Uganda/Cameroon Journal: Part 2
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December 2, 2010 – Thursday

Opening of the Centenary Celebration of the Daughters of Mary-Bannabikira Sisters of Bwanda

Our first activity of the morning was to attend daily Mass. All the festive music and singing made it a special liturgy for us. Sr. Justine sits just in front of us and she has helped us with interpretation and keeping on track during prayer and liturgy. It was the first time we had experienced clapping after the elevation of the Eucharistic bread and the wine.

The small bananas here are especially tasty and the pineapple was so sweet and juicy because it had been picked the day before.

The small bananas here are especially tasty and the pineapple was so sweet and juicy because it had been picked the day before.

After the Mass we went to breakfast. All the food for meals is grown here on the sisters’ property. The small bananas here are especially tasty and the pineapple was so sweet and juicy because it had been picked the day before. Cooked bananas often served with peanut sauce are a staple at most meals. Hard-boiled brown eggs or scrambled eggs with onion and tomato have been served for breakfast, along with bread and jam.

Srs. Jacqueline and Anita had a reunion visit with Sr. Noelina, DM, who had resided at St. Joseph Residence while she was attending Seattle University. Sr. Noelina is now the principal of the high school of 700 students that is on the property. She asked about many Sisters of Providence by name. She was proud to tell us that the jacket she was wearing had been given to her by Sr. Anne Deuprey. Srs. Karin, Judy, and Mary visited briefly with Srs. Teresa of Avila, Marie Leonsia, Mary Petronilla and Mother Vincent, their classmates in Sister Formation.

As Sr. Anita was walking down the hall with Sr. Jane Frances, DM, her brother called her on her new phone. He asked to talk to Sr. Anita and expressed to her his deep appreciation to all the Sisters of Providence for being so good to his sister.

Our scheduled time together began by meeting a group of five persons from West Seattle led by Tim Law, a major benefactor of the Daughters of Mary. Tim has been here with groups a number of times to introduce them to the ministries of the sisters. Holy Rosary Parish in West Seattle is a strong supporter of the Daughters of Mary. Their group

joined us for a tour of the different endeavors which sisters have started on the property to support themselves and to meet their own needs.

There is a demand for their candles, but because they do the work without modern machinery they cannot meet the requests.

There is a demand for their candles, but because they do the work without modern machinery they cannot meet the requests.

Our first stop was at the two buildings where they make candles by hand. There is a demand for their candles, but because they do the work without modern machinery they cannot meet the requests. We saw the candles that had been made especially for their 100-year celebration and would be used in the opening ceremony later in the day.

Next, we visited the retired sisters’ sanitarium (infirmary), where many of the sisters were sitting on a porch, waiting to meet us.

From there, we went inside to meet those sisters who were bedridden, and then to meet the other retired sisters. The rooms are very small and common spaces very limited. The hope is to be able to build a new infirmary and retirement center as one of the centenary projects. Sisters of Providence, Mother Joseph Province, are making a contribution to this project.

As we were walking along the sidewalk, we discovered another of the sisters’ activities. They were spreading reeds grown on their property out to dry and use to make whisk brooms.

Our next stop was in the area where they make and sell vestments. The beautiful special vestments they made for the 100th anniversary were on display. Sr. Jacqueline purchased a very attractive set of red vestments for St. Joseph Residence.

From the dispensary we walked to the shop where they make and sell shoes of various styles. This is where most of the sisters’ shoes are made.

From the dispensary we walked to the shop where they make and sell shoes of various styles. This is where most of the sisters’ shoes are made.

There is a dispensary on the property to take care of sisters or students who are ill or injured. They have an ambulance to transport serious cases to the hospital. From the dispensary we walked to the shop where they make and sell shoes of various styles. This is where most of the sisters’ shoes are made.

Another project of the sisters is to make hosts. We watched the machine put the batter on a flat iron, than put another iron on the top. It processed through the machine and came out at the bottom, cooked and flat. In the next room was another machine that cut the circles and sent them through a chute, where they dropped into a bucket on the floor.

