THE BLOOD OF OUR MARTYRS STAYS ALIVE
Fifty-seven years after the death of our sisters Maria del Buen Consejo, Maria Candida, Maria Justa, and Maria Olimpia, the blood of our martyr sisters watered in African lands is still very much alive among us. Their spirit is very present in our midst. As they say “blood of martyrs, seed of a Christian” that is exactly what we contemplated on November 28th, the wonders of the Lord, here in Luanda, in one of the parishes of this capital, the parish of San Jose, located in Cazenga, a neighborhood on the outskirts where almost everything is lacking, and the level of crime is high.
At this moment, I would like to share with you, my sisters, the joy that we experienced as a community, province and personally on the 1st Sunday of Advent. God who comes to visit us and make his home among us, fed our hearts, our soul and in our congregational sense of much Hope. And it is this Hope that we are filled with and nourished with when we see 30 children, including teenagers and young people, making their commitment in our congregation as Lay Martyrs of the Missionary Dominican of the Rosary. We are committed to living our martyrdom spirituality, which is the life of surrender in the mission, as Christians and committed Christians in the church and to witness to Jesus Christ in the environment in which they live. It is a group of lay people who was born in 2014 in the mission of Kalandula, on the occasion of the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the death of our Sister Martyrs of Congo. This group was founded by our sister Micheline Moungue, a Congolese, ex. juniorate who did the novitiate internship in the community of Kalandula that same year. Inspired and touched by the witness of life of the Martyrs Sisters, which is the life of surrender in the Mission to the point of giving life, she formed the small group of teenagers with this same spirituality; what once seemed to be a simple dream has now become a great reality. Currently the group is growing and spreading to other parishes and localities. The group’s expansion also reached the capital – Luanda, through a young university student, who took the initiative to form the same group in his parish in the Cazenga neighborhood. It is a neighborhood with a high level of delinquency and God allowed our spirituality to reach it too and for our name to be known and exalted in that place in the person of our Lay Martyrs. So, after 2 years of walking with the group, formation and accompaniment supported by the novitiate, they decided to make the public commitment on November 28th, as it is the closest date to the 25th, which marks the 57th anniversary of the death of our Martyr Sisters. It was a unique Eucharistic celebration marked by all of us. The children’s faces radiated the joy and fervor of being a “MARTIR” of today, in their neighborhood, in their parish, in the bosom of the family to be exemplary and in their reality. We had 3 Sisters, 3 novices, 3 aspirants, 2 married MDR lay adults and 1 ex. adult intern at Kalandula boarding school in the 1960s. It was a day lived with great emotion and great satisfaction. Our faces glowed with joy and light for so many wonders that God has been working in us in a special way in this month of November marked by many congregational events and knowing that our name as a congregation will reach further even in those places where we are not present, but through our lay people our charism will expand more and more, all thanks to the people linked to us by a single spirit.
The Eucharistic celebration had four important moments: the call, the promise, the giving of symbols and thanksgiving. After the priest’s homily, the most awaited moment arrived, the commitment, that was reflected in these words:
“God the Father Almighty, you who sent your Son Jesus Christ our Savior into the world who, by the action of the Holy Spirit, called your handmaids, MARIA DEL BUEN CONSEJO, MARIA CANDIDA, MARIA JUSTA, and MARIA OLIMPIA to the vocation of martyrs shedding her blood in lands of Africa and witnessed their faith to the death, with courage and without fear of losing their lives.
I (full name), make a commitment, to follow in the footsteps of these brave women, to announce the name of Jesus without fear to everyone, especially to those people who still do not know Christ and in those places that the church needs me most, according to the Charism of the Missionary Dominican Sisters of the Rosary. I ask with the help of God and Mary our mother to be faithful every day of my life. AMEN ”
- Conveying the word of God to all people and reaching out to those most in need of conversion.
- Make Mary Mother of Jesus known through the rosary prayer
- Assume sacrifice and surrender at all costs as part of our spirituality
- Be an exemplary Christian among me
Next was the blessing and delivery of the symbols that are: the white t-shirt, the red scarf and a rosary. Sense of received symbols:
- RED SCARF: symbolizes the blood shed by our martyr sisters: MARIA DEL BUEN CONSEJO, MARIA CANDIDA, MARIA JUSTA, and MARIA OLIMPIA, in the lands of Africa – Democratic Congo.
- THE WHITE NIGHTDRESS: conversion commitment. The white color is the color of purity, the effort to always do good works that dignify the group.
- THE ROSARY: symbolizes the presence of Mary, our mother, in our lives and in the missionary work that they will carry out.
The group’s motto: A surrender at all risks and opened to the world.
Finally, the song of the Martyrs was sung, a composition by our sister Maria Njamba:
- “The example of our Martyrs is the stimulus for all generations, yesterday, today and forever. Missionaries let us raise our voices in favor of life, let us take the gospel to everyone as Candida, Justa, Olimpia and Buen Consejo. You will always be in our hearts, we will never forget you, because you are the example of love, of love for the gospel,
- The blood of our Martyrs in mission and in Africa has grown stronger and it is our option for the poor.”
After Mass, the celebrant encouraged the group to continue their mission and praised their presence and example in that Christian community. He also invited us to mark our presence as a congregation more often in that parish.
The second part of the party was a small meal organized by themselves. The level of organization caught our attention, they did little, but it meant sharing and unity. It reminded me of the parable of the multiplication of the loaves and the story of the poor widow who gave all she had. We were speechless! We all ate and were satisfied as a result of their sharing. Then, there was a lot of fun, dancing and cake cutting. We ended the day all happy and with our duties accomplished. A day lived with great intensity and full of emotions, where I experienced everything, especially knowing how to be happy with the little you have.
We ended the day with a sense of family and great responsibility. Despite the distance, we promise to mark our presence more, continue to expand our missionary spirit in other places, where the church needs us most and where they still don’t know us, and thus spread our mission, charism in the church and in the world.
We feel grateful for this presence of God who came to visit us in this way. Today, the mission to spread the word of God belongs to everyone. To be a missionary, age and social status do not matter. A child with a Christian orientation will be easier to positively influence other children, teenagers, and young people alike and it was this message that we left for them to be the yeast in the dough, that their presence in that neighborhood known as the place of a lot of crime to be a different type of presence, one that transmits the love of God as our sister Martyrs did.
All these events reveal to us the presence of God who walks with us, at a time when at the congregational level we are celebrating the 100th anniversary of the death of our Father Founder and at the provincial level we were celebrating the Easter of our sister Innocence, a great woman and example of dedication to the mission just to complete 57 years of its presence in Angola as a great missionary of the first line, in the good and difficult moments of the mission of Kalandula, it was always beside the people without fearing death as it was during the war. May her presence and example of mission continue to live on in us!
Everything is grace and everything is life!
LONG LIVE OUR MARTYRS!
LIVE THE MISSIONARY DOMINICAN OF THE ROSARY!