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News from Notre-Dame-des-Apôtres Region

Bernadette Breton, CND et Marthe Falie Minkoué Nzié, CND

Editorial

Dear readers,

We are pleased to reconnect with you and to offer you our very best wishes for this new year, 2015.

Between late 2014 and early 2015, the sisters of Notre-Dame des Apôtres Region were involved in wide-spread activies, some of which are highlighted in this issue. We hope that reading about them will bring you joy. Within these pages, you will find an interesting report of the work undertaken at the meeting of the Central Committee of Associate Relationship on the main theme: Uncovering the Face of Associate Relationship. In the midst of this joy, however, there is an obituary item regarding the passing of Bishop Joseph Djida. He was well-liked by all the novices who knew him.

Enjoy this issue!!!

Bernadette Breton, CND and Marthe Falie,CND


A DAY UNLIKE ANY OTHER…

Open House

Nazareth Community

First scheduled to take place on October 31, the day commemorating the canonization of SAINT MARGUERITE BOURGEOYS, the event was actually held on Sunday, November 9, 2014, at the Ngaoundéré novitiate.

While we waited for the young women to arrive, the climate was positive and everything was open: our door, our hearts and our arms. In order to prepare for this activity and be ready for Sunday, the sisters had attended Saturday night Mass. The weather was pleasant and a comfortable breeze was blowing. The sisters seemed to be in two places at once as they prepared for this event.

At 2:00 in the afternoon, the young women started to arrive. After welcoming them, and after the activities which followed, we taught them hymns. The hymn Marguerite Bourgeoys est venue pour toi, pour moi, pour nous (Marguerite Bourgeoys came for you, for me, for us all) was accompanied by a few dance steps which the young women performed beautifully, with joy and enthusiasm. The ambiance was so pleasant that Mother Bourgeoys, came down from heaven to sing and dance along with them!

The participants then viewed a presentation on the story of our foundress which was expertly narrated by Sister Yvette. They then broke into groups in order to prepare their presentations. One group chose to put on a play, another to recite a poem and yet another to act out a mime. Each team was called upon to demonstrate a particular aspect of the life of our foundress. Filled with wonder, Marguerite Bourgeoys exclaimed how beautiful it was to see her life unfolding through artistic expression!

While she was with the young women, she spoke to them as a friend, a mother and a woman religious. What we remember is: “Study diligently as it is necessary.” Before leaving, she made sure to tell them that she loved them and that she carried them in her heart and in her prayers. She also expressed the wish to see some of them called by God to continue His work. With delight, we shared a light snack. To conclude, there was a final prayer after which all returned home.

It is up to the Lord of the harvest to call the workers to his vineyard and ensure that the best fruit is picked in order to produce the best wine!

MATCHUENDEM Augustine and MAKOUGOUM Suzy, novices


CHARISM

Charisms are like the Gospels: There is no end to analyzing them; there will always be something more to explore, new teachings and new facets to discover.

The central theme of this summer’s meeting of the Central Committee of Associate Relationship was Uncovering the Face of Associate Relationship. The objective of each of its activities was to gradually uncover this face.

In order to fulfill this goal, Ms. Ann Walsh, an associate of the Redemptorists of Saint Alphonsus Liguori, spoke to province and region coordinators about charism, the charism of Jesus and of Marguerite Bourgeoys.

In her opinion charism is like a diamond; both have many facets. The most perfect diamond, the most perfect charism is Jesus.

Each person, each religious community, Saint Marguerite Bourgeoys, and Saint Alphonsus reflect a facet of this charism; it is an element we have in common. Yet each community, each province, each region, and each village reflects it differently. The associates of the Congregation of Notre Dame are attracted to the many facets of Marguerite Bourgeoys’s charism.

In Ann’s opinion, Marguerite Bourgeoys’s charism is a gift, a gift of love and generosity. Marguerite lived her call by imitating Mary. Our own charism finds its place in that of Marguerite.

Ann then explored the aspects of a charism and highlighted four of them.

The first aspect is perception, or the way we see needs. To be called to live within the Congregation of Notre Dame family is like putting on glasses to see clearly what was previously blurred. We are now able to look around us with Marguerite’s eyes, with Marguerite’s glasses, that is, with love.

Within Associate Relationship we all wear similar glasses, even though we all have different personalities, have lived different experiences, come from different backgrounds and cultures, are of different nationalities, and have different sentiments and hopes. Yet, while the glasses are the same, each pair of eyes sees the world from different perspectives.

The second aspect is the incarnation of a charism.

Incarnation is the way we experience charism, the way to put flesh, substance on what we have learned during formation sessions and celebrations aimed at helping us make Marguerite Bourgeoys and her charism our own. This necessarily leads to a new way of being – acting by example.

