Meet the Pallottine Sisters, Kigali, Rwanda
Vocation: “I am Sister Cécire, 49 years from Masaka, I have three sisters and one brother.
“Not all the members of my family were so happy with my decision to become a sister – especially because I had a job that I had to leave… But I see these difficulties as a way to make my vocation stronger. I decided to join the Pallottine Sisters because I could witness the commitment of the missionary sisters, and their compassion for the poor and ordinary people. Also the life of Saint Vicent Pallotti is also impressive for me, he didn't put limits on the help he gave to the people. This is what I liked. It is the way to thank God, to offer my life for others.
I like to find time for prayer, and also I am very glad in the moments that I can help people, especially when they can change their life (material or spiritual), for the better, I am very happy about these moments. I could have given my life in different ways, I could have had my own family and children, but it makes me happy to have no limits in my love to everybody, I feel free to help and love all people, my family is the whole community.
“I meditate on one sentence of the second chapter of the prophet Hosea: “And I will betroth you to me forever”. I am chosen by God and to be always with Him. There is another sentence from Saint Vicent Pallotti that helps me in my prayers: “The love of Christ urges us on” When you have love you cannot be tired, you are happy to give what you have received.
“My name is Sister Bellancilla. I am the superior of the congregation in Masaka. We are eight sisters in Masaka, Kigali in Rwanda. [Sr. Angelina, Sr. Cécire, Sr. Goretti, Sr. Delphine, Sr. Josephine, Sr. Diana, Sr. Crementina and myself]. One sister is from the Congo and the others are from Rwanda, they are between 25 and 60 years. I'm the oldest sister in this community. I made my first profession in 1986.
“Young people feel attracted by our charisma. Our founder St. Vincent Pallotti was a very holy man, who helped the simple and poor people, the orphans and the sick. They are interested in joining our congregation so that afterwards they will also help care and visit the people in need. When they see the sisters they can see that we work very hard but the sisters are always very happy. We have nine novices in the second year: three from the Congo, the others from Rwanda and in the first year we have five, two from the Congo and three from Rwanda.
- Mission (explained by Sister Bellancilla)
“The sisters in Masaka are working in the health-center, others are working in the secondary and primary school, we also attend the kindergarten and we help the orphans and the poor people. We also visit the old people in their houses. We bring them the Eucharist, sometimes help them with food as well. And we do other things.
“Our big challenges are to tend to all the needs. We know that if we have nothing to give them, the elderly, the sick and the poor people stay at home alone; there is nobody to be with them. If our house didn't have the possibility to become a home for these people we couldn’t solve their problems.
“The other difficulty is the lack of people, like in the health-center; our sister is working there alone until now. There are so many challenges in the health-center that other sisters became sick due to so much stress with the difficulties, obligations and problems.
“My council to the people is “to love each other”, this is the most important if we love the others as Jesus did we would not have more war in our countries. If you love your neighbour, you can't kill him. If you have something to eat you can share with him... that is love. Then we can help sick and poor people so the most important thing to be free and happy… is to love!
“In Africa before we had big families. But now also things are changing in Rwanda. Some elderly people stay alone because their children are living in the city (Kigali) and they come here to buy a small house for their parents. They come only sometimes to look for them. So things are changing. In some families you can see the grandchildren living with the old people but some of them live alone. The children come only sometimes to give them something. But there are also elderly people alone because their children were killed during the genocide.
“Some women stay alone with their children, because the men have left the family. There are not so many families like that. But we are suffering the consequences of the war. Since the genocide some men grew up as orphans without their parents. They loset everything; they didn’t have a family or any education. This is the fruit of this trauma. They are married but they are not strong enough to handle problems.
“Today in many families there is no opportunity for a good education. Parents are there but because of the war they are not able to give formation. We try to give a good education to the children. We ask some people to organise meetings with the parents to speak with them and to give them support, even psychological support. When the children have problems we ask the parents. And we can see many problems come from the family, because the parents are not united.
“Forgiveness and reconciliation are still very important. The Church continues to organize programs to help the people in this still much needed area.
“The sisters help us, when we have a problem they are always there. They care about us, they go to visit us and love us. They help us in a material and a spiritual way. They give us advice as well. And the Pallottine Sisters take care of the children at the school. Finally, in the health center, even if we don’t have any money they treat us. If they were not here, we would lack everything. The sisters are very important for us.
If we go to the hospital or to other places for treatment, we have the feeling that we are not so important, we could die waiting for treatment and nobody would care about us. The sisters are different, they show us love from the first moment we enter the place.” Angeline Cabire, 57, widow and mother of 8 children, the youngest died.
“You have seen today how they help us in the care center. We are very impressed with the work of the sisters. If somebody is sent to the sisters because there are sick people at home, the sisters come to us in our homes, nobody will do this here… There is another hospital which is not far, they could treat us but they are not taking care of us… there are two things: the actual treatment and the human aspect, the Christian dimension of love…” Mkasumi Mariana, she had more children, but only 6 survive.
“I thank God who called you, Pallottine Sisters; I thank God for your vocation. I thank God for all you are doing for us, for your love to the poor and people in need, I have seen this. I met you and you came to help me."
"I don’t know if I would survive if the sisters were not here. They help me in everything: to find a house, they brought me to the hospital, they take my children to the school and make sure we have something to eat…. Probably I would die if the sisters weren’t here.I thank all the benefactors who are helping the sisters because the support to them is in turn very important for each one of us."
I was living in a suffering part of the country, called Katagara, where we had a center for disabled people founded by a priest, I moved to Gikondo Kigali, it was a pallottine parish, and they came to visit me, I didn’t have a house, I had nothing to live… But it was God’s providence that I was living not far from the convent and they helped me. It was the second time; I got people to help me to live. “ Man in wheelchair.