In the next room was another machine that cut the circles and sent them through a chute, where they dropped into a bucket on the floor.

In the next room was another machine that cut the circles and sent them through a chute, where they dropped into a bucket on the floor.

Across the street is the BANNAFONT Water Plant, where they bottle their own water. The water has

been tested and approved as safe for drinking and marketing. The water is collected from the rain in an elaborate system, then purified. The water contains trace minerals and fluoride. We have consumed many bottles since we have been here. The tap water is unsafe to drink.

Our last stop before lunch was to meet with the novices, of which they have twenty-nine. We were greeted by a welcoming song. Introductions were followed by more singing and some dancing. As we closed our time with them, we sang our short Providence hymn.

Later in the afternoon, the opening of the Centenary Celebration took place at Villa-Maria Church, which is about a mile down the road. This is the local church where Archbishop Henry Streicher, founder of the Daughters of Mary, is buried.

Across the street, where the gathering began, was the land where the first novitiate was located. It was from this spot that a procession was formed to enter the church. It was led by a band and followed by the many Daughters of Mary in order of their profession, beginning with the youngest. Each class had a sign they held indicating the year.

Srs. Karin, Mary and Judy found their class year and processed in with the Daughters of Mary. Guests followed after the sisters. All participants held candles which had been made in the candle shop. There was a lengthy benediction service with much music and singing. At the conclusion, the opening of the Centenary was declared. The procession exited the church and the participants lined up on the steps for picture taking.

Afterward, the procession re-formed by class, beginning with the oldest, and everyone proceeded up the road to the cemetery, where the deceased Daughters of Mary are buried.

Afterward, the procession re-formed by class, beginning with the oldest, and everyone proceeded up the road to the cemetery, where the deceased Daughters of Mary are buried.

Afterward, the procession re-formed by class, beginning with the oldest, and everyone proceeded up the road to the cemetery, where the deceased Daughters of Mary are buried. Prayers and songs were sung at the grave of the foundress, Mother Michtilde. At the end of the service, the lighted candles were left on the raised cement tombs of all the sisters. Against the dark night sky, all the lighted candles held by everyone and then on the graves was such an inspiring sight.

After the graveside service, people gathered on the porch of the motherhouse and singing and dancing began.  At one point, Mother Rosemary began introducing guests, including our delegation. We were very warmly received and Sr. Karin was given the opportunity to express appreciation for the longstanding friendship and affection between our two communities and for the invitation to join this very special celebration. Priests, sisters and lay guests from Tanzania arrived just before everyone dispersed.

December 3, 2010 – Anniversary Date of Foundation

December 3 is the actual 100th anniversary of the foundation of the Daughters of Mary, the Bannabikira Sisters of Uganda. The celebration today was that of the sisters and a certain number of invited guests. All present met in front of the first administration building, which currently is the house of the Masaka regional superior.

Sisters, clergy and guests marched in procession along the half mile to reach the chapel in the mother house.

Sisters, clergy and guests marched in procession along the half mile to reach the chapel in the mother house.

Sisters, clergy and guests marched in procession along the half mile to reach the chapel in the mother house. A band of seminarians led the music, and also other songs were started by the sisters. We Sisters of Providence processed directly behind the Daughters of Mary, as all passed by their schools on the grounds. Adults and children were standing along the way, waving and joining in the singing. It was a beautiful day, sunny and warm, and everyone was jubilant as the celebration began. At the head of the procession were eleven girls in bark dresses, as they were 100 years ago.  They carried palm branches, tied with yellow ribbon, representing the first Daughters of Mary, who pronounced their vows in 1910.

The jubilee year’s preparation began in 2007. During the three years, each year was dedicated to one of the vows as it related to the jubilee theme of “Rooted in Christ, We Venture with Hope.” Today the Sisters are expressing gratitude for all that God has given them from their beginning up to now. The Mass celebrant was the papal nuncio for Uganda, Archbishop Paul In-Nam, with concelebrants Bishop Jean Baptist Kaggwa of Masaka Diocese; Vicar of Religious Msgr. Gervase Mukasa; chaplains of the sisters and their schools on the compound, Fathers Francis Xavier Musolooza and Cosmas Kaboggoza; and Seattle visitor Fr. John Madigan, pastor of Holy Rosary Parish.