The third aspect of a charism is mission.

Mission is that to which we have been called.

Locally, it is the way we discover Christ in new relationships, in new situations; it is how we visit and allow ourselves to be visited; the way we carry Christ where only we alone can bring him; how we embody liberating education in our milieu. In short, it is how we live our mission wherever we may be.

The last aspect of a charism is fruitfulness.

Fruitfulness is how we build the Kingdom of God through our testimonies and way of living; it is how we bear fruit daily and attract others to us because God works through attraction.

  • As associates, it is important to ask ourselves such questions as:
  • How does my way of life as an associate bear fruit every day?
  • Where do I see the signs of such fruit?
  • For what fruits do I pray?

Ann Walsh concluded her presentation by stating: “As associates, it is important to understand the importance of preaching by example, of taking action, of being attentive to others in order to be able to discern their problems and help them find solutions. Our awareness needs to be sharpened. We need to remember Marguerite’s spirit while we are washing dishes or caring for people in the hospital or elsewhere.

We can think that we bring God to others, but experience shows that it is, in fact, others who bring God to us. We need to be open to this.

God precedes our visitations. At times He remains anonymous. We cannot go to any field, hospital or supermarket without finding God already there waiting for us.

Reflection:

Charism is a gift from the Spirit and, as we know, the Spirit breathes where and how the Spirit wishes.

As associates, we are flowers in the plot of the Congregation, better yet, we are fruit trees in the garden of the Master Gardener. Does our experience of charism make us seasonal fruit trees, like the barren fig tree in the Gospel (Mt 21:18-19), or fruit trees which produce all year round?

I propose that we reflect on a verse from a hymn by Lucien Deiss;

Fleuris, fleuris, fleuris là où Dieu t’a choisi, fleuris, fleuris, fleuris c’est là qu’il t’avait aimé(e)… (Blossom, blossom, blossom there where you were chosen by God, blossom, blossom, blossom there where He has loved you…).

TOUNSSI Joseph, Associate


CND KUMBO

 Marguerite Bourgeoys Tridium

Sister Cathy Molloy’s birthday celebration took place on January 10.

Our reflection took its inspiration from the prayer service prepared for the associates of Blessed Sacrament Province. We dwelt on an excerpt from Marguerite Bourgeoys, Woman with an Open Heart and an Open Door by Patricia Simpson, CND. After quiet reflection, our response to the question, “When have I experienced a response to God’s grace that has enlarged my heart?” allowed for a moment of deep sharing and opportunity to realize how God is indeed teaching us to develop and nurture giving hearts. Songs by Kathleen Deignan, CND, and petitions were also part of our prayer. Then followed a festive meal prepared by Sister Lucie, the presentation of a gift, and a time of enjoyable conversation.

On January 11, the Vocation Club gathered at our house for their monthly meeting facilitated by Sisters Lucie and Agnes. Sister Cecile, our invited guest, likened the Feast of Saint Marguerite Bourgeoys to a memorial celebration, a custom in our country. This celebration brings to mind the deceased person and evokes the life and goodness of that person. In the same way, we celebrate the feast of Saint Marguerite Bourgeoys to remember her life and what she means to us today. In a story-telling mode, using examples taken from our local culture, Marguerite’s life came alive for the participants. Sister Cecile ended her presentation by reminding us of Marguerite’s enlarged heart, asking the girls to recall an occasion when they felt joy at their own goodness of heart. The sharing was rich. For example, Mercy shared that one day as she was walking home from school, even if she was feeling very hungry, she chose to help an old grandmother who was carrying firewood from the roadside to her kitchen. The task finished, Mercy was hurrying on her way when she heard the grandmother call her to offer her a bunch of plantain bananas. Mercy said she cannot explain how she felt, but knew the feeling was from God. After more sharing with the girls, Sisters Agnes and Lucie felt that the participants had learned much about Saint Marguerite Bourgeoys and that they were very happy with their gathering.

On January 12, true to our vocation of “Filles de Paroisse,” we asked our parish priest to celebrate the Mass of the Feast of Saint Marguerite Bourgeoys at our regular Monday evening Mass. Sister Cathy Molloy did the First Reading. Some of the girls in our Vocation Club attended. Outside, after Mass, a number of parishioners expressed their joy of celebrating with us.

Cecile Buote, CND


Obituary:

GOD CALLED HIM TO HIS REST

Bishop Joseph Djida, of the Diocese of Ngaoundéré, returned to God on November 6, 2014. Joseph was a very approachable man who liked to be close to his flock. As the photo shows, he carried a special place in his heart for young people especially those who wanted to dedicate themselves to God. May our merciful God welcome Joseph in love and into eternal glory.

Marthe Falie, CND

 

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