many cases of death here in the Malange province, according to a survey presented by the nurse speaker, Sister Olympia.

The mission entrusted to us here as SMIC, goes beyond education. On weekends we work with parish  formation, accompany  groups in the parish and villages. On Sundays we participate in Liturgy with the people. Sister Jane, (Chinese) accompanies Frei Luis in the villages on Saturdays, there,  she brings healing to the children and young people. On Sundays, the Brazilian sisters  celebrate together with the people in the villages near the school. On October 1st,  in the village of Utende, we took part in a  celebration of the  feast of their patron Saint Teresa of the Child Jesus. It was a celebration full of faith and devotion expressed in songs, liturgy in Kimbundu and Portuguese. After the celebration, the choral group São Paulo (Malange) celebrated with the people.

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The Chinese sisters ( Sisters Johanna (above) and  Jane Frances) work in the health center of the Franciscan Sisters of St. Joseph, serving the Angolan people in their various needs. In addition to their daily work, they go to villages to provide medical consultation. The sisters also give health assistance to the Chinese who live here  either going to  their homes or attending them in the parish’s service room built for this purpose.

We render thanks to God for all that he has accomplished in our behalf for his greater glory.

                                                                                              Sister Marivalda Moraes Ramos

Malange, October 13, 2017

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World Prayer by Youth in Taipei

TAIZE YOUTH GATHERING IN TAIWAN

Sr. Theresa Su, SMIC

We, fourteen young Sisters of Asian Province, attended the Taize Worship in Taipei from April 28th to 30th. There were more than a hundred young adults joined made up of a diverse group of Christian Churches and two third of them were Roman Catholics. The theme of the event was “Reconciliation in Mercy.”

Before the program started, Br. Han Yol Shin of Taize who were the main coordinator of this event, said, “This is a time to rest in God and release all burdens of our hearts.” He gave us a little introduction of Taize Prayer. I was impressed when he introduced the “Taize Cross.” Br. Shin let us look at Jesus’ hands carefully. He asked, did we see Jesus is trying so hard to stretch out his hands in order to reunite people from two sites. He used his body as intermediary to sacrifice, to bring peace, and to reconnect people. By His example, we could reflect on our daily actions, and identify if we were also

like Jesus as a sacramental instrument for this world.

One of the most important parts of this event is the “Sunday Worship.” After Protestant and Catholic priests’ long discussions and considerations, they came out a reformed “Sunday Worship” which held on the last day of this event; eventually, I can’t tell any difference between our Sunday Mass and this reformed Worship. If I have to recognize something, I would say we use different versions of Gospel readings. The most touched part of the Sunday Worship was when we sang Our Father, everyone sat together, hand in hand; no matter which Churches we belong to. When it was time to receive the Holy Communion during the Sunday Worship, two priests from Episcopal Church and Roman Catholic Churches did the service for all participants. There were two long lines for receiving the Eucharist. It was an incredible moment. I felt it was like a separated body, now reunited.

I learn a lot from these two days and experienced a renewing energy burning in my heart. I pray through our prayers and practice bringing peace and hope to the world.

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Catechist Preparation for Keetmanshoop Diocese

HOSTEL TRAINING TSES

by Sr. Beatrix Mokwena smic

A two-year training course that was called “Pedagogical/Cathechetical Seminary (PCS) for hostel educator was installed 1974 in Dornfeld/Gobabis by fr. Philipp Pollitzer OMI, now bishop of Keetmanshoop. We, the SMIC sisters, were in charge of the training course till 2008 when it was closed.

And in 2010, Bishop Pollitzer came with the idea to continue with this course in the South of training people who are already working in Catholic Hostel. But on the same time we saw also the need of unemployed young people.

We started the course first as refresher course for those who were already in service as hostel educator. As time went on, we decided to make it as a training course to help unemployed young people in Namibia. Due to those who are in-service we do the training during schools holidays to give opportunity to them to attend the training. We officially started in 2011 whereby people from the North and even the South came in big numbers for the course. The training is just during holidays and twice in a year for two weeks. That means each person has to follow 10 modules to finish the training.. Actually the training is well attended with maximum of 50 to 60 people per course. We invited people from outside (priest, deacons, sisters, lay people and volunteers…) to give classes. However, one married women trained at Gobabis is part of our team.

It was a big success and joy to see the fruits of our work from 2011to May 2017. So far twenty young people and two Religious sisters of Francis de Sale sister and Benedictine sister are graduated.

This training gives many people the opportunity to get work in RC hostels and Government hostels and even in kindergarten/Pre-school fields.