We arrived in the chapel to our marching music, and it was filled with people when the liturgy began at 10:45 a.m. Sister Anna Benigna was the mistress of ceremonies and acknowledged the eleven representatives of the first sisters. Over the years, there have been 2,020 Daughters of Mary, and currently there are more than 600 sisters. They minister in various dioceses in Uganda, and also in Kenya and Tanzania. It was recalled that the White Fathers and Brothers first set foot on Ugandan soil at Entebbe, the first Catholic missionaries. One priest planted a tree in the area where the parish church was set up in Bugonga; a tree that never loses its leaves. Thus it is seen as the continual presence among the people.

Archbishop In-Nam offered the Mass in English. A large choir of men, women and sisters was spirited and enlivening and sang throughout the Mass in Luganda, English and Latin, accompanied by organ, a keyboard instrument and the seminarians’ band. The Gloria, in Luganda, was lively, beautiful and filled with clapping. The readings alternated between Luganda and English. At the end of the second reading, the reader said, “Believers, what you have heard is the Word of God.” And we responded, “Thanks be to God.”

In Archbishop In-Nam‘s homily, he said: “Dear Sisters, ‘Daughters of the Blessed Virgin Mary,’ I rejoice with you for the celebration of the first centenary of your existence as a missionary congregation … We give thanks to God and praise Him for all the graces bestowed upon your congregation and the Local Church. Yours was the first woman congregation of Central Africa to be called by God in the great modern missionary movement, of which the White Fathers are such an eminent expression. It was Bishop Streitcher who, burning with zeal for the Mission, called the first members … to give their lives to Christ and to be sent for taking care of the education, health and welfare especially of girls … .”

He continued, “I would like to start for our lambs a congregation of native women who would work tirelessly for the salvation of souls in a motherly spirit.” By choosing the name ‘Bannabikira,’ he indicated what would be the special charism of its sisters: that is, following the example of the Virgin Mary, to be mothers of all nations, especially the needy … “Looking back to the history of your congregation, we realize that there are two important aspects … which constitute your charism. The first one is the vocation to stay with the Lord and be sent to serve the mission … The second one is the care for formation of the sisters to help them perform a service with professional competence … .“

Quoting the homily of Pope Benedict XVI on the 14th Day of Consecrated Life, on February 2, 2010, he said, “Consecrated life remains a privileged school of ‘compunction of heart,’ of the humble recognitions of one’s poverty, but it likewise remains a school of trust in God’s mercy, in his love that never abandons us … There are three essential elements of religious life: 1) friendship with Christ, 2) a complete gift of oneself to God, and 3) a life of communion. May all of this aid you in your apostolic mission and religious life, so urgently needed today. And always, Mary is your model and mother.”

At the Prayers of the Faithful, our response was sung: “God the Father, hear our prayer, hear us God the Son, Holy Spirit, hear our prayer, mercy on your people, Lord,” for the English intentions. The same was sung in Luganda for the Luganda intentions. At the presentation of gifts, symbols of the community were brought forth: a rooster, a small bucket, a bouquet of flowers, a reed mat (carried by Sr. Jane Frances), a small mango tree (carried by Sr. Noelina), a basket, a large bundle of bananas wrapped in leaves, and the bread and wine for Eucharist. The thanksgiving after Communion was a dance by some of the sisters of Our Lady of Fatima, during which there was occasional and spontaneous ululating.

At the end of Mass, the Bannabikira sang their community anthem, and all the sisters present who were able, knelt for a prayer of consecration, than they sang the Magnificat. Bishop Kaggwa thanked the papal nuncio, and also said to imagine the joy of Bishop Streitcher on December 3, 1910, and the joy for him to see what has become of the Daughters of Mary today.

