In 1999 the Community of St. Mary opened a special novitiate for the formation of a new Anglican religious Order in Malawi in south central Africa. When the first sisters returned in 2002, they asked to continue as Sisters of St. Mary, under the Rule and as a branch house of CSM. Their desire for continued guidance in the ways of total dedication to God and service to his people was met by the American sisters' equal desire to fulfill this opportunity for mission.
The founding sisters matured splendidly, learning to live fully the evangelical counsels of Poverty, Chastity, and Obedience according to the Rule of the Community of St. Mary. They were life-professed in 2005. Novitiate training for other women continued until 2007, when the Malawian sisters took over their own formation process at the convent in Luwinga. Our vision for "mission" in Africa was less to evangelize and provide "an American way" of doing ministry so much as to build up an African community within Africa, imparting the best skills we could offer in a short time but building more on long term relationships. The sisters are the "missionaries" -- establishing their own African vision for ministry in the midst of their own people. From their convent in Luwinga they are building a Christian community center in the heart of poverty-stricken Malawi, providing a model of prayer, community-building,and sound management of natural resources.
In the Sisters' Own Words "Although 80% of Malawians are Christians, it is very mportant to have sisters in Northern Malawi. It will not only be beneficial to Northern Malawians, but to the whole Malawi as a nation. Since we are the first Anglican Malawian sisters, we need to help our fellow Malawians in their spiritual life, to bring them closer to God, to help people with our prayers, to share alms with the needy and poor in spirit, and to encourage other women to devote their lives to monastic life. We want to dedicate our lives to God in this way because we want to serve God with our whole heart, and to put our trust in Him. To thank Him for what He has been doing for us. To find the source of endless joy. To be the spouses of Christ. To answer His call and to devote ourselves in prayer, work, and study."
St. Mary's Convent in Luwinga, Malawi, Africa
The return of the founding sisters in September 2002 meant building the first Anglican monastic house for women in Malawi. The architectural style and materials of the convent are the handmade brick and tin roof construction typical of the area. Four sisters live and work at our branch house in Luwinga, drawn from all over Malawi. They hold altar guild workshops forthe women of the Diocese and teach Bible and prayer to children and young girls. They preach, visit the sick in hospitals and have a visible outreach in the larger Diocese, always respectful of their witness as women in a conservative, traditional society. The sisters have developed a nine-acre farm to provide food for themselves, guests and their orphans feeding ministry. They also work at the convent, sewing clerical shirts, church school and church women's group uniforms, and vestments as a ministry to the Church and to support themselves.
The Malawian sisters' latest endeavor, thanks to funding from American parishes, is to feed over 150 AIDS orphans once or twice a month in partnership with the local parishes of the area. These meals are a full day affair for children who cannot afford to go to school. The sisters provide a safe place to play and learn vocational skills as well as to worship God and to return home with enough food for the next day.
How You Can Help This Mission
The sisters are unable to generate much income in cash-poor Malawi and are dependent on the generosity of outside donations to maintain their outreach ministry. They also work at the convent, sewing clerical shirts, church school and church women's group uniforms, and vestments as a ministry to the Church and to support themselves.
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