Lubumbashi (Democratic Republic of the Congo). On 8 December 2020, the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians of Our Lady of Africa Province (AFC) of Central Africa celebrated the 50th anniversary of the canonical erection.
The festivities began with the Eucharistic Celebration, presided over by Msgr. Gédéon, Episcopal Vicar of Lubumbashi, concelebrated by fifteen diocesan priests and five religious priests, to thank God for the work of evangelization carried out by the FMA through educational and charitable activities, and to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the religious profession of Sr. Cécile Ngosa, FMA, of the Province.
In his homily, Archbishop Gédéon, referring to the biblical passage from Leviticus – “You will declare this fiftieth year holy… it will be a Jubilee for you” (Lev 25) – invited the FMA to take a double glance: on the past to reread the origins, the unfolding of events, the emotions experienced, and the fruits gathered, finding reasons to give thanks. And on the future, exhorting to live today under the gaze of Christ as consecrated women, as an offering to God at the service of humanity, and with Mary Immaculate as model and Mother.
After the homily, Sister Cécile Ngosa renewed her Profession and expressed her joy with her song: “This beautiful poem has sprung from my heart, I offer my whole life to the Lord”. Sister Marie Dominique Mwema Mukato, AFC Provincial, placed a crown on her head and gave her a candle as signs of fidelity. As a final thanksgiving, the aspirants performed a choreography on the passage from the Wedding at Cana, “Do whatever he tells you” (Jn 2:5).
At the end of the celebration, Sr. Marie Dominique summarized the history of the AFC Province, from the arrival of the first Daughters of Mary Help of Christians to today. The FMA arrived in the Congo on 24 January 1926. The first community, Mary Help of Christians, was made up of six pioneers and settled in Sakania, taking care of catechesis, the oratory, and literacy activities.
The Provincial outlined the figure of Sr. Mathilde Meukens, Animator of the small group of pioneer FMA, a prophetic woman. She also presented and thanked Sr. Léocadie Kilufya, the first Congolese FMA, for having opened the way for about a hundred girls who later became Daughters of Mary Help of Christians.
The Province of Our Lady of Africa, canonically erected on 19 November 1969, today has 19 communities included in the realities of 6 Provinces and 7 ecclesiastical Dioceses of the Democratic Republic of Congo. For reasons related to the Covid-19 pandemic, it was decided to celebrate the event on the significant date of the beginning of Don Bosco’s work, 8 December.
After Holy Mass, the feast continued in the external courtyards. The FMA Novices presented a recital on the Wedding at Cana, interspersed with songs, dances, and choreographies.