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armida etienne 02Peace and all Good to the Congregation of the Franciscan Sisters of the Poor. First and foremost, allow me to render a vibrant homage to all the Franciscan Sisters of the Poor who throughout the years have dazzled and fascinated me by their availability and by their works of kindness towards the poor, braving sun and wind. These Sisters, like Mother Frances, recognized Christ in poor and suffering humanity through the promotion of women, through teaching, through healthcare and through many other charitable activities. I render them homage because through their works changed something in my life. In fact, it is thanks to them, that I have acquired a sense of sharing with discretion while showing availability and humility. During 35 years, they have counseled me, sustained me and helped me. Even if I’ll never be able to thank them enough, may they know that my humble prayers will accompany them forever such that the Lord may give them the strength to persevere in their noble mission. I pray that the Congregation may move forward while continuing its fruitful work so that it may save many souls.

In my work I try to live the charism of Mother Frances: to heal the wounds of Christ in this suffering world by establishing a friendly relationship with the sick, the poor and all the people that surround me and by serving my sick brothers and sisters through availability, service, listening and sharing. I have lived moments of happiness and of sadness with them. The happiness and the joy to see the sick heal from their sufferings and then return to us to manifest their joy, for suffering from an ill and then healing from it makes them feel revived. There are moments of suffering and compassion, when we are faced with a situation where we cannot do anything because our competences are limited. During these moments, I can only pray putting everything in the hands of God.
This work has become very stimulating for me; it has taught me the true values of being human. I understood that people must be loved, respected and sustained when they are in need. I try to always do my best to help the sick and the poor surmount their challenges.

The charism of the Franciscan Sisters of the Poor invites me to charity and challenges me to help the poor. Very often and with discretion, I pay for the tickets of the patients, the expenses for their meals or the elementary needs of the children: purchase of shoes, balls, ice cream.
I discover this charism in the faith and my faith is discovered in an encounter. It is lived in encounters. “Faith without (good) works is a dead faith,” the Holy Scripture tell us.
The beatitudes and the example of the Good Samaritan calls me in my life setting.
‘' You, who look for, you, who doubt, hear the call on the road, then you will perhaps discover the person who walks with you, that person is Christ. He invites you to take care of his wounds by concrete actions”.
It may happen that I go back home at the end of a day with a heavy heart for having experienced so much bitterness in facing an illness, or for having experienced failure in front of death. But from death, thanks to God, there are experiences of resurrection.

pan et 01The story of a Moslem woman will remain etched forever in my mind. She was a sterile woman who after 10 years of marriage seemed saddened and lost because of her life situation. In the meantime, her husband had married two other women. She felt unhappy, perhaps even punished by her destiny, and then all of a sudden she decided to come to our dispensary for a consultation. When she spoke to me of her situation, I sent her to go confide her story to the Sister, but the Sister left me in charge of caring for her. This situation made me panic somewhat because the lady had an absolute hope that after a period of treatment she would have been able, at last, to give birth. I looked for so many excuses to make her understand that the cure could not have worked considering that her husband would not follow the same treatment. Nevertheless, in her culture her husband’s sterility was an unthinkable hypothesis because in every case it is only the woman that can be sterile. After having attentively listened to her, I invited her to pray to the Holy Virgin and to Mother Frances. I saw that she didn't seem at all surprised because she knew the mother of Jesus through her religion. I followed this woman’s treatment for a period of approximately 6 months; she was quite regular for her treatment. One beautiful morning, she came to announce to us the good news: she was expecting her first child. Her joy was so great that she could not contain her tears. The news that she announced to me made me lose my breath. I could not believe it. God was still working wonders on his creatures, but above all He wanted to use us to realize them “us, poor instruments,” us, the family of Mother Frances. This lady has rendered us more credible in front of this portion of humanity who look to us for recovery and for resurrection. She brought her pregnancy to term with boldness in front of the other wives and gave birth to a beautiful baby girl.

I think that the risen one was me, but also all those who lived around this family. I have lived this experience while thinking about the situation of many women who are humiliated only because they have not been able to procreate. I have thought about the Word of God regarding the situation of Elizabeth and Zechariah and I gave thanks to God who still continues to manifest his work through our charism.
Dear Franciscan Sisters of the Poor, I want you to know that I pray for all of you and for the whole Congregation. I reiterate to you my affiliation to Mother Frances as well as my full support.

Etienne Ndong, Senegal Area Associate

Published: July, 5, 2016