Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Peramiho Priory Series: Sr Rosann's First Impressions

(While on home leave Sr. Rosann Ocken, Prioress of Peramiho Priory, sat down with Sr. Inviolata and talked about the work of the sisters in Tanzania-Peramiho Priory. Over the next few week we will explore that work in a series of blog posts and videos.)

For the past seven years Sr. Rosann has been missioned to Tanzania as their Prioress. What has stood out most for her is the joy of the people. They have a wonderful gift of celebration and a sense of family. It gives Sr. Rosann an opportunity to do whatever she can for the people of Tanzania.

Sr. Rosann had very little time to adjust to the new culture, language and poverty of Tanzania. It was a very stressful time, but she jumped in with both feet ready to take on the task. She had never been exposed to that much poverty before and was bombarded with her sense of responsibility and why God had sent her there.

The first year she was there Sr. Rosann tried to learn as much as she could of the language. She can do basic language, but still needs translators for official business and written communication. It’s not easy and makes relating to the people much more difficult. With the help and love of the sisters they are making it work and making great progress.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Abby in the Abbey: Best Friends


Do any of you have a special friend that you just love?  Here is a picture of me and Izzie (Isabel when she is naughty!).  She is a Schnoodle just like me and when her mom and dad have time they bring her to the monastery for a play date with me!  We get along great and love to run like crazy chasing a Frisbee or just roll in the grass.
  I would say we are best friends but even best friends have times when we don’t agree.  For example, Izzie doesn’t care much for regular dog treats, she just wants the really expensive ones, but I will eat anything!  Do any of you have similar experiences with your best friends?  You can’t understand why simple things aren’t enough and only the best will do? 
 It gets complicated after a while, but luckily we are dogs and just live in the moment.  I don’t think people are that lucky, they hold grudges when they don’t agree with each other or how other people live their lives, for example why some have to shop at Nordstrom’s and others shop at Dollar Tree.
  It sounds funny to us dogs though and to us, people are strange sometimes.  They have all this good stuff that they can get any time they want, but always want more. Hmmm, maybe this is something we should all think about huh?

Monday, August 18, 2014

Peramiho Priory Series: TZ Orphanage

While on home leave Sr. Rosann Ocken, Prioress of Peramiho Priory, sat down with Sr. Inviolata and talked about the work of the sisters in Tanzania-Peramiho Priory. Over the next few weeks we will explore that work in a series of blog posts and videos. One of their major ministries is the Orphanages where they take care of 80 children. If you would like to learn more about the work the sisters are doing check out www.mbsmissionaries.org.

Music: “Do Something”- Matthew West

Monday, August 11, 2014

Returning Home to Tanzania: Sr. Pia's Reflections on "The Best Years of my Monastic Life" Part 4

On May 15, I was overjoyed to be the guest of honor at the “Form VI” graduation (the equivalent of a General Equivalency Diploma in the United States) at our congregation's Peramiho Girls Secondary and High School. The 21 young women who finished their basic education now can look forward to a bright future.

When I arrived in Peramiho as prioress, I was aware of the importance of education for girls. But because I had always worked in a hospital pharmacy, I had no experience in leading a school. This school in Peramiho was entrusted to me, and I had to meet many challenges from the first day. I put a lot of time, energy and love into this ministry, fully aware of the saying: “If you train a woman, you train a nation.”

It was my great joy to learn that our school ranked 21st among more than 3,000 Tanzanian schools that administered the Form IV nationwide examinations in December 2013. The school received a special award for this achievement from the president of Tanzania as well as from the regional government. During the Form VI graduation ceremony, this achievement was celebrated with gratitude for all the teachers, their efforts and their motivation. I was so happy and grateful that I could see this day and this achievement.

My visit in Tanzania, especially in Peramiho, was a homecoming. Besides my fellow sisters, I was able to visit again with some friends, former students, priests and bishops. Talking Swahili had become natural to me during my many years in Tanzania, because only by knowing a nation's language can one fully come to know its people and culture.

I listened to the concerns of my friends and colleagues – and I heard their repeated invitation to return to Peramiho. They assured me that even though I can no longer work as hard as I once did, my presence would be important to them. I am not sure about this, but I am ready to leave my future plans to God, who has always had different plans with me.

I only can look back in gratitude for all the beauty I saw and experienced in my short visit.  Once again, I say: “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his faithful love endures forever.”

Monday, August 4, 2014

Returning Home to Tanzania: Sr. Pia's Reflections on "The Best Years of my Monastic Life" Part 3

Along with my fellow sisters, I believe that the best possible basic education gives young people their best chance to pursue further studies. I am proud of our sisters who continue this work.

Only two or three sisters were assigned at first to Mjimwema to help in the parish and the hostel of its secondary school. The four sisters who work there now live in a small house built for a family. But a gift of land from the archbishop of Songea has allowed the Peramiho priory to build a beautiful two-story house, five minutes from the new orphanage, as the sisters' future home: the Good Shepherd Convent.

The new convent includes a spacious chapel with access from the outside so neighbors and children may join the sisters in their prayers. The new convent will have rooms for 10 sisters. Again I experienced how a small seed sown in faith can become a strong tree. Mjimwema will become an important ministry of the Peramiho priory, serving the people in this fast-growing city by taking care of the orphans and providing good education for their future. 

I learned that the Tanzanian government has been imposing more and more regulations affecting students' advanced studies. Some sisters are studying to meet these demands, but they pose big challenges for our congregation's young Tanzanian-born community. I had begun training many sisters to teach professionally during my time as prioress, and this work continues. The sisters must have confidence in themselves in order to teach others.