AFRICA/CAMEROON - Year of the Eucharist: The Eucharist is fundamental, essential in the life of the missionary. It is like going to the source to be filled with that which we wish to offer to others

Wednesday, 25 May 2005

Rome (Fides Service) - “The Eucharist is fundamental, essential in the life of the missionary. It is the most important moment for us, like going to the source to be filled with that which we wish to offer to others: the Word calls us to forgiveness and conversion, but above all to share the Bread.” This testimony comes from Spanish born Sr Maria Garriz Dominican Missionaries of the Rosary for many years on mission in Africa: in Cameroon and in Democratic Congo.
“In the Eucharist Jesus gives himself so that we may give ourselves and share with others not only what we have but what we are - the Sister continued -. Mission is born of the Eucharist, because the Word reminds us that we are sent by the Lord and in the Eucharist we celebrate the joys and sorrows of life. It is the centre of my life because it strengthens my missionary spirit, my desire to share with others the Good News of the Kingdom.”
In Congo Sr Maria worked in the field of education at a primary school for children with a physical disability. In Cameroon she worked for the promotion of women as well as helping in various fields of pastoral activity. She recalls that at the beginning “one of the main difficulties was to learn the language although I soon realised that language was less important than our attitude our love, a universal language which everyone understands”. Another difficulty encountered in her life in the land of Africa was the discovery of the existence of a culture of polygamy, “in which the husband gives the orders and the wife works from dawn to dusk to feed her children as if they were hers and not her husband’s”.
“In my missionary experience - said Sr Maria -, the greatest success was to see how education develops values, frees the person, gives more self-confidence. It was so good to see our pupils so interested and anxious to learn and to see them put what they learned into practice. Even after they had married they were happier and more aware of their dignity as a human person”.
With regard to the attitude with which the people she met during her missionary experience approach the mystery of the Eucharist and expressed their devotion to the Blessed Sacrament, Sr Maria explains: “Perhaps it would be too much to say that they have faith in this mystery, but they do understand the meaning of solidarity, sharing, listening.... so they do not get restless during Mass even if its lasts from three hours, they take an active part. Most of the celebrations are followed by a shared plate of bukari or couscous, the main dish, or peanuts if there was no time to cook something.... The unite the Mystery celebrated, the table of the Word and the Eucharist, with the sharing of the daily food. The main difficulty encountered in teaching the meaning of the Eucharist, is the incoherence they note: we celebrate to thank God for the gift of the Son and afterwards we are closed to the needs of others. In other words we are not good Samaritans, we are not attentive to the needs of our brothers and sisters”. (R.Z.) (Agenzia Fides 25/5/2005, righe 38, parole 539)