“Our faith is renewed with the Pope and we are very grateful that he give (sic) us the audience. We are very grateful that he has time for us. We are very grateful that we are working together for the Church. So we are very proud to be Catholics,” said Sr. Nsiah, mother superior of the Daughters of the Most Blessed Trinity.
She is one of about 800 religious sisters who were in Rome May 3-7 for the general assembly of the International Union of Superiors General, which discussed the prophetic nature of the Church and the nature of authority.
When they had their last gathering in 2010, Pope Benedict did not meet with them, so the time they had with Pope Francis was eagerly welcomed.
The sisters met with the Pope at 9:30 on Wednesday morning in the Paul VI Hall, about an hour before the start of his weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square.
Pope Francis spoke with the sisters about how important their work is for the Church and reflected on their vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.
As she left St. Peter’s Square after the May 8 general audience, Sr. Nsiah recounted the meeting for CNA.
“He gave a very good encouragement about our commitment to the Lord, how we are called by the Lord to serve him in the Church and how we are important in the Church,” she said.
The Pope also stressed the importance of the sisters being spiritual “mothers and not spinsters!”
“Chastity enlarges the freedom of your gift to God and others with Christ's tenderness, mercy, and closeness. But, please, (make it) a ‘fertile’ chastity, which generates spiritual children in the Church,” he told the consecrated women.
“Forgive me if I talk like this,” he added, “but this maternity of consecrated life, this fruitfulness is important!”
For Sr. Nsiah, the Holy Father’s words underscored that “without us, the maternity of the Church is lacking.”
Apostolate in Ghana
Sr. Nsiah also shared some of the struggles her congregation, the Daughters of the Most Blessed Trinity, experiences in its work to care for poor women and impoverished mentally or physically disabled people.
“Number one, we have a problem of finances because we are a developing country,” she explained.
The shortage of funding means that the sisters sometimes are not able to help all the people who come to them for assistance.
And although the political situation in Ghana is stable, Sr. Nsiah described development in that realm as “very slow.”
“And so it affects all of us: our mission and our dreams. So it is very difficult,” she explained
“But we are managing to do our best to serve the Lord, in the poor, in the simple, in the children, in the women especially, who are always left behind,” she commented.
When it comes to the Church in Africa as a whole, Sr. Nsiah believes that it is strong and “very committed.”
“Now the Church is greater in Africa and the morale is very high. So we are very proud. The Church is Africa and Africa is gradually growing; growing bigger and bigger everyday. So we are very happy,” she reported.
When she returns to her sisters in the central city of Kumasi, Sr. Nsiah said that she will tell them, “the vocation we have chosen, it is the Lord’s.”
“The work – our work – is the work of the Lord. When we do it well, the Lord will bless us and our reward is in heaven. And our mother, Mary, is our inspiration. And since she was able to work with Jesus, with her support, we are able to do our work.
“So we will not be discouraged, we are there, firm!” she joyfully proclaimed.
Marta Jiménez Ibáñez contributed to this report.
Sister Alice Matilda Nsiah says that Pope Francis’ decision to meet with her and other superiors general on Wednesday left them encouraged, grateful and proud to be Catholic.
Vatican, Vocations, Women Religious, Pope Francis