On Saturday 2 September 2023, in the chapel of the Vice-Provincial House of the Daughters of the Holy Spirit in Cameroon, two young people, Serlette GAOBAWAÏ, from the parish of Mandaka in the diocese of Maroua-Mokolo and Christine MAÏDOKLE, from the parish of Djiguilao in the diocese of Yagoua, made a commitment to follow Christ in the footsteps of Marie BALAVENNE and Renée BUREL. Serlette and Christine made their vows to follow the chaste, poor and obedient Christ for three years in the Congregation and according to the Rule of Life of the Daughters of the Holy Spirit, in front of Sister Angèle HARANGA SILIKAM, vice-provincial of the DHS. in Cameroon, and in front of the people of God who came to share the joy of all. Indeed, to see the splendour of the celebration in the well-decorated chapel, the joy on the faces and the beauty of the two young people involved, one could even say: “Marie BALAVENNE and Renée BUREL are also jubilant with joy in heaven!”
The texts chosen for the liturgy – Isaiah 43:1-14 and Matthew 25 – and the songs helped us to live the Eucharistic celebration joyfully. The main celebrant, Mgr Gilbert DAMBA WANA, Vicar General of the Diocese of Maroua-Mokolo, urged us to practice love and charity. Addressing Serlette and Christine in particular, he reminded them of the importance of the Gospel of Saint Matthew in the lives of the Daughters of the Holy Spirit: to serve the poor, the sick, children and the marginalised, and to recognise in them the person of Jesus Christ.
To explain their experience of following Christ, Christine and Serlette chose an orange tree and a burning candle as symbols. Christine: “I chose the orange tree as a symbol because it reflects my deep experience of the journey. For me, this young plant signifies availability, generosity and welcome. As we all know, when you plant a tree, you water it and give it all the care it needs to grow, even though its growth also depends on God, the Creator of everything” Serlette: “I chose light as my symbol. It also reminds me of the light I received at my baptism. Light enlightens, illuminates, warms, purifies…”.
Talking to Serlette and Christine, we can see that certain moments, words, deeds and gestures will remain particularly engraved in their memories and in their hearts. Serlette and Christine: “We were very happy to be surrounded by our parents, the sisters of the vice-province, priests, consecrated persons, friends and acquaintances. We felt supported and encouraged by all these people. All the different gestures of affection and fraternity have given us joy, peace and more inner freedom, which push us forward”. In their words of thanks, the young professed sisters took the opportunity to invite parents to encourage their children in their choice to follow Christ; and, addressing the young people, they invited them to respond favourably to his calls. For them, this celebration remains a moment of joy and encouragement, as well as a moment of challenge in today’s society.
For those of us who were witnesses to Serlette’s and Christine’s commitments, our joy is immense, as is our gratitude to the Lord who sends labourers into his harvest, because, as Pope Francis tells us in The Joy of the Gospel, no. 1: “The joy of the Gospel fills the heart and the whole life of those who meet Jesus. With Jesus Christ, joy is always born and reborn”. Serlette has been sent on mission to the community of Touloum, in the Diocese of Yagoua, and Christine has been sent on mission to the community of Koza, in the Diocese of Maroua-Mokolo.
May the Spirit of the Lord always go before us on the path of humble service, and may Mary, “our advocate before the Holy Spirit” –Rule of Life, art 1–, be our daily help!
Sister Vedette NDAOKAÏ, DHS, novitiate-Ngaoundéré. Published on 10 September 2023