For nearly five years, Carmelite Sisters in the Ecclesiastical Province of Kananga of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have stayed at premises that were looted and partly destroyed in violence that wreaked havoc in the Central African country between 2016 and 2017.
The leadership of the Catholic charity organization Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) International reports that near the convent stands the Seminary of Christ the King, which was also hugely burnt in the violence.
Recounting the violence, ACN leadership has, in the Wednesday, March 14 reported, “In 2017 there were outbreaks of violence during which not only the Carmelite convent but also the Seminary of Christ the King was attacked and looted. In fact, a section of the Seminary was even burnt down. Thank God no one was killed or injured.”
The leadership of the charity organization describes DRC as “strife-torn land, tormented for decades by civil war and violence”, adding that the 2017 was not the first time that the Catholic Nuns had suffered the attacks.
The organization notes that the Nuns continue to serve the people of God in the region with unwavering commitment despite the high levels of poverty that surrounds them.
A protracted political stalemate in DRC is said to have been at the heart of the violence that escalated in 2017, leaving thousands dead and over a million people displaced.
The United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights considered that the situation in the Kasai Province, one of the 21 new Provinces of DRC created in the 2015 repartitioning within Kananga Ecclesiastical Province, is still one of the worst human rights crises in the world.
The Catholic Church reported that at least 3,383 persons were killed and over 87 mass graves were discovered in the region.
Additionally, over 1.4 million people, including almost 600,000 children, were forced to find refuge in neighboring Provinces, and nearly 30,000 others fled to Angola.
ACN leadership reports that though churches and religious buildings in the country have fallen victim to the attacks “with tragic regularity,” the Catholic Nuns still bring the needs of the entire world especially DRC before God in their ceaseless prayer.
Providing a background of the Carmelites in DRC, ACN leadership notes, “In 1934 six Belgian Religious Sisters set out on a great adventure.”
The six, according to the Pontifical charity organization, boarded a ship in Lisbon and set sail on the long voyage to Africa in order to found the first ever Carmelite convent in Central Africa, in what was then the Belgian Congo.
Their convent, dedicated to the Infant Jesus, was to be the “cradle” of contemplative life in this region.
The organization further recounts that the first Carmelite convent, founded in the Kasai Region within the Ecclesiastical Province of Kananga, was transferred 50 years later to Malole, in the Kananga region, in the centre of what is today DRC.
“Many local vocations followed and several other convents have since been established,” ACN leadership notes in the April 14 report, and adds, “Today it is home to 18 African women, ranging in age from 21 to 88. The average age of the sisters is about 40 years.”
In the report, ACN leadership notes that the Carmelite Sisters devote themselves specially to praying for Priestly vocations and for the sanctification of Priestly life.
The Pontifical Charity organization notes that the people of God in the Diocese are happy to have the Convent and the Sisters present among them.
“Every day Holy Mass is celebrated here,” ACN, which supports the Church in hardship areas notes, and adds, “But the faithful themselves are very poor and can do little to support the Sisters.”
ACN has pledged to continue supporting the work of evangelization within the Ecclesiastical province of Kananga, with a renewed commitment to donate 5,400 Euros for the support of the life and ministry of the Carmelites in the region, the leadership of the Catholic charity entity says in the April 14 report.