On the hills of Homa Bay in Western Kenya, we celebrated the Consociate Ritual of Commitment and welcomed the three Kenyan Consociates: Diana Lieta (2015), Aloys Mambe Obonyo (2013), and Serphine Achola Mambe (2013). The ceremony was on Sunday, October 21, 2017 since they weren’t able to attend the rituals in St. Paul.
We celebrated at the Mambe’s residence overlooking the countryside with Lake Victoria just a mile or so away. It was a beautiful day. Many people traveled far to witness the ritual, including the St. Monica widows (whom Grandmothers’ Circle is helping) and the Marit Group. This group is comprised of dynamic entrepreneurial women (the three Consociates, Mary and Serephine’s daughters and others). They have a rental business (large event tents, chairs, and three motor bikes). Members of a Table Banking group and elders from the area also attended.
Anita S. Duckor and Mary Lieta, our first Kenyan CSJ Consociate (2009), conducted the ritual. To ensure that everyone was included, Mary provided translation in their native tongue. The ceremony was held under a covered tent with a flock of sheep, chickens and roosters, birds, and other creatures providing the back drop. The three CSJ Consociate candles were placed on the altar.
We made introductions, explained who the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet and Consociates are, and described the Commitment Ritual.
We began with a Welcome and Opening Prayer and the Consociates read the Consociate Spirit Statement. The question was asked, “Will you commit yourself to live the mission of the Sisters of St. Joseph, to love God and neighbor without distinction?” Each of the three responded, “Yes, I have studied the spirit, history and life of the CSJ community. Your Mission is My Mission.”
Mary lit each candle and presented them one by one as Anita spoke to each one, “We have given you these candles as a sign of our love and of the commitment we share to love God and the dear neighbor. Now, as you extinguish the flame, hold the flame’s light in your being. Be a light for the world.”
Aloys, Diana and Serphine’s faces beamed with joy and gratitude. Everyone could truly witness God’s light in their eyes.
We concluded the ceremony with the Consociate Ritual blessing with the attendees standing and extending their arms. This was a new experience for most Kenyans, since typically only priests give the blessings. As the Consociates blew out their candles, the ritual ended with singing, dancing and heartfelt applause.
The Consociates shared:
• Aloys said “I felt I was hosting the whole world of Consociates in my home. I felt so honored.”
• Serphine shared “I still can’t get over it. The chance to cook for this event and the opportunity for my people to see that the work we do is done by others all over the world was rewarding.”
• Diana expressed “A joyful day of love and appreciation of the little help/love we give to the less fortunate. I am grateful to be a Consociate and may the Lord grant me the strength to help whenever I can. Amen.”
• Mary added “I enjoyed every minute. I was reminded once more that I am committed to work the way I do and that it is not business as usual. It is a special call. Extra strength to work was injected in me.”
The second part of the ceremony began when Father Bennett arrived with a small choir for a two-hour Mass. He talked about the good work that the Consociates were doing and how thankful the whole community was. He asked the three Consociates to come to the front for a blessing and continued his praise for their work. Father Bennett asked Anita to say a prayer on behalf of the CSJ Sisters and Consociates.
A scrumptious and bountiful lunch made by Serphine was served to the large crowd. Everyone began to leave around 4:30 p.m. and around 5:00 p.m., the gates of heaven opened up with a tumultuous downpour. So, the festive day ended with another blessing – the much-needed rain.
written by Anita S. Duckor, CSJ Consocciate
December 21st, 2017