Who we are
"Be apostles, be nothing but apostles"
(Cardinal Charles Lavigerie)
The Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Africa were founded in Algiers, Algeria, in 1869.
On the 8th September 1869, nine young girls from Brittany (North of France) arrived in Algiers,
after having being delayed for one day due to a very strong storm while they were crossing the Mediterranean.
Monsignor Charles Lavigerie (“Our Founder”), bishop of Algiers since 1866, had been waiting for them and was worried if their ship would arrive. He sent his blessing on the troubled sea and on this troubled beginning of the congregation he wished to found.
Cholera was raging in Algeria in 1867 and claimed many victims. Famine and sickness that followed left many orphans in Algeria. To answer these needs Mgr Lavigerie wanted to found a congregation of sisters.
In 1869 he sent a Breton priest to France to look for girls ready to give their life to God at the service of His people in Africa. The appeal was tough: “I don’t promise any human wealth nor greatness, but poverty, hardships, self-denial, and possibly a martyr’s death.”
The first eight women who had arrived with the storm asked themselves: “Where are the sisters we will join?”- They realized that they were the only ones: “Well, if we are only ourselves to begin with, it’s going to be fun!”
Other girls from France and Belgium followed. On 25th September 1869, there were twenty-two postulants. The first novitiate started in November 1869. The first vows were pronounced the 30th April 1871.
The first sisters worked the land, prayed and lived in simplicity and joy, even when they worked hard. They were called the "Sisters of the Venerable Geronimo". The sisters cared for the orphans.
Lavigerie realized that there was need not only for sisters able to do material work, but there was also the need for sisters capable of teaching catechesis and taking care of the education of children. Therefore they needed themselves be educated.
As the situation changed, Lavigerie changed his plans for the congregation of sisters. Farming would take second place; children's education, contact with indigenous women would become the main work of his Congregation of Missionary Sisters.
In 1871 he sent the first group of sisters to Laghouat. A postulate was opened in France.
The sisters did well in craft schools, dispensaries and hospitals, visiting people and taking care of orphans. Yet, Mgr Lavigerie did not believe that they could run their own affairs. He wanted to merge them with other congregations but those plans did not work out. Finally he thought of dissolving the congregation and sending the sisters home.
"Be truly sisters
to one another"
(Mother Marie Salome)
In 1882, Sister Marie Salome (“Our Founders”) had been elected General Superior, a woman who firmly believed in the young congregation and had the qualities to lead it ahead.
Mother Marie Salome and Sister Marie Gonzague went to see the founder in order to convince him that the congregation could live. No means! He seemed to be decided.
The two sisters went to pray in front of the statue of Our Lady of Africa making the promise that if Mary interceded for the continuation of the congregation, a statue of Mary would be placed in front of the Motherhouse.
The events took a more favorable turn in 1885 when Cardinal Lavigerie was called to Tunisia and he left the matter to Bishop Dusserre who found that the sisters were doing quite well. He became their advocate with the Cardinal and so the congregation of the Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Africa continued to grow, and the sisters were sent all over Africa. Today we are still present in 15 countries of Africa. Read more
News a New
The New newsletter is out
Greeting and Happy new year to everyone. Have a look at the News Letter click the cover to see PDF
SISTER MARGARET MCGRATH
BUILDING BRIDGES OF FRIENDSHIP
Our contact in UK
Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Africa
Flat 12 Montpelier Road
London W5 2QN
Tel: 0208 998 6731