|Sr. Margaret Aringo|
Benedict XVI recalled the fact that the Feast of the Presentation on February 2 commemorates the visit by Mary and Joseph to the Temple to present their firstborn to the Lord, in accordance with Mosaic law. There they met Simeon and the Prophet Anna who, the Pope explained, “recognised that Child as the Messiah announced by the prophets. In the meeting between the elderly Simeon and the young mother Mary, the Old and the New Testaments came together to give thanks for the gift of Light, which shines in the shadows and prevents the victory of darkness: Christ the Lord, a light to illuminate the Gentiles and a glory for His people Israel”.
The Day of Consecrated Life coincides with the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple because that evangelical episode “is an important symbol of the gift of life made by people who, through the evangelical counsels, are called to demonstrate before the Church and the world the characteristic traits of Jesus: virgin, poor, obedient, consecrated in the Father. What we celebrate in today’s feast, then, is the mystery of consecration: the consecration of Christ, the consecration of Mary, the consecration of all those who follow Jesus for love of God’s Kingdom”.
In the global mission of the Church, that consecration is seen in the lives of religious men and women worldwide. Raised in a Catholic family, at the age of nine a Kenyan girl encountered a Franciscan sister. Before long she had decided she wanted to model her life after that woman. Decades later, that young girl has grown up. She entered the Franciscans and now goes by the name Franciscan Sister of St. Joseph Margaret Aringo.
Not only is she a Franciscan, but she is also the head of her congregation. Beyond that she is the chairperson of an organization of African sisters that spans eight eastern and central African nations called the Association of Consecrated Women in Eastern and Central Africa, or ACWECA in short.
The leadership of ACWECA (ACWECA represents sisters in Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Southern Sudan, Northern Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia), representing more than 20,000 sisters, gathered Jan. 28 on the campus of The Catholic University of Eastern Africa on the outskirts of this city. Their mission was to launch the organization’s first strategic plan in its 37-year history, an important milestone and one that indicates the growing strength and self-confidence of the women religious, or sisters, here as they are called locally.
Explaining parts of the strategic plan that would eventually be officially launched with a proclamation utterance by Leaping, Aringo spoke warmly about the work of the women religious in Africa. She reminded her audience that sisters had played major roles “in pastoral, merciful and charitable services to humanity” and had built bridges from “injustices, violence and wars to justice, peace and reconciliation.” READ MORE OF THIS FASCINATING STORY…