by Katie Patrick
Last week’s article was about how Albert Maribaga, our refugee employment specialist, ministers to others “as he goes on his way” like Jesus did. In this week’s article, I want to share a little bit about the Canossian Daughters of Charity, who I served with for one year in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Like many religious sisters, the charism of hospitality abounds at a convent and the Canossians were no exception. They went out of their way on a daily basis to minister to the needs of each other and the local community, but there was one time in particular that I want to share with you.
We were getting ready to celebrate Independence Day when my friend Karen had to go to the hospital. She hadn’t been feeling well for a week or so, and usually when that happened to one of us, it was a mild case of malaria or typhoid. However, she tested negative for both earlier in the week. It wasn’t until she tested again that morning that it came back positive for malaria. It was pretty evident—from the Sisters’ decision to take her to a hospital one hour away rather than the local clinic—that it was serious.
I should also mention that any sort of celebration in the village where I lived was a big deal. There are many ordinary days in rural Africa because they have no entertainment venues like those you would find in U.S. cities, such as movie theaters, malls, golf, tennis – really any sport outside of boys playing soccer. Celebrations are days in the making. Beyond preparing the food and the home, the women will have outfits made for themselves and their families in special fabric printed just for that occasion. However, all those plans evaporated when we had to quickly take Karen to the hospital.
Karen spent the next week and a half there very, very ill. Throughout her entire time, never did the Sisters leave her side. There was one sister in particular, Sister Marcela, who sat up all through the night on a chair at her bedside. Their care and concern for Karen, when she had no family there, was not only exactly what she needed, but it perfectly captured the way that Sister Marcela and all the Canossian Sisters lived their lives – in fruitful “Kitchen Service” to those around them; always going out of their way to minister to others like Jesus did. Their holiness and service inspires many people, including me, helping in what little ways I can and inviting others to do the same.
Several years ago, students from Bishop Newman High School in Wahoo raised money to purchase a dairy cow for the malnourished children at the clinic. I also run a nonprofit that teaches young women how to sew and run a business. The curriculum we use teaches basic business skills, such as marketing, recordkeeping, and customer services. In Congo it’s darn near impossible to access best practices, accounting software, and start-up capital. Through my nonprofit, I am able to send training materials, smart phones, computers, and money to help. Everything that I send is donated by family and friends. If it’s in your heart to help in any way, I’d be more than happy to visit with you.
Stay tuned for next week, when I share my final story with you about how Jesus ministered in all kinds of ways! Until then, pray for Sister Marcela and all the Canossian Sisters in Congo. Thank you and God bless!
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