, 04 June, 2020 / 4:45 AM
At celebrations marking 200 years since the Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Family of Bordeaux was founded, members of the French-founded Religious Order living their mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have been encouraged to turn to the Lord with “gratitude for the continued and countless blessings” as they seek to foster “a life of love in obedience and selflessness.”
“Celebrating this bicentenary should evoke in us gratitude for the continued and countless blessings from the Lord and in living communion and celebrating family among ourselves, with our sisters and brothers and with the community of life of all species. Being and building family is a joyful experience that is ever new and exciting,” Bishop José Moko Ekanga of DRC’s Idiofa Diocese said May 28 during Mass.
He added, “As members of the Holy Family of Bordeaux, you are called to imitate the life of Jesus, Mary and Joseph in the home of Nazareth – a life of silence and solitude hidden in God, a life of love in obedience and selflessness.”
The nuns belonging to the Congregation marked the bicentenary of the existence of their Religious Order with Eucharistic celebrations in various dioceses in DRC as well as in the twenty-five countries of the world where they are present.
Founded in 1820 in France under the name “Association of the Holy Family” by Fr. Pierre Bienvenu Noailles, a Priest of the Archdiocese of Bordeaux in France, the Congregation comprises religious and contemplative nuns, lay consecrated members, Priests who are associates, and members of the holy family youth.
Inspired by the life and the spirit of the Holy Family of Nazareth, the 200-year-old Order exists to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ through initiatives that serve to renew witnessing similar to that of the early Christian communities.
Guided by their charism, the members of the Holy Family of Bordeaux live in commitment to God within families, communities, neighborhoods and places of work through presence, prayer and service.
In the Archdiocese of Kinshasa, the Provincial Superior of Oblates of Mary Immaculate (OMI) in DRC, Fr. Joseph Ntumba, presided over the Bicentenary Jubilee Mass.
In his homily, Fr. Joseph urged the nuns to foster the charism of their Order by being true witnesses of life, being present and rendering services to the poor, offering catechesis to young people aimed at encouraging vocations.
He also encouraged them to take up initiatives that will guarantee financial autonomy for their Congregation.
On behalf of OMI members in DRC, the Provincial Superior also promised to continue supporting the nuns in their mission saying, “We are ready to render you services you request for the welfare of your congregation.”
The Congolese Cleric also highlighted the historical link between the two religious families whose founders were friends.
“Fr Pierre Bienvenu Noailles, founder of the Association of the Holy Family of Bordeaux, had entrusted his work in the good hands of his friend, Bishop Eugene de Mazenod, founder of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate,” Fr. Joseph recalled and added, “Noailles died on February 8, 1861 and Eugene de Mazenod on May 21 of the same year. But the story continued.”
He disclosed, “Even today, the Superior General of the Oblates still participates in the General Chapter of the Nuns of the Holy Family of Bordeaux.”
At the Bicentenary Jubilee Mass in Kinshasa, one of the members of the Holy Family of Bordeaux, Sr. Brunette Mumbimbi noted, “The context of the coronavirus pandemic demonstrates once again that we live in an interdependent and interconnected universe, where the charism of communion of the Association of the Holy Family of Bordeaux is more than relevant.”
“In a divided world seeking the values of communion, justice and peace, strengthened by our richness and diversity, our vocations of solidarity and complementarity, we are sent into every environment to make the universe one and the same family affirming the dignity of every human person with a preferential option for the poor so that the world may believe in Jesus and that communion is possible,” the Congolese nun said.
The Sisters of the Holy Family of Bordeaux are present in 25 countries spread across the continents of Europe, America, Asia and Africa. In Africa, they are present in South Africa, Lesotho, DRC Cameroon, Chad, Rwanda, Uganda, Burkina Faso, and Malawi.
ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.
Father Don Bosco Onyalla
Editor-in-Chief, ACI Africa