Little Sisters of Jesus in Egypt, My Final Vows

Salwa at work in a sowing factorySalwa at work in a sowing factory

« We proclaim a Christ crucified, scandal for the Jews and foolishness for the pagans... For what is foolishness for God is wiser than that of men, and what is weakness for God is stronger than that of men. » (ICo 1:23 and 25)

Dear Little Sisters and friends,

From the bottom of my heart I thank God for his strength which permitted me to say: « Yes, I am Yours, Lord, with all my being ». And now, I would like to share with you the grace and joy received from God because of this « yes ».

During the preparation for my final vows I had a very strong feeling of rechoosing my vocation again and I asked myself: What is making me say « yes » again? For whom and for what am I giving my life in consecration, until death? It was during a time of prayer, and precisely in contemplating the formula for the vows, that these words struck me:

« because of Jesus Christ and his Gospel ».
It was for me like a light and a very strong fire which radiated in me and gave me the faith to say: « Yes, I am Yours, Lord, with all my being ».

The preparation wasn't easy because at Fayoum, in the village of Choukr where our community is, there isn't an official building for the Church. There is only a little room to pray, and that was why, for the profession, we had to chose the parish in the town of Fayoum. But this small space wasn't sufficient to hold all the invited people. That asked of us a very great effort for the preparation, so that the ceremony be simple and prayerful. And it was thus - silent, recollected and prayerful, despite the lack of space of the place. We gave thanks to God for that.

Despite the difficult context and lack of means, it was a good occasion to work together, with the people of the village and those of the town. There was collaboration and solidarity which showed the love the people had for the Little sisters.

The parish of Fayoum didn't have an organized choir or singers. So, we got a choir together to pratice each week before the ceremony. These young people were very cooperative. And we also asked a team of singers from the village to serve the Mass. This team was composed only of girls. For myself, the fact that these girls sang at the Mass was an occasion to give a role to the women in our Church and to elevate their value in our society - that was for me the best gift for my vows. My family did not participate in the preparation of the vows, because they had left Fayoum a year ago, following difficult and painful circumstances caused by problems with Muslims. They could not return to Fayoum and confront the society there. It was for that reason that I liked making my vows at Fayoum itself, to give my family the occasion to live a sort of reconciliation and liberation, because I believe and have confidence that where there are wounds and weakness, the Lord makes himself present and leads to the liberation of the Gospel, which isn't constructed on the wisdom of human beings, but which is rooted in the wisdom of the crucified Christ. In Him the Gospel revolution of human values was accomplished.

I thank God for this grace of reconciliation which He gave us, to me, to my family and to all those who have suffered and were wounded by the events which my family went through two years ago.

In celebrating my vows in the heart of the Coptic Church, we felt that the spirituality of the Little sisters was a sign of hope in the lived Gospel, as the bishop of Fayoum said:

« The Fraternity has a special way in the Church to live poverty and simplicity ».

That was also what we lived with the pastor of the village, Father Morcos, who was a brother for us and who helped us very much for the preparation. The Sunday after my vows, he gave his sermon on the spirituality of Brother Charles, taking up again a lot of words of Little sister Magdeleine - « before being religious, be human ». He read the Gospel of Matthieu 25 and he said that the little sisters live this Gospel in the midst of the village and that this proves that the Gospel calls all Christians to live as brothers and sisters to each other and everyone.

During the Mass of my vows, I felt that what we were living at that moment was a strong sign of unity, an image of a banquet of the Kingdom of God, where each one found his/her place, because those invited to this ceremony were very different - very poor and rich, Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant. And at the very moment of my pronouncing my vows, we heard the Muslims praying in the mosque in front of the church.

I end with these words of Little sister Magdeleine :

«If you ask me to define in one word the mission of our Community, I would not hesitate for a minute to say: 'Unity', because in unity all can be summed up ».

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