Sister Maria Linda Viano, who is serving at the Catholic-run Jacaranda Children’s Home in the Archdiocese of Blantyre, on Saturday celebrated her Silver Jubilee in sisterhood. JAMES CHIMPWEYA finds out from her what it feels to clock 25 years in sisterhood.
How do you describe your 25 years in service?
After the final commitment there is now what we call the mission of the congregation and church where you can be sent in many places to work. For me, it is now my 25th year since my first profession of vows—that is the cause of my celebration this year. I can describe these years as years of blessings and challenges. Soon after my profession I was asked to work in the orphanage, doing different kinds of job in the house. It is a service that needs patience and listening to God most of the times, and also being prayerful.
By the way, may we know you?
I am Sister Maria Linda Viano. I am the fourth-born in a family of two sons and seven daughters.
What is the name of your congregation?
It is called Sisters of Our Lady of Amersfoort. Amersfoort is the town in The Netherlands where the congregation started. Here in Malawi our regional house is at Stella Maris in Blantyre.
Who is a sister in the Catholic Church?
She is a member of the non-ordained group of the faithful called the laity, but she is, in a special way, a consecrated woman who is set apart for the mission of Christ and the Church. In this life there are some commitments which one makes. A sister takes vows of chastity, poverty and obedience.
What are your duties as a sister?
The duties of a sister in the Church first of all come from the founding spirit of the congregation one belongs to. In this I would like to explain that there are many congregations founded to be at the services of the Church. Some of the examples are those founded to care for the aged, the sick, the orphans and education of the poor.
How does one become a sister in your congregation?
She has to be a Catholic girl, baptised and confirmed. Most important of all, she must be someone who is hearing the call to this life. She must have a Malawi School Certificate of Education (MSCE) certificate and qualifies for training in a profession which is in line with the works of the congregation she wants to join. The journey begins with the first year of petulancy to familiarise with life as a religious sister. The next two years are for learning the spirituality and charisma of the congregation as well as deepening and discerning one`s calling. After that, we assume that one is ready to take the commitment of making the three vows I mentioned earlier. There is a chance of renewing these vows either every year or every two years while still discerning to make a final commitment, which normally is after five years from the first profession of the vows.
After going through that process, what followed for you?
I continued as a teacher and a formatter (a person who helps in forming young girls to become religious). I rendered my services with joy, love and good care as a religious woman. Besides, I have also come across many challenges in my service, but with God’s help I overcame them all, and here I am celebrating 25 fruitful years in my religious congregation. My advice to young girls is that they should aim at being women of integrity in whatever calling they choose. That requires perseverance and determination in life.
Finally, I thank God for keeping me with a strong life in faith up to this day.
Your advice to girls who aspire to become sisters?
They can contact any sister at Stella Maris [Secondary School] by calling to 01 11 980 498 and we can give them information concerning religious life. But before that, they have to be obedient before God, live a faithful life, spend time meditating upon the word of God.