With great gratitude we are thankful for all who finished the training and been part of our team and helping us in different ways e.g. giving classes or helping with cooking.

As administrators Miss Maritjie Hatzenberg and myself Sr. Beatrix, visit all the Catholic hostel three times a year. We want to see that the trainees are doing the work correctly and to advise them. Thank God who gives us the grace and strength to continue with this important education to help our Kids spiritually, mentally, socially and moral value.

The courses of this type are really important both to the education of a Namibian child and the Catholic Church in Namibia.

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TEA CEREMONY LITURGY

A SPECIAL EASTER OFFERING: TEA CEREMONY

On Easter Sunday afternoon here at our Immaculata Spiritual Center, we experienced a very special and different kind of Season Offering “liturgy”. A Japanese Tea Ceremony teacher, Hashimoto Kiquko (橋本喜久⼦) from Kyoto, Japan came to Tainan to hold a Tea Ceremony for Easter.

A cup of tea both in Taiwan and Japan signifies sincerity and honor between friends.

However, Japanese has developed this simple sign into a religious “sacrament.” And whenever people do it, it is done contemplatively and beautifully in silence with great reverence.

On this Easter Sunday afternoon there were about seventy people, believers, and nonbelievers, Catholics, Protestants, Buddhists and Taoists, sat together in the meditation hall.

In the beginning of the ceremony, the first cup of tea was brought to the altar and offered to Jesus Christ the risen Lord. All the participants sat silently and did only the following things: observed the teacher making tea cup by cup; reverently received the tea brought to you by the server; and drank the tea with gratitude.

The entire “liturgy” was carried on in silence and it lasted for two hours.

It was indeed a deep, contemplative experience of life, peace and love of Easter

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Belem Assembly 2017

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The Belem Province met October 5-9, 2017 to discuss the implementation of the General Chapter Acts as well as to prepare for the restructuring of the Province as a Unit of the Congregation that will take place within a few years.

The Assembly included faith sharing as its daily prayer and small group table discussions being further enlarged with information and facilitation by Fr. Moacir Casagrande, Sisters Livramento Oliveira and Janis Jordan.

 

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US Province Gathering-2017

A TIME FOR ACTION

by Sr. Joanne Riggs, smic

After we returned home from the general chapter last November we decided on a plan to share the experience of the chapter with our sisters who could not attend. To accomplish this, we set up a series of Zoom calls for the members of the US Province. These meetings were scheduled on Saturday afternoons in January, February, April and June.

On January 14th we shared a ‘flavor’ of the chapter with our sisters by describing the structure of the days, the base and consensus groups, the social events we attended and even the food!  Each one of the delegates took an aspect of the chapter and shared with the group their own experience of our time in Taiwan.

The delegates thought that each of the scheduled calls would be done around one of the chapter directives. The exception to this was the directive on prayer, which we hope to experience in person by replicating the small groups we had at the chapter in our provincial gathering in August, 2017.

On February 25th, we did our second call and its purpose was to discuss one of the chapter directives—in this case, “our sensitivity to the cry for human dignity that comes from global realities impels us to strengthen our multicultural communion within and outside of the SMIC community”. In preparation for the call each of the sisters received a prayer to pray before the call, reflection questions related to the directive and a question sent out ahead of time called a ‘loop’. The sisters were asked to respond to the loop question in writing before the next call, so that their responses could be shared at the meeting.  Some of the responses to the February call were:

“God’s wisdom created our variety.”

“Jesus said—what we do to others we do to Him—are we listening with our hearts?”

“The sense of ‘superiority’ that our country imposes on others resulting in such actions as: a ban of refugees/immigrants and disregard for their essential needs—food, shelter, health care and employment.”

When asked to select their top two priorities: the sisters overwhelmingly selected:

  1. Immigration/refugees
  2. Care for creation

As the two areas that the province should focus on in the next couple of years.

We repeated this process again on our subsequent calls of April 8 when we discussed the direction statement: “We are determined to respond to a clear call to mission beyond borders. This motivates us to courageously expand our mission networking.” Again, some of the comments of the sisters were:

“In our general chapter discussions, this direction statement had a real urgency within the group, expand who we are—more courageous in efforts—include others—collaboration-work together with all people to bring the message of Jesus”.

“Mission begins with us, we have to love one another then can branch out—all of our outreach begins with us”’

“There are no borders for SMIC.”

And on June 10th we discussed: “In Franciscan reverence, we respond to the pain of mother earth by committing ourselves to intensify our ecological solidarity.” Again, our sisters said:

“the greatest pain is that of human ignorance.”

