Religious Sisters are synonymous with the Roman Catholic but as from what Gladson Mbumpha gathered about a recent service, there are also Religious Sisters in the Anglican Communion Novice Mistress SISTER MARTHA THEU talks more. Excerpt;
What was the service all about?
Tiyanjane Hassan now Sister Lucia from St. Andrews Anglican Parish in Mangochi was officially clothed as a Novice Sister of the Sisters of St. Mary after completing her one-year postulancy period. The ceremony is a religious service whereby a postulant (a first stage in sisterhood) of the community formally becomes a novice (a beginner) and begins the period of formation in the way and spirit of the community. The ceremony is characterised by a novice sister receiving a religious habit or common attire of the community and when necessary, a new name in religion. She pledges before God to be faithful to the rules of community.
Who attends such a ceremony?
It is limited to those invited to follow all Covid-19 precautions.
What else happened?
The community also received six new associates who are aspirants and in their early stages of becoming sisters. Associates in general are men and women who live their life in the world, but associated with the community and live by their rule of life. They pledge to support the sisters in a community through their services or financial support if possible.
What is the community of St. Mary?
It is the first indigenous and existing religious order to be founded in the Anglican Church in Malawi. It is under the Diocese of Northern Malawi and based in Mzuzu’s Luwinga Township, where the convent is located. It is the only community house in the entire country and has seven sisters— three life professed sisters (full Sisters), two junior sisters and two novice sisters, plus the aspirants.
When was it founded?
The community was founded in 1999, the convent was built in 2002 and the community was officially dedicated and inaugurated in 2005 when the first four sisters made their final vows to God on May 14 2005.
Where else do we find such communities?
So far, we have religious sisters and brothers in Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Zambia, South Africa and more that started long time ago.
What do the sisters do?
The first and important work for the sisters of St. Mary is prayer as their calling is to commit themselves to the life of prayer. They pray for the world and the church. This is fulfilled through their daily liturgical cooperate worship in common which is centered at the daily celebration of Eucharist and it is supplemented by daily personal prayers and meditation. Normally there are morning prayers followed by Eucharist, then Terse prayers (mid-morning), Sext prayers (at noon), vespers coming at the evening and compline which comes at night. It is a daily routine.
The sisters also serve Christ in the Church by offering different services such as running the schools and taking care of orphans. For example, Holy Innocent Kindergarten and St. Teresa orphan care where the orphan and needy children are supported from their home by providing them with basic needs. They are followed through and provided with school necessities even when in University. There is a good number of graduates from our community.
Does the church fund the community?
Sisters make church vestments such as clergy shirts, preaching gowns, chasubles, Albs, Stoles and many more which are sold to support themselves. Farming is also an important concept of a Benedictine community. They also grow their own food.
What is your advice?
As Christians, we should continue praying, supporting and encouraging one another, including Sister Lucia in her vocation to the Sisterhood, otherwise congratulations to her for taking a very big step in her life in saying yes to the Lord’s calling and taking a second step in religious life. May God bless her parents too for offering the daughter to the service of our blessed Lord Jesus. We should continue praying for God’s intervention over Covid-19 and encourage one another to be following laid down preventive measures. God will bless us all.