Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Nuns say witnessing more important than conversion
LOIKAW, Myanmar (UCAN) — For the Sisters of Missionaries of Faith living among animists and Buddhists, evangelization is about setting a good example for others to follow.
“We show the Good News to the people with good examples. That’s how we carry out evangelization, said Sister Flora Aye, superior of the nuns in Dousanbu village near Loikaw. Evangelization, said the nun, was not proselytizing. “We are not trying to convert them to becoming Catholics,” she said. [So the eternal salvation of their souls is not important? And you call yourselves Catholic missionaries?]
Her community of four nuns [wow! Lots of vocation! Great example.] work among the Padaung, whose women are characterized by their distinctive brass neck coils. The nuns work primarily for the development of villagers and have even opened a nursery school.
There are 30 houses in the village, with only 10 of them Catholic. [Great missionary work!] The villagers are poor, illiterate and daily wage earners. The village has no electricity and living conditions are very poor.
The nuns visit villagers regularly, help with children’s education and reach out to the disabled. They also invite villagers to church during special occasions such as Christmas. [No conversions right?]
“We invite the villagers to our house too. That is how we share our lives with them,” Sister Flora said. “In the past, they didn’t know us well but now they even volunteer to help out with some of our work.”
During Lent, the nuns set aside a handful of rice before they cook their meals, and distribute it to the poor.
Villagers overcame initial suspicions
Sister Monica Jalin, in charge of a nursery school, recalled that when the nuns first started the school in 2005, villagers were wondering if it was a ruse to convert them. “But later on they understood that we were there to help with their kids’ education and develop the village.”
The nuns were not from the locality and had to struggle to learn the local language. “No matter what difficulties we faced, we proceeded with our mission of showing our faith through our example of love and helping the villagers,” Sister Flora said. [And still no conversion? Nothing wrong with being good but the ultimate goal of every missionary is to lead people to Christ! Baptisms, conversion...that's the goal!]
The nuns also carry out “re-evangelization” in Dousanbu and its surrounding four villages. “Re-evangelization” means strengthening the faith of Catholics by teaching them catechism as well as regularizing the marriages of couples from different faiths, the nuns said. [NOW WE'RE TALKING!]
Thein Mo Law Mu, a Buddhist man from the Padaung tribe, said, “I’m very glad that I have seen the improvement of my children with regard to education. I am thankful to the nuns. I want to help them as much I can in supporting their running of the nursery school.”
Nan Mya Mya Oo, a Buddhist, said she is closer to the nuns now after her Catholic husband passed away than when he was alive.
The Sisters of Missionaries of Faith is a congregation based in Italy with a local presence in Loikaw diocese. Its mission is service to all people. Presently, seven nuns work at two different locations in Loikaw diocese.
The issue of witnessing sometimes waters down the real purpose of a missionary's 'being'.
Salvation of souls is the great commission given by Christ to all the baptized, lay or ordained!