Dakar (Agenzia Fides) - "Towards the horizon of 175 years of missionary presence in Senegal, we rejoice in our rich mosaic of yesterday and today". This is the theme of the celebrations for the 175th anniversary of the presence in Senegal of the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception of Castres, which will open tomorrow, January 11.
"The Jubilee is a time of grace that allows us to praise God, Lord of life and history, to review the past and to remember the many years that the Lord was with us in the Church and Senegalese society. It also opens the door to a return to the sources of the founding charism and an inner renewal to better face the world and its present realities to open", said Sister Marie Rose Dione, Provincial Superior of the Congregation, in the note sent to Fides.
On January 11, 1848, the Sisters of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception of Castres, under the direction of Bishop Jean Rémi Bessieux, a missionary of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit, came to Africa for the first time, in Senegal. Four sisters formed the first group of missionaries of the Congregation: Sister Joséphine Barthès, Sister Paule Lapique, Sister Louise Raynaud and Sister Cécile Bernard. The sisters of St. Joseph de Cluny welcomed them in Gorée for a few months before finally settling in their own home in Dakar on April 19, 1848.
Since then, the "Blue Sisters of Castres" in Senegal have dedicated themselves to evangelization through the preaching of the Good News and witness in the fields of education, health and pastoral care. They try to respond as much as possible to the needs of people in their living environment, in the spirit of their foundress, Saint Jeanne Emilie de Villeneuve: "Everything for God alone, for His greater glory and for the salvation of souls, seeking and fulfilling His will as Jesus the Savior, committing ourselves to the service of the poor and the suffering members of his body". (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 10/1/2022)