Mother Rosemary, in the name of the congregation, thanked all who participated in this liturgical celebration, with great gratitude to God, who has sustained them over these 100 years. She acknowledged the three sisters who are celebrating 75 years as Daughters of Mary. Then she said how happy all the sisters are to fulfill their mission of evangelizing, in the way of Mary, in humility and love for one another, with their virtues of self-denial and fortitude.  She asked pardon for any failings, and asked that all of them pray to be faithful to their charism and mission. After Mass, the little mango tree from the offertory procession was planted near the Infirmary.

Lunch was served in the dining room for all guests and sisters. Around 3:30 p.m., all turned their attention to one end of the dining room for the entertainment and acknowledgments. Sr. Esperanza was the mistress of ceremonies for the occasion, announcing the numerous acts that included: singers, dancers, drummers, many in traditional dress, all with sustained energy and movement throughout the songs and dances.

Students from Daughters of Mary schools were part of some of the acts, as well as a group of Sisters of Our Lady of Fatima. Mother Rosemary spoke and recognized various people and groups: the 2010 Jubilarians, the chaplain, the Sisters of Providence, a benefactor of the centenary who had died before the celebration, and the former Mother General, Mother Mary Magdelan de Pazzi, who began the preparations.

Several groups and individuals were acknowledged and spoke: a group from Germany presented a wall hanging with symbols of both Uganda and Germany, and also presented a monetary gift from a woman in Holland; Fr. Lucas from Kenya shared congratulations from the bishop of his diocese, where Daughters of Mary have been since 1978; several parish priests were introduced; Fr. Julius from Tanzania congratulated the sisters on behalf of his diocese because there the Daughters of Mary are cherished, and please send more! Reit Nouwens, Mother Mechtilde’s grandniece, brought greetings from the family in Holland and a monetary gift.

The program ended with Msgr. Gervase Mukasa, vicar for religious in the Masaka Diocese, speaking. When he saw the eleven girls in bark dresses, and remembering the first black women vowed to God, he invited all to sing “Happy Birthday.” He offered thanks from the small beginning that now has grown into a large congregation. The bishop says, “Thank you!” He concluded his remarks with a love song for Jesus, my beloved. Then he gave a blessing to all.

A break was taken. Then supper, which included meat roasted over an open fire, was served at 9 p.m. When we left supper, Sr. Judith walked over to a large bonfire between the dining room and the infirmary, where some sisters were singing and dancing. The night sky filled with southern hemisphere stars was a fitting end to a day of celebration!

December 4, 2010 – Saturday

Today is the day of the Grand Public Celebration of the Daughters of Mary–Bannabikira Sisters Bwanda. All the decorations are up, inside and out. The sisters have been preparing for these days for three years and everything has been well organized. Sisters are here from all five regions of the community and from their Tanzanian and Kenyon missions. Beautiful summer bouquets, blue and gold ribbon bows, little flags with the logo of the Centenary and the motto: “Rooted in Christ, we venture with hope,” line the road leading to the motherhouse. Large tents have been erected and decorated in the area in front of the schools on both sides of the road to protect the guests from the warm sun. The stage is set on the lawn in the middle of one side of the street. The sound system is in place and there was a great aura of expectancy as the morning began with prayer chanted in English and with Luganda hymns at 6:30 a.m., followed by meditation and breakfast.

The Daughters of Mary are all dressed in their new blue habits made for this special occasion. Sr. Jane Frances hemmed hers on her long plane ride from Seattle! The electricity went out at around 6:20 a.m., so prayer was delayed until the electricity came on again since it was still dark. Spirited songs were sung until then. Yesterday, the electricity also was out for a while. This is common, we understand, and flexibility is the name of the game. Flashlights are kept handy!

We watched the elderly cardinal emeritus arrive in a van at the front of the motherhouse. Many priests were arriving and vesting and the processional lineup was beginning. Around 9:30 a.m., Sr. Immaculate helped us find our seats in the section marked “Foreign Guests.” Already, many people had gathered to take their places in the “Friends” section.  Next to us was the section for the national, regional and local government officials, with a special chair for the person representing the president of Uganda, the minister of public service. Our section was right across from the stage area.

