In this time of the pandemic, socio-political tensions and natural calamities, the Tertiary Sisters of Saint Francis (TSSF) are sparing no effort in listening attentively and responding to the signs and needs of the times. They do this after the example of their foundress, Venerable Maria Hueber, a daring woman of faith and complete surrender to the will of God. She placed her total trust in God, a God who is love, a God who taught her what true love is: laying down one's life for one's friends. Such love, focused seeking the good of the beloved, leads to total forgetful of self and risk-taking. In fact, to love is to risk. This she did, putting her trust entirely in God. It was this love that pushed her to risk by resolutely starting something altogether new and unprecedented in Tyrol: the education of girls. In September 1700, she opened a school for girls, something hitherto unheard of in South Tyrol. Only one who has total trust in God, one filled with love, could undauntedly undertake such an unprecedented venture, especially, at a time when education was a privilege reserved only for boys. She felt an urgent need to have girls educated and in a spirit of true compassion, having herself shared in the pain of these girls, decided to respond to take the risk of responding to this need. This endeavour stemmed from her attentiveness to the signs and needs of her time, openness and complete surrender to the will of God and the working of His grace. In the teeth of severe antagonism, she never surrendered, surely consoled with her Master's gentle whisper to her ears: "Do not be afraid of them for I am with you to protect you" (Jer. 1:18) and "My grace is enough for you" (2 Cor 12:9). She trusted that the grace of the Holy Spirit working in and through her could do great things to the glory of God.

It is in this same spirit that the Tertiary Sisters of the Cameroon Province living and working in a region ravaged by an armed socio-political conflict for four years now have decided to be attentive to the signs and the needs of the time, to open their eyes to the stark, heartbreaking realities staring at them at the face, to open their ears to the shouts, the cries, the moans, the sighs of a dejected people who have been badly hit by this appalling socio-political crisis which has culminated in a war. The crisis has claimed thousands of lives and rendered hundreds of thousands homeless, internally displaced and refugees. The Sisters are not indifferent to the plight of the victims of this unfortunate situation. They are readily and willingly responding to the signs and needs of the times. In spite of the challenges, these women of faith like Maria Hueber putting their lives on the line, risking their lives on a daily basis by seeking new ways of standing by the side of those rendered vulnerable and helpless by the war and empowering them. They are animated by the same Spirit of love with which their Mother Foundress was animated. It was in this spirit that the Provincial Leadership of Cameroon braved all the odds and sent nine sisters on mission to Nigeria in October 2020 to continue Christ's teaching and healing ministry and to attend to the needs of the thousands of Cameroonians seeking refuge in neighbouring Nigeria. In the same vein, Sr. Apolonia Budzee and a cream of TSSF, Composers and singers organized a virtual musical concert with the main objective of raising funds to give health care assistance to the affected and support the education of thousands of children who have not been able to go to school for the past four years as a result of the socio-political crisis and war in Anglophone Cameroon. The virtual event which was coordinated by Sr Priscilla Yein, was also an opportunity to evangelize by bearing witness to the solidarity which as Pope Francis posits in Fratelli Tutti goes beyond "sporadic acts of generosity". It was an event which testified to the fact that we cannot be safe alone because we are one big family.

(Sr. Marceline Yenmuleh)

 

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Tertiary Sisters of Saint Francis

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