Being a nun was not in her plans

23 Oct, 2021 - 00:10 0 Views
Being a nun was not in her plans Franciscan Missionaries of the Divine Motherhood Sisters

The Chronicle

Leonard Ncube, Victoria Falls Reporter
BEING a nun was not on her list of career paths until a time she watched a film showing the life story of Francis of Assisi titled “Brother Sun and Sister Moon.”

Sister Concilia Chemhere (44) a Catholic nun based in Victoria Falls said after watching the film, she was challenged to appreciate the scriptures, refocus life to doing good to others, live for Christ and surrender all to God.

The film was about how Francis of Assisi, an Italian, left his rich family to live a life of poverty serving God through dedicating his life to helping poor beggars and lepers.

“I was inspired by the fact that Francis came from a well-up family that had everything but he left everything to follow Christ. I looked at myself coming from an ordinary family, and felt challenged,” said Sr Concilia.

Her father died when she was eight and she was hesitant to tell her mother of her decision.

“I struggled to tell my mother as I was not sure how she would react, especially considering that no-one in our family was a religious sister. I prayed to God for courage to be able to speak to my mother about my desire and for her to understand. To my amazement, she encouraged me to freely choose what I wanted to do in life when I finally managed to tell her,” she said.

She was 19 when she joined the convent and has been a nun for 25 years.

Sr Concilia is the last born in a family of eight and visits her family once a year when she goes on a three-week annual leave.

She is a member of the Franciscan Missionaries of the Divine Motherhood (FMDM) Sisters.

Just like in priesthood, there are numerous religious congregations under which nuns choose to belong and train under.

The biggest challenge, she said, is when to break the news to parents about a decision to become a nun.

Some families frown when their children decide to become priests or
nuns, largely because that is a life of celibacy.

Nuns also face challenges in their life, chief among them learning to tolerate and embrace everyone.

“What we can call challenges is the learning to live in a community. We come from different backgrounds and walks of life and we have to learn to rise above difference and tolerate each other,” she says. After undergoing religious training, better known as formation in the convent, some go on to pursue different professions to become teachers, nurses, doctors, accountants and psychologists among others.

Sr Concilia is a trained accountant and works as a bursar for the FMDM Sisters’ congregation.

Sister Concilia Chemhere

To become a nun, one has to be a baptised and confirmed Catholic, have a vocation to religious life, be willing to give up everything for the sake of the Kingdom of God and a willingness to work anywhere around the world.

Joining priesthood and sisterhood is one of the seven sacraments in the Catholic Church which every devout member follow.

Dedicating their whole lives to celibacy, working for the church through various kinds of activities in communities they live in, their primary role and calling is rooted in their vocation to serve the church.

Others drop out during training largely after realizing their calling was not real.

“Some drop out and it’s largely due to discernment, when they realise they are not up for the calling. When in formation (training) you have some formators who journey with you in prayer and help you examine yourself. So, some drop out along the way as they realise it’s not their calling and change the career path.

“This is what we call vocation, you feel it from deep within that God is calling you to serve through evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity and obedience,” she said.

Sr Concilia said to be a religious sister is a response to God’s call to a personal relationship with the Almighty.

A person can join a convent at any age as long as she is not married and has lived a proven life of the fear of God, says Sr Concilia.

She said every call requires deep listening and ability to discern in order to ascertain where God is calling you to and for what.

The journey of a nun starts with one becoming an aspirant.

It takes between two to five years for one to become a religious sister and vows are renewed annually, as one continues to discern and deepen her relationship with God.

“A religious sister in the Catholic Church is a woman who has taken public vows of celibacy, poverty and obedience in a religious institute or congregation, dedicated to prayer, apostolic work and living evangelical life,” she said.

“It is a unique personal encounter with God. God calls and we respond. God speaks to us in different ways, think of the call of Abraham, Samuel, Mary and others.”

She did her primary and secondary education at Zinatsa Primary and
Secondary schools in Chivhu.

“I always thought it was the strangest thing to do, little did I know what God was planning for me. It happened when I had just finished writing my Ordinary Level and was awaiting my results and I decided to join the Legion of Mary, a lay group of young women who follow the life of Mary the Mother of Jesus,” she said.

Asked if she sometimes thinks of having her own family, Sr Concilia said: “When I decided to say yes to God, I knew what it meant. So I am at peace with life and appreciate it. This allows me to open my arms to everyone as I serve my vocation.” — @ncubeleon

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