The procession from the front of the motherhouse down the road to the stage area (about two city blocks) was led by the boys band from one of the high schools, followed by the eleven young women dressed in bark dresses and carrying palm branches representing the original Daughters of Mary. Girls in colorful yellow and red dresses danced in the procession and then served as honor guard as others in the procession passed by. A small group of Daughters of Mary, including Mother Rosemary and her council, were followed by a very long line of vested priests, eleven bishops, and the cardinal. The whole section of the major stage where the altar was set up held only the clergy. The sisters were on a smaller stage next to them. The choir was made up of sisters, seminarians, and children from several of their schools.  The singing was lively, spirited and festive throughout the liturgy. A mixture of Luganda, Latin, Swahili, and English hymns were used. Fortunately, words to most of the songs were included in the program booklet, so we could follow along pretty well even though we didn’t know what we were singing. The booklet included greetings from many different groups, thanking the Daughters of Mary for all their contributions to the church and God’s people. Historical information about the roots of the Daughters of Mary was also included.

The local radio station (DVS) broadcasted live the entire three-hour liturgy. Newspaper reporters were also present. Srs. Noelina, Jane Frances, and Immaculate were sitting next to us and helped us understand things. The theme of the event and the welcome was given by Mother Rosemary. She explained that the theme is Thanksgiving, with three major intentions: a) Thanks for the gift of the religious life of the congregation; b) Like with the Israelites passing through the Red Sea, God’s Providence guided the sisters, for which they are grateful; and c) Gratitude for the astonishing number of new sisters over the past 100 years. The Daughters of Mary anthem, “We are the Gospel Messengers,” was sung with great enthusiasm. We want to share the beautiful words:

We are the Gospel Messengers of our day. Announcing the Good News of the Risen Lord.
To all creatures in the footsteps of our Founders, Archbishop Streitcher and Mother Mechtilda.
Daughters of Mary thank God and greatly rejoice For our Charism being called in the vineyard of God, To be Mothers catechize people in the world; This is the grace to be lived, treasured and shared.
Imbued with the spirit of Mother Mary our model, We are nourished with her unshakeable faith and deep trust in God; We embrace our apostolate by educating young and old; Imparting integral knowledge to the people of God.
We strive and venture full of Hope and trust in God; Who promises to be our Master and savior in everything;
Having Christian values and religious commitment,
Rooted in Christ, we shall venture to the end.

Archbishop John Baptist  Kaggwa, bishop of Masaka Diocese, Kitovu, officiated at the liturgy.

Archbishop John Baptist  Kaggwa, bishop of Masaka Diocese, Kitovu, officiated at the liturgy.

Archbishop John Baptist  Kaggwa, bishop of Masaka Diocese, Kitovu, officiated at the liturgy. The readings were consistent with the thanksgiving theme. Isaiah 63: 7-9, (Sing a Song of Praise), 1 Cor 1:3-9, and Luke 1:46-55 (Magnificat). A bible procession was led by the dancers who had led the entrance procession, and the song sung during the dance was “We are Committed to God” (Tumalidde Tetukyadda Mabega). All the hymns were accompanied by drums and traditional instruments, some of which we have never seen before, but we do have pictures!

The homily was delivered by White Father John van de Ven, a good friend of the sisters. The founder of the Daughters of Mary, Bishop Henry Streitcher, was a White Father, and the foundress, Mother Mechtilde, was a White Sister (Sisters of Our Lady of Africa). Fr. John traced the fascinating history of religious life in Uganda and the founding of the Daughters of Mary, the first religious community of African women south of the Sahara. He did so first in Luganda language and then in English. The program booklet contains much of Fr. John’s homily, so we can share it more fully.  Fr. John spoke with obvious affection and appreciation for the impact the Daughters of Mary have made in the lives of the People of God throughout Uganda and beyond.

