By Leela Ramdeen, Chair, CCSJ & Director, CREDI
Good news! Pope Francis has appointed the first female Consultors—four, including three religious—to the Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops.
In March this year, Ines San Martin of Crux reported that the latest numbers from the Church’s statistical yearbook says “there are over 650,000 religious sisters who dedicate their lives to prayer and service to those most in need”.
She was reporting on a new campaign launched by the Pontifical Foundation ‘Aid to the Church in Need’ (ACN) that ran during Lent and Easter, praising religious life as the “beating heart of the Church” having an impact on countless lives around the world.
ACN states that they are “the living witnesses of God’s love…extraordinary women who embrace the Gospel and the call to go and proclaim the Good News to all Creation.”
ACN is “a pontifical foundation that helps Christian communities suffering from persecution, oppression or that are in need”. This year’s Lenten campaign raised money for religious who work in countries “hit by war, poverty or where Christians are a minority”.
Dr Thomas Heine-Geldern, executive president of ACN states: “Religious sisters are the heroines of the Church. They show us a way to holiness and set an example for a happy and meaningful life. This can also be the way to healing for a society marked by ongoing discussion about the role of women.
“What would the Church and society be without religious sisters? This is true in many countries: When the government breaks down and all organisations leave because of the tense security situation—the religious sisters are the ones who stay. Anyone who has put their faith in the prayers of the religious sisters in a time of personal need knows how uplifting it is to be spiritually sustained and supported.”
Martin reminds us that “Religious sisters run kindergartens, orphanages, schools, medical facilities and parishes in war zones, in remote mountain areas in Latin America and continue being what Pope Francis called ‘the praying heart of the Church’ by living in cloisters throughout Eastern Europe.”
T&T owes a debt of gratitude to religious sisters from various Congregations. I am grateful to the Holy Faith Sisters for their role, not only in my education at Holy Faith Convent, but for the opportunity to serve on the Board of Credo Foundation for Justice.
Recently I had lunch in London with my friend and Fr Garfield Rochard’s cousin, Trinidad-born Sr Monica Tywang, a Sister of the Daughters of Wisdom (La Sagesse). She celebrated her 80th birthday on December 18, 2018. Sr Monica has devoted her life to serve others selflessly.
Her involvement with the community has been wide-ranging. Read about her various roles in the UK on the website of the London-based organisation, Descendants, of which she is a patron, and in a 2007 interview with her in UK’s Church Times.
As a priest said at an annual Mass before Notting Hill Carnival, Sr Monica has “an impressive 50-year record of sterling social and community work, and is known for her far-reaching pastoral care to people across all sectors of society…Her work, specifically with the Caribbean community across Britain, has been tireless… She is active on various boards and community groups including the British Caribbean Association, the Mary Seacole Memorial Association, and the Catholic Commission for Racial Justice.”
She has been a key contributor to the development of Children’s Carnival in Notting Hill Carnival. Sr Monica is also a trained nurse. In the late 1970s and early 1980s the late Cardinal Basil Hume appointed her to work with the Caribbean Chaplaincy team in the Diocese of Westminster.
Let us pray for vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life. May the Lord help religious priests, brothers and sisters to live their vocation with holiness and joy.
Sr Monica Tywang. Source: churchtimes.co.uk