It was a feast for the eyes when thirteen sisters from four communities of North West Africa gathered in Nouakchott for the celebration of the Silver Jubilee of its inception on the 30th of December 2021. It was a twin jubilee celebration  combined with the celebration of the Silver Jubilee of the Religious life of Sr Mary Grace, a member of Nouakchott community.  The day began with a Thanksgiving Eucharistic Celebration in the Cathedral of Nouakchott at 6pm, officiated by Mgr Martin HAPPE, Bishop of the diocese of Nouakchott, concelebrated by the parish priest Abbé Jacques-françois DIOUF, Abbé Moïse, four other priests and in the presence of pastoral agents (religious and priests) of the diocese gathered for their annual session along with some of the invitees.  It was a delight to have Sr Ignatia, one of the four pioneers of Bethany's first  mission in Africa  present to grace the occasion. The Cathedral choir accompanied singing the Bethany Anthem and a hymn in Hindi.

The Eucharistic procession with lighted candles was led by the silver jubilarian and the pioneer of the mission followed by the Bethany sisters present. In his homily bishop Martin HAPPE traced the origin and the debuts of our mission and remembered with gratitude the pioneers in particular, the then Superior General Sr Agnella and her Councillor who had visited the place in 1994 in view of initiating the new mission. He proudly remarked that in his 26 years of Episcopate he has accomplished great works. But the greatest of all of them is inviting Bethany sisters to his diocese. He also mentioned that this has opened later the doors for mission in Senegal and Tanzania.

To proclaim the Lord by our religious presence has been the objective of our mission in Mauritania. We are happy and proud to realise that through diverse apostolates such as KG schools, prison ministry, women’s cooperatives, health ministry, frontier mission like taking care of refugees, prostitutes, migrants in networking with NGO’s, the original purpose has been fulfilled.

In conclusion the communitysang the thanksgiving hymn in French, specially composed for the occasion by the former parish priest Abbé Joseph DIAW.  It reads: “Along with your servant Mascarenhas we trust in your seed, we will take care of the seed, we are the seed. Let it grow, let it flower, let it bear fruit. Beyond the sand dunes Lord, you invite us to be the witnesses of your love. Your seed thrown in this African land will bear fruit by the Sisters of the Little Flower of Bethany. We thank you and we praise you.”

 After the Mass all gathered were served refreshments. Thereafter thespecial invitees proceeded to the KG hall for a short cultural programme.  The welcome dance by the sisters, was followed by the screening of a YouTube film on ‘Bethany in Sahara Desert’.  Thereafter the Bishop, Sr Mary Grace, Sr Ignatia, and Abbé Jacques François, were honoured with shawls.

All present on the occasion were given a specially designed key chain as a souvenir. In her speech Sr Ignatia highlighted the two attitudes that guide her in her missionary endeavour namely gratitude and trust and surrender to God.

Then everyone proceeded to the dining hall and cherished a local 'Meshwi' (roasted mutton) a Mauritanian festal dish.  The jubilee hymn was sung once again with some of the invitees joining theirvoices. Thereafter Most Rev Bishop, Sr Mary Grace and Sr Ignatia cut the mounted tripple cake. We ended the celebration by thanking the almighty.

Hats off to Sr Rosewin, the Superior, Sr Anita Martis, Sr Mary Grace and Sr Nilima who meticulously planned and monitored the materialization of this big event. Long live Bethany in Africa.  Let it grow and be blessed with many fervent vocations from this land.

News by : Sr Ignatia  D Souza BS, Bethany, Saint-Louis, Senegal

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