The offertory petitions were provided by individuals representing various groups of students, colleagues, sisters and brothers. One of the sisters was from Our Lady of Fatima community, which was founded in Kenyon by one of the Daughters of Mary. They had a significant delegation present for the celebrations. The response to the petitions was: “God the Father, hear our prayer; Hear us God the Son; Holy Spirit, hear our prayer; Mercy on your people, Lord.”

The gifts were brought up by the young women that represented the eleven pioneer sisters representing rededication to God. Others carrying gifts included women carrying large baskets of bananas on their heads, a man leading a live goat, baskets of vegetables and fruit, a large basket of cooked bananas wrapped in banana leaves, chickens, and the gifts of bread and wine. Emilie, a former Daughter of Mary who lived with us, was among the gift bearers, and was dressed in beautiful, colorful traditional dress.  During the procession of gifts, a lively Swahili song was sung, Uvipoke – “We give to God … .”

The large host used for consecration is made by the sisters and is about twelve inches in diameter. This is usual. The tradition here is not to ring bells at the consecration, but rather to clap. You can imagine the sound of 30,000-plus people clapping! The communion was distributed in a very organized fashion. About 20 stations, one or two in front of each seating section, had priests and bishops distributing communion under a large centenary logo umbrella held by one of the seminarians, sisters or lay people.

After communion, the Fatima Sisters from Kenya and the Daughters of Mary sang one of their hymns. Then the Te Deum in Luganda was sung with great rhythm and enthusiasm.

The final blessing was given and then all the national and regional government dignitaries were introduced. We, Sisters of Providence, were also introduced, along with other foreign guests. Among the foreign guests were people from Holy Rosary Church, a delegation led by Fr. Jim Malahan, a group from Germany that has supported the deaf school, the great niece of Mother Mechtilde from Amsterdam, and visitors from Kenya, Tanzania and Congo. Mother Rosemary spoke words of thanks to all in attendance and all those that contributed to the celebration in any way. Many Ugandans sent chickens, bananas, vegetables, goats, etc., to help with feeding the crowd. Others sent money, brought chairs, etc., and helped with all the details of the celebration.

After the closing hymn, it was time for pictures with the cardinal and some of the bishops and Mother Rosemary and her council. Group after group was called forth, including our delegation and the White Sisters. Entertainment followed as tables were being put up to serve the meal. Five separate outdoor cooking stations were set up at various parts of the compound. In addition to the food contributed by so many, the Daughters of Mary in the five regions of Uganda have been raising animals and planting and harvesting vegetables and fruit for the Centenary celebration. The area around the motherhouse has been experiencing a drought, so the crops have not produced as expected. Mother Rosemary told us that the sisters raised 500 chickens and 20 cows specifically for feeding the people who came to the celebration. More chickens came from the people.  Many people came to help prepare the meal.

As the meal was being served and during the meal, many groups of students performed on stage with wonderful song and dance that continued most of the afternoon and into the evening. How festive everything was! We enjoyed the meal with other guests in the grassy area near the motherhouse. We were given VIP tickets to enter that space.

More evening entertainment was presented in front of the motherhouse. The sisters joined in the traditional dances. It was wonderful to behold! The Ugandans really know how to shake! What a wonderful day of celebrating it has been!  No doubt everyone slept well!!!

December 5, 2010 – Sunday

"There was a gathering of the sisters for a picture of those who have been with us in Seattle. So many memories were churned into action as we looked at this group of fine, fine, women … our sisters."

“There was a gathering of the sisters for a picture of those who have been with us in Seattle. So many memories were churned into action as we looked at this group of fine, fine, women … our sisters.”

The day started out the way it does every day … the bells ring at 5:45 a.m. … 30 minutes to early morning prayer. Then meditation followed by the recitation of the Office and then the Angelus as the bells ring again. The liturgy begins at 7:30 a.m., followed by breakfast at 8 a.m. But today is different. This is Sunday. It really seemed like yesterday was Sunday. It certainly felt like it. Therefore, liturgy lasted close to two hours.