“ indifference to the poor, waste, lack of reverence for all creation”.

“selfishness, lack of concern, it’s too much trouble.”

The whole purpose of doing this is to dive more deeply into these issues at our annual gathering and plan together what concrete actions we can realistically take to support the directions that were set by our general chapter last November. Our annual gathering is scheduled for August 28-Sept.1—pray for us and we will for all of you.

 

 

 

 

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Sister Florence Hee, OSF   was  truly a sister-Franciscan  facilitator who skillfully walked with us to accomplish our meeting goals.

Receiving input on restructuring from Sr. Livramento, Minister General  helped us to prepare our process of implementing this new way of being one with one another.

 

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moments of sharing

 

Province  2017 Statement

 

Whereas, the Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Conception of the Mother of God, living our Franciscan heritage are not only hearers of the Word, but doers—.

And, whereas, we are called to care for our brothers and sisters in need we choose as a province to commit our resources of time, talent and treasure to work together to alleviate the suffering of refugees and immigrants who come to our nation, seeking a new home.

Our efforts include the following:

  • Being in relationship with refugees and immigrants by—
    • Assisting with their re-settlement, education, access to those things necessary for life.
    • Supporting legislation which enables a better life for refugees and immigrants,
    • (such as DACA).
    • Opposing all efforts to build a wall along our southern border including making a public statement.
    • Connecting with the Network, and Franciscan Action Network, both advocacy groups on a national level.
    • Being willing to speak in a non-violent way in order to educate and raise consciousness of others with regard to refugees, immigrants and the profiling of people based on race or ethnicity.
    • Providing public support of positive actions of others.
    • Continuing to collaborate with others involved locally with refugee and immigrant issues.

 

 Comments about the Gathering


For me, the Annual Gathering this year was one of both gift and blessing.  Having an assembly that was so well planned, organized and facilitated helped  our decision making it a more fluid experience. I now look forward to the transitioning restructuring process for us to become a unit.  This time together was certainly  fruitful and Spirit filled.  (Sr.Sheila Madden)

 

When we SMICs agreed on the General Chapter direction on Ecological Conversion, I knew I needed to move this to a higher priority in my life. We have for years been concerned about water—where it’s too little or too much, how to conserve it and help people who need it. I came to our Annual Gathering with one project that has moved me, the desperate need for clean water at St. Michael’s Association for Special Education on a Navaho reservation in New Mexico. The US Sisters signed in twos for a month in which we can report on projects we can or do get involved in. For November, I invite anyone to send me (by November 10th) information to share about any project dealing with ecology and climate change, including water, and to Sr. Janice on any projects involving our focus on the issue of refugees and immigrants, which is our priority for our directives on Unity in Diversity and Ministry.   (Sr. Jane Abeln)

 

The gathering was a wonderful opportunity for the US Province of SMICs to jointly commit to the Congregational Acts by specifically crafting a common declaration  on immigrant and refugee resettlement  issues (see above)  that will be  publicly published  during the months to come.  In addition we outlined ways to work in a variety of ways to protect our Mother Earth.  These include:

Actions about Water

  • Reduce excessive use as individuals
  • Collect rain water to be used  versus tap water
  • Educate others about the amount of water used in nuclear power plants, fracking & oil refineries plus the potential for pollution.
  • Privatization of water will limit the amount of water to the needy
  • The fight over water may lead to the next war therefore, we need to address water conservation i.e. Pax Christi International
  • Research www.digdeep.org  about the issues of water on Navajo Reservations

Social & Political Actions

  • Contribute to a political group that specifically addresses climate change i.e. Catholic Climate Covenant.
  • Being active and making pleas on social media about things that you know are harmful to the environment
  • Watch and discuss  Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth 1 & 2
  • Find more programs or films about the effects of climate change that can be shared with all your sisters for them to be more involved.
  • People making commitment to putting in time to send monthly articles in the community about climate change. A reminder Around and About sign-up list was created and signed (see attached).

Other Actions

  • Plant trees to reduce CO2 – especially in California due to forest fires decimating the trees
  • Growing vegetable plots
  • Keeping the environment clean by picking up litter
  • Sending cards that are actually seedlings to encourage planting.

(Sr. Janice Jolin)

 

 

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Mission at the Border -Brazil-French Guiana

The OIAPOQUE Mission Report of 2015.

