Visit to the Congo

Thursday, August 29, 2019
BY Sr. Pat Dowling, CBS

Our feet have barely touched the ground after our 8.5 hour flight from Paris to Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of the Congo this past Thursday. Sr. Jacqueline Rebours and I have met with six women from our last trip and seven new contacts.  We spend several hours with each woman carefully screening each as potential candidates.  We still have about four more inquirers to see, plus visits with two families, a large group gathering Sunday afternoon, meetings with diocesan personnel, the psychologist to receive the candidate assessment results of two women, and a few other folks to meet.

Our fact finding mission is returning really good information that we will share at the General Chapter of the Sisters of Bon Secours in September. We are delighted by the hospitality of the Jesuits welcoming us back to share their residence during our visit here in Kinshasa. It’s quite an international house with visitors from around the DRC, and new Jesuit scholastics from Ghana, Nigeria, Togo, etc. studying French before beginning their philosophy classes at the scholastic house outside of Kinshasa.

Our two Congolese aspirants, Myriam and Helene, are very disappointed about their visa denials but are remaining hopeful that a resolution will be found. It’s good to hear that the political demonstrations have subsided and that the new President is slowly introducing new projects – people are cautiously optimistic, but as we hear from the women we meet, finding and keeping employment is quite challenging. One of our aspirants has a job at a government sponsored hospital until the beginning of September at which time it will run out of money and can’t pay and keep staff.

Our friend Father Jules, the assistant provincial for Jesuits in Central Africa continues to assist us in various ways, which is most appreciated.

As I sit writing this, I’m reminded of our sisters who left their countries for Chad and South Africa to accompany people in need in these countries.  I imagine their pioneering spirit and experiences and know that some are smiling down on us and others very much alive, are praying for our trip and the people here. Jacqueline and I are very grateful for the prayers and support.

Peace and blessings,