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.”

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