Joan Williams, OP and the Dominican Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus
On Friday, Apr. 6, 2018 Doris Regan, OP (Dominican Sister of Peace) and I, Joan Williams, OP, arrived in Harare, Zimbabwe, Africa after two days of travel and a six-hour time change. S. Rudo Shungu Matsika, OP, prioress of the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and all the sisters welcomed us with open hearts. We were given hospitality at the motherhouse where the first preaching workshop was held.
The workshop began on Monday, April 9, 2018 with twenty-four participants that included two women associates, four Dominican youth, finally and temporarily professed sisters and one recently ordained diocesan priest. He celebrated liturgy with us at 7:00 a.m. and gave Doris and I the opportunity to preach each day as part of the workshop. The days were full and long with the evenings free. Every member had the opportunity to preach on Saturday morning. This was followed by each receiving a certificate accompanied by drums, joyful applause and pictures taken. Everyone seemed content and anxious to share with those who could not attend the course.
The prioress of the Dominican Sisters in Zimbabwe, S. Rudo Shungu Masika said: “We now have a new beginning, we want to assume more consciously our identity as Dominican Preachers”.
“We are grateful for your generosity in teaching preaching to our sisters. We pray that as they remain connected to the vine, what they have received will bear fruit which can be shared by all.”
Picture of the participants in Harare, Zimbabwe
Sunday, April 15th was a day to visit with S. Rudo, the “House of Adoration” where the sisters who need more care reside, share lunch and see other mission works of the sisters in Harare. They dedicate themselves to health, education, orphanage for parentless children and the deaf.
On Monday, April 16th, we were on our way to Ndola, Zambia where the same community of sisters reside. The workshop began on Wednesday with twenty sister participants that included some older sisters, temporary professed and four second year candidates who will enter the novitiate at the completion of the year. The variety of ages added a positive dimension to the sharing. The presence and enthusiasm of the regional prioress, S. Christine Mwape, OP, added a special joy and energy to the group. After three days we recessed on Saturday to celebrate the 25-year anniversary of the hospital founded by the sisters. It was an all-day event with liturgy, dances, speeches and food. It was a remarkable day filled with joy and much deserved gratitude of the work of the sisters ministering to the poor.
The workshop resumed on Sunday and ended late Monday afternoon with each participant preaching. Everyone received a certificate accompanied by the song “Jubilate Deo” that we had sung throughout the workshop. We received a special thank you with the younger members and candidates doing a special dance.
In a note from S. Christine Mwape, OP (Regional Prioress of the Dominican Sisters in Ndola, Zambia) came this message:
“We thank God for making it possible for us to meet you our lovely Sisters, you are such a blessing. You gave us an experience of a lifetime, we will sure share the fruits of the workshop.”
We were privileged to have five days following the workshops to see the Victorian Falls, one of the World’s Seven Wonders. Three of the sisters in Ndola drove us two days there, one day at the Falls and two days back to Ndola just in time to prepare our leave-taking on Sunday, April 29th, feast of St. Catherine of Siena. We arrived in Columbus, OH on the 30th with a profound sense of gratitude and delightful satisfaction for the experience with our Dominican Sisters on the Continent of Africa. They were a delight and an inspiration.