The first 100 years

By Bp José Luis IMC

The first four “Mantellate Sisters” arrived in “Swaziland” on 05 December 1922
To celebrate the centenary of their presence we came together at Our Lady of Sorrows on 10 December 2022. Below is part of the bishop’s homily.

This week I kept asking myself: “what are we thanking God for?”. True that we can name the many places where they have served and the many initiatives they took but I was not satisfied. I felt there had to be something else because their school is excellent but there are other very good schools in the country. Their clinics are treasured by the people but there are other very good clinics in the country.

I was looking for something unique and I think I got the answer, at least “my” answer. We are here to thank God for the spirit that has led the Mantellate Sisters for the last 100 years… and 5 days! The expression they constantly repeat: “In humble service”, that is what I thank God for. 

The spirit that

– made them left everything: parents, relatives, friends, country… What did they know about Swaziland 100 years’ ago? They knew what they were leaving behind, not where they were going to;

– brought them here to witness to the love of Jesus by raising the people of this country, not themselves!

– makes them do everything without asking anything in return. There are very good clinics in the country but – at least some of them – might be businesses. The same applies to schools. In every part of the world when there are elections, there are people who show they care about others, but they do it to be voted and get a place in the new government. Here is different. None of these Sisters ever got rich out of their service and their congregation certainly became poorer!

– makes them live together even though they come from different countries: eSwatini, Italy, Kenya, D. R. Congo, Uganda… We say that “blood is thicker than water” but it seems that the water of baptism is thicker than blood. At a time when we experience so much gender based violence in our families (united by blood), their common call witnesses to the power of God;

– makes them accept suffering. Just two weeks’ ago a group of people broke into their clinic at Hluti, I was there a few hours later. I saw the fruit of their violence and – I would say – their hate against their own community who needs and benefit from this clinic. Earlier this year, the Sisters were robbed and hurt at Piggs Peak. While businesses leave a place when they see violence, the Sisters have not done so. They remain, like Mary, standing by the cross of Jesus.

Thanking God for the past should mark our lives today and tomorrow. The one who is truly grateful to God today – let me insist on this – the one who is truly grateful today thanks God by allowing herself / himself to be led by the same spirit. 

You and me might not be called to run a clinic or a school or a hostel for women but nothing really excuses us from being led by this spirit who has marked our country, our diocese, our lives for such a long time and, in this way, be God’s blessing to those we meet. 

Click below for Flickr photo album

 2022 - Mantellate Sisters Centenary