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We missionaries, Sr. Zenilda Ferreira, SMIC, and Sr. Aparecida Viana (Sisters of Providence of GAP) e Ruth Oliveira (Lay Missioner from the St. Francis Xavier Parish of the Archdiocese of Belém) arrived at the Oiapoque on April 11th 2015, at about 5:30 AM with Fr. Nello e Sr. Rebecca who accompanied us and helped us for one month in adapting ourselves. It was with a heart full of joy and expectations that we stepped onto this land.

 

On the following day we were presented by Fr. Augustinho to the Parish during the Eucharistic celebration. Afterwards, we were presented to the communities who were present at the Parish to meet the representatives and also give us some reference about them

 

It is good to remember that before coming to the   Oiapoque, we spent a month at the house in CIMI in Belém. It was a time of formation and information with the coordinators of the mission, Fr. Nello and Sr. Rebecca and some speakers who helped orient us with reflections, sharing about the mission area and living among ourselves. As an activity we spent Holy Week in the Village of the Tembé indigenous people, in Santa Maria.

 

During this first year we had as our work plan to know the reality of the Oiapoque.

We did this by visiting the neighborhoods and by direct contact with families seeking information about trafficked cases, migrants, prostitution, etc. We also went to the Border at St. Jorge, in French Guiana where we met Sisters and priests and people who also work in the parish.

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During this year, we visited families of the communities of: São Cristóvão (Infraero); São José (Vila Vitória); Sagrado Coração de Jesus (Pertinho do Céu); São Raimundo Nonato (Nova Esperança); São Benedito (Centro); Nossa Senhora de Nazaré (Clevelândia); Planalto; and a part of the surroundings of the Mother Church (Central) where we live as well as having an opportunity to know some of the river communities and villages where Fr. Nello, Sr. Rebecca and Fr. Augustinho minister.

 

Our presence here in the Parish has served to help priests and parishioners. In all of the communities we seek to help and be a presence for life among the people in times of celebration. We visit many families, ill, elderly and principally where we meet children and adolescents as these are the most vulnerable ones. We always seek to give a word of comfort and hope, helping when possible, conversing and trying to discover how trafficking and prostitution happen.

 

With these visits, we feel it is an opportunity to have friendly encounters and trust with the families. Wherever we go we listen to many stories and learn about difficult family situations. There is social, economic emotional vulnerability often caused by violence to children and women, drugs consumed by youth and children, situations of parent-youth, prostitution of adolescents, often encouraged by the mother, mothers working in the mining fields with children who are alone our in some cases with relatives or friends where oftentimes the relative violates the child and sexual abuse occurs.

 

In the São José Community in Vila Vitória, and São Cristóvão no Infraero, which are humble neighborhoods with much violence, migrants, prostitution of adolescents we began a group of adolescents, girls who learn to embroider, crochet and do cross point stitching. In Vila Vitória, we also visit the CRAS where we began crafts with girls and boys who generally are poor children coming from situations of suffering.

 

In the Comunity of São Raimundo Nonato, neighborhood of Nova Esperança, we formed a a group of women who do artisan work such as crochet. We do this to promote self esteem, to value the woman, to occupy the mind and to create friendships. We always begin with a prayer and during the work we hold conversations about various family and community situations. There are 6 women in this group and we are looking for others.

 

As a concrete gesture of Christmas, with the help of the parish and the local forum, we held a Solidarity Campaign having as its theme “to give is to love” with the intention of collecting good, clothes, toys to be donated thus giving a joyful Christmas to the families and communities. Forty (40) families benefitted from food baskets, 50 children with toys and some 80 people (children and adults) with clothes.

 

At Christmas, we also had the partnership of DPAC Fronteira, where we created a “Friends of the Children” network along with a Christmas Solidarity in Vila Vitória, distributing toys, lunch and clothing.

 

We received many people in our Mercy House who come asking for information, water to drink and to be helped with food, to talk or seek our advise about some family problem among other things. These are indigenous city people, migrants and parishioners

 

During 2015, we also were visited. The Bishop of Macapá, Dom Pedro José Conti; Sr. Nila Soares, provincial, Sr. Maria Inês president of the National Office of the Religious Conference, Fr. Camille de São Jorge, Fr. Paulo of CIMI. All came to know something about our Mission on the Borders and to encourage us missioners.

 

Due to family illnes, Sr. Aparecida needed to return to São Paulo on October 30th where she is until now.

 

We know that we still have things to do but we are certain that being here in Oiapoque and knowing a bit about the culture of the people and their difficulties, problems and needs, little by little we will be helping and be a sign of the presence of the Kingdom among the people.

 

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