In January 2021 Sr Mairead Ni Chuirc will travel to Malawi to a new country and a new ministry. In this article Mairead shares how she feels about this new chapter in her life.
Preparing for my move to Konzalendo in the Zambia/Malawi Region is both exciting and daunting. The supportive phone calls, and messages I have received from sisters remind me that, as our Chapter Document 2020 states, we are ‘journeying together into the new dawn’. I am very conscious that there are many sisters in the Congregation who are in transition at this time. So many have changed their community, Region or Province, their ministry or are preparing to move into or out of leadership roles. It feels as if the whole Congregation is in a state of upheaval – or to look at it in a positive light –in a ‘liminal space’ – moving towards an unknown future, our new dawn. I know that I will feel a sense of solidarity with others in this time of transition – because all of us together are engaged with this aspect of our call ‘to journey together into the new dawn’.
People have asked me what I will be doing in Malawi – a question I am unable to answer directly. The sisters who have lived in Konzalendo before me have all contributed to our presence with the people there and my efforts will be a continuation of theirs. I feel that the most important attitude I can adopt is to have a ‘listening heart’ and a willingness to walk alongside people and to hear their desires and concerns. Pope Francis promotes this approach in Fratelli Tutti where he speaks of our efforts being ‘with’ and ‘of’ the poor as distinct from ‘for’ the poor. So too our chapter documents ask us to be ‘united in our differences and truly respectful of the other’.
My memory of Konzalendo from a visit I made there is of a place of great natural beauty yet there are problems of deforestation, soil erosion, mono cultivation, e.g. tea and banana plantations, which have impacted negatively on biodiversity. Lines from Derek Mahon’s poem Washing Up are apt
There’s so much washing up to do/on the degraded planet now –
Oceans and forests, oily sands,/our filthy-lucrative demands
on the resources of this place
Yet he goes on to speak of the possibility of ‘a real world where fauna thrive and precious habitats survive’. I hope there will be opportunities to work with the people in promoting biodiversity as well as growing in appreciation of our oneness with the whole of creation.
Thankfully with mobile phones, online meetings and emails there are ways of staying in touch with sisters and family members in different parts of the world. I look forward to being kept informed and keeping others informed of the latest news. Mary Aikenhead, being herself such a prolific letter writer, would no doubt approve!