The mission of the Sisters has always been focused on service to others. Today, we are educators and supporters of our community, as well as maintaining missions in Africa and Brazil. Feel free to read more about our programs at home and abroad.
It has been said, “If you’ve met one Sister of St. Mary…you’ve met ONE Sister of St. Mary.” Over the years, our ministries have stretched far and wide, giving each Sister a unique role to fulfill. Today, we have a very small number of Sisters doing a little good overseas, but many are fulfilling their life’s work at the convent in Fort Worth, continuing with prayer and support of one another.
Sisters from Texas no longer work in Africa and Brazil, as they have been replaced by Sisters from those countries who themselves staff the schools, clinics and pastoral services.
More than 200 Sisters serve in Africa and Brazil. Some of the older Sisters in these countries are experiencing special medical needs. In Rwanda insurance doesn’t cover the more serious health problems, and in other countries there is no insurance. Consequently, a health fund has been started to assist aging Sisters in these countries.
In Africa the Sisters of Mary direct the schools and health centers, as well as conduct parish and diocesan pastoral work. These ministries require a strong educational background, so young Sisters in Africa and Brazil are doing further university and professional studies — at enormous expense. The future of the Church in Africa depends on the Sisters’ professional and religious underpinning.
The order’s Congolese Sisters work in four dioceses comprising 10 communities. Though most Sisters work full time, salaries, when they exist at all, do not completely cover their needs. For income, the Sisters raise cows and pigs, sew for the public, grind cassava and corn, etc. At the same time they remain engaged in the schools, orphanages and health, nutritional and social centers that serve the people.
In the small village of Mangai, Congo, about 500 miles from the capital of Kinshasa, the Sisters have built eight classrooms since 2000 to replace the old school that was literally falling down or in devastating disrepair. Thanks to the generosity of donors, they also have supplied medications for a health center.
In April 2014 the Sisters in Rwanda and throughout the world commemorated the 20th anniversary of the genocide. The country has made much progress in recovering from the ravages of that time. The Sisters continue to strive for reconciliation, including doing pastoral work with prisoners.
Sisters in Rwanda went to Tanzania in 2007, to a suburb south of Dar es Salaam, and began to build a school, each year adding one grade. Buoyed by donations, they have built several classrooms and are now trying to furnish them.
The Sisters in Brazil are working with religious and human rights organizations to combat human trafficking. They continue to care for the sick, for children at high risk, and for young people and women.
The Bishop of Leige, Belgium, has asked the Sisters to form a new International Mission Community in a small city in the heart of Belgium. Seraing is a city of diverse people: former Italians mixed in with Moroccans, Africans, Eastern Europeans, and people from Asia. The community will be composed of a Sister from Brazil, Congo, Rwanda, Cameroon, and from Texas, our own Sr Lola Ulapano. The hope of the Bishop – and of all of us – is that they can demonstrate the possibility of people of different races and experiences living together joyfully.
Dedicated supporters are vital to this work in the Sisters’ communities of Africa and Brazil. Please visit our contribution page to help the Sisters and the people they serve.
May you one day have the joy of meeting some of the Sisters from these countries who inspire with their tenacious commitment in often difficult circumstances.