By Sr. Ledwina Sarudzai Ndige SJI
About 190 SJI Sisters converged at Driefontein Mission under Gweru Diocese from 24 to 26 March 2023 for their general assembly which is often held after every three years. Sisters at the hosting community in Driefontein welcomed with joy, their colleagues who work in different parts of the country.
The congregation of the Sisters of the Child Jesus was locally instituted in 1950 by the late Bishop Alois Haene (SMB), the former bishop of Gweru. The SJI Sisters operate in Masvingo, Gweru, Harare, Bulawayo, Mozambique and also in the United States of America. The congregation’s general assembly is customarily held after every three years to evaluate the sisters’ way of life. This time around, the assembly was very different in the sense that it specifically focused on the ongoing formation of the sisters.
The meeting was guided by a theme on discernment which was facilitated by Fr. Tresford Chota and Fr. Methuli Moyo. Fr. Chota defined discernment as a way of being a disciple whose focus is on Jesus Christ. He advised the sisters to be different and unique in their calling.
‘All queens are women but not all women are queens, all nuns are women but not all women are nuns” stressed Fr. Chota.
The Superior General of the SJI Sisters, Sr. Patricia Rubaya addressed the sisters and expressed her gratitude towards the sisters for their selfless service to God and humankind. She clarified the purpose of the general assembly which she said was to celebrate the sisters’ togetherness and to encourage each other to remain committed to their calling.
“We gather together to show our solidarity with the universal Church which is on a synodal journey as encouraged by Pope Francis,” Sr. Rubaya stated.
She challenged the Sisters to discern their vocation by listening to the holy spirit and not to be experts in things that divert their focus from the Gospel.
“We are experts in listening to the television, the radio, the mobile phone but do we know how to listen to our own hearts? This prompted us to take discernment as a theme for our gathering because discernment is listening to the spirit and aligning ourselves in the direction the spirit wants us to go. Without discernment, we just grope in darkness,” Sr. Rubaya reiterated.
Sr. Rubaya reflected on the devastating effects of Covid-19 which claimed seven of their members. She said although the experience was traumatizing to the congregation, it also strengthened the bond and care among its members.
In his homily Bishop Rudolf Nyandoro acknowledged the sisters for their cooperation in the diocese of Gweru where they work in schools and hospitals, in pastoral activities and in administration. Bishop Nyandoro said the sisters were taking a lead in many aspects of Gweru Diocese and the entire Church.
To celebrate their togetherness, the sisters had choir competitions from seven deaneries which include Gweru, Masvingo, Kwekwe, Harare, Lowveld, Eastern and Chirumanzu. The elderly sisters also participated in the singing in which Gweru Deanery came tops, Masvingo Deanery 2, Harare Deanery 3, Chirumhanzu Deanery 4, Eastern Deneary 5, Lowveld and Kwekwe 6. Sr. Tendai Mangombe from Chirumhanzu Deanery was crowned for being the best choir conductor while the deaneries got their prices according to their positions.
The competition song was composed by Fr. Richard Majuta from the Archdiocese of Harare titled; ‘Makateketerwa kuna Mwari,’ which reflects about the consecration of religious women.