The chapel was filled, absolutely filled, with Daughters of Mary. We were invited to move closer together so that the people standing outside could come in to sit. Liturgies and prayer times fill the air with heavenly sounds of music and praying in union with one another. It is so harmonious that it creates an air of peace.

Probably one of the exciting moments of our stay here was after liturgy. There was a gathering of the sisters for a picture of those who have been with us in Seattle. So many memories were churned into action as we looked at this group of fine, fine, women … our sisters. Later, Sr. Jacqueline and I visited Sr. William in the infirmary so her picture could be added to the “reunion picture.” She was happy to see us all. Srs. Karin and Judy were able to visit with her earlier.

Mother Rosemary hoists high a new computer, a gift to the Daughters of Mary from the Sisters of Providence.

Mother Rosemary hoists high a new computer, a gift to the Daughters of Mary from the Sisters of Providence.

Today is the “day after” the Century Celebration of the Daughters of Mary. There are still many sisters here from all parts of their ministry lands, Uganda and Kenya, to mention a few. It takes a lot of activity to put everything back in order. There are so many people here helping to make things right.

Before lunch began, Sr. Karin led us in the presentation of the gifts from the Sisters of Providence and from Providence Health & Services to the Daughters of Mary here. The gifts consisted of three walkers, five laptop computers and cases, rosaries made by a friend of Sr. Shirley Smith, boxes of wash-n-wipes, T-shirts from the System Office, and some school supplies. The sisters were delighted with our gifts. They gave each of us a Centenary sweater vest.

Near the end of lunch, the sisters heard tragic news. A young man who lives on the property and works here as a driver and has many other responsibilities was killed in an explosion in his house. The sisters moved as one in their sorrow and grief and utter shock. He had just been working on cutting grass in the morning. Having put the lawn mower inside the house, he lit the stove to get it started and it was too close to the gas tank of the mower. The door was locked and blocked, so he was unable to get out, and people with fire extinguishers couldn’t get in. He got under the bed but suffocated due to smoke and flames.

A special liturgy was held at 5 p.m. for the young man, whose name was Benedict. His body was in a coffin made by the sisters. To add to the tragedy, he had a wife and daughter. The couple had just married a short while ago and were so happy about this. The sisters were there to support him then, and were especially present this evening. All are grieving his loss. Sister Teresa of Avila said, “He was such a fine young man.” The tone of the liturgy and hymns was solemn and subdued in comparison with what we had heard all these days. It was obvious that the shock of his death hit the sisters very hard. May he rest in peace and his family and the sisters be comforted.

After lunch, Sr. Judy visited the school for the deaf and the blind. She was very impressed with what she saw. She said the people there are doing excellent ministry. There were some deaf children there and she was able to sign and visit with them.

Srs. Karin, Anita, and Jacqueline visited Sr. Immaculate’s school, a high school for aspirants to the Daughters of Mary where she teaches sciences. She is also on the Formation Team, specifically working with the aspirants. This year there are 14 postulants. Next year, they are expecting 24. These younger people are very impressive by their decor, their simplicity, and their involvement in the whole complex here. They also visited Sr. Noelina’s school, St. Therese, a boarding school of 700 girls, where she is the principal. Sr. Anita was able to tour the new building for the school, which is complete on the outside. The inside remains unfinished due to lack of funds. We could not help but be impressed with the ministries of these two special SU graduates.

Because of the tragedy, we did not go to Mukasa, as originally planned, but will do that tomorrow on the way back to Kampala. There we will see Sr. Justine’s school and the General Administration offices. We also will see the store run by the Daughters of Mary. We also may visit the Technical School near the motherhouse on our way. Our flight for the Cameroons via Nairobi departs at 5:10 a.m. Tuesday, so we will stay near the airport tomorrow evening.

Since we are leaving the computers with the Daughters of Mary, we will not be able to provide Part Three, the Cameroon Journey, until after we return.

Do know we think of you and pray for you during these special days.

Peace to you!

Sisters Karin, Judy, Anita, Jacqueline, and Mary