Oasis In The Desert
By Sr. Mary Ignatius Aquino osb
Sister Mary Ignatius Aquino was appointed to the difficult task of Novice Directress in Ndanda Priory, Tanzania. Here she shares her reflection.
Tanzania is a poor country on the west coast of Africa but it is rich in faith. So what better place for the ancient order of St. Benedict to come and set up monasteries as havens of prayer, peace and love. Sr. Mary Ignatius Aquino, a Filipino Benedictine, has been appointed to the Ndanda priority in Tanzania as Novice Mistress. Her job is to introduce young Nigerian women to the spiritual life and equip them with the convictions that will help them to persevere in their journey to holiness.
The Ndanda Priory is composed of mostly German Sisters, a few Swiss, some Tanzanian junior Sisters and few from countries like Poland, Philippines and the United States. The international character of our congregation is enriching and challenging. It’s great to see the perseverance of our Sisters in bearing with their old age and sickness, in carrying out and seeing through their big hospital and leprosarium apostolates and staying until death in areas where they are sent. Living the elderly, the middle-aged and the young provided me with a complete cycle of human life’s experience.
One of the burning needs of the Ndanda’s Priory is the formation of young Tanzanian women who want to join our congregation. Right now, there are four Novices, three postulants and six aspirants. They came from the different regions of Tanzania.
As Novice Directress, I give lessons in consecrated life and the rule of St. Benedict. I also give regular spiritual direction and formative counseling to the Novices and Postulants. Accompanying these young Nigerian women in their religious vacation brought me face to face with God, with others and with myself.
God as Formator
As a Formator in Africa, I’ve started to learn again like a child. In my relationship with the Formandees, I had to trust that their motivations are good and I had to trust that it is our Lord who called us to live in the Community. Above all, I had to trust that God is the Formator and it is to Him that each one had to render an account.
I love where I am for I believe that it is God who sent me. Like St. Ignatius of Loyola, I pray: “Your love and your grace are enough for me.” I am happy to be a pat of the history of our first mission country founded by Fr. Andreas Amrhein, osb and to rebuilt and develop or mission in Tanzania. May our Holy Father St. Benedict continue to intercede for us that our monasteries my become oases in the desert where anyone could find peace and delight in the Lord.