By Br. Alfonce Kugwa
The Sisters of Our Lady of Sorrows set foot in Zimbabwe some 25 years ago and breathed life in the dormant town of Chegutu through identifying, accommodating and helping underprivileged children. On 15 September this year, the congregation celebrated a silver jubilee to mark several achievements accomplished since 1993 including the construction of a school in Chegutu and Mariele Children’s Home at St. Michael’s Mission in Mhondoro. The pioneers of the sisters mission were Sr. Luisa Marchetti, Sr. Teresa Navaro and Sr. Leda Bagni.
The Archbishop of Harare, Robert Christopher Ndlovu said the Sisters of Our Lady of Sorrows have brought a healing presence to the people of Chegutu and Mhondoro especially through the assistance they offer to orphaned children so that they realise a bright future.
“We also realise the importance of Sisters through their work in Mhondoro where they have put up an orphanage and they assist many disadvantaged children. The Sisters continue to soldier on no matter the difficulties that they face in an effort to serve local people,” Archbishop Ndlovu said.
Archbishop Ndlovu hailed the sisters for the courage and faith they exuded amid teething challenges they encountered on their journey to establish their communities in Zimbabwe. He reminded that many people fail to keep the faith when they meet challenges.
“Mary the Mother of Jesus kept the faith and stood at the foot of the cross because she believed in God. The will of God should be our Motto and we should depend on him always. Sisters of Our Lady of Sorrows should lead by example in teaching people about depending on God’s providence. You should continue to show us that spirit in your dedication to serve the people,” encouraged Archbishop Ndlovu.
The Archbishop said the congregation has become part of the Archdiocese’s history for the past 25 years and for many years to come. He assured the sisters that the Archdiocese cherished their work of supporting the underprivileged.
He said: “We value your contribution to the local church and we see your fruits in vocations of indigenous sisters who have joined your congregation. The presence of local sisters in your congregation means that you are here to stay and not passing by.”
The Sisters opened a state of the art primary school in Chegutu’s Kaguvi Phase 3 in 2010 and there are prospects of growing the institution by constructing a secondary school. In 2011 the community started Mariele Children’s Home in Mhondoro. The Superior General of the Sisters of Our Lady of Sorrows, Mother Carla Bertani OLS said the celebration of 25years of the congregation’s presence in Zimbabwe was a great milestone in the mission of the sisters.
“Today we celebrate 25 years of this Zimbabwe Mission, a mission that owes its life to those who had the inspiration and the courage to begin something new and its growth to the many people who placed their best energy in this work of love,” said Mother Bertani.
Mother Bertani paid tribute to Doctor Marilena Pesaresi who first invited the then Superior General, Mother Luisa Falsetti to consider opening a community in Zimbabwe and the late Archbishop Patrick Chakaipa for the warm reception of the first sisters and for entrusting them with the formation of catechists and the education of children and youth. She said the presence of many people at the anniversary celebration was a clear testimony of the work her sisters were doing.
She said: “Your numerous presence here attests that those uncertain and humble beginnings and the work done through the 25 years have touched the lives of many and that many relationships have been woven. Today we are reaping the copious fruits from the small seed planted 25 years ago here in Zimbabwe.”
Sr. Bertani stressed that her congregation contributes to integral human development through the education of young people which is also important in their formation.
“A society which invests in its youth, invests in its future; a society which loves its children and youth, chooses to educate them, gives them the means for becoming fine adults, responsible citizens and agents of change, it is a health society. All of us are called to create opportunities for our youth to develop their talents, to be women and men of peace in solidarity with everyone. We are called to support them so that they may find their way in life and may give their very best,” stressed Sr. Bertani.
“We believe that human formation cannot be disjointed from faith formation since both are necessary in order to form the whole person. We were founded for education and in fact we are educators by vocation at every moment of life and in everything we do. To educate, therefore is for us the privileged way in which we love and help our society,” she emphasised.
The congregation has nine sisters working in Zimbabwe. These are Srs. Luisa, Antonietta, Aurelia, Magdalena, Piera, Arcangela, Eustine, Mary and Josphine and they are motivate by the love of Jesus crucified, and for the poor, trust in providence, love for the will of God which is manifested to us through events and people, a life in community and the service of education always with joy.