Mama Bea, was the first name I gave her and by which I always called her!

miburoShe was a mother to us because in Congo sisters are called mothers (mama). Coming fresh from home, as a pre-postulant, this was my first encounter with her. She welcomed my companions and me and took good care of us like a mother would do. Through her we saw the face of the congregation. She was a life-giving person always ready to care for us as a mother would do. She was a protective mother while guiding and accompanying us. She was very human and understanding. We enjoyed especially the evenings when we would dance and sing with her. She could teach us some songs and dance steps. Although she was quite heavy, she was very light and flexible when it came to dancing.  The beautiful smile on her face when you went to knock at her door was heart soothing that you would feel calm even if you were troubled and ready to pack up and go home. We made a very long journey during the war of 1996 from Bukavu to Arusha in Tanzania passing via Kigali in Rwanda and Kisubi in Uganda. A journey that made us still grow and bond together as one family. Through that journey I learned a lot from her about going on a journey as a missionary with prayer at the Centre of everything; how you take care of your important documents and how you have to remain discreet when people ask you personal questions etc. We didn’t only make a physical journey together but it was indeed a spiritual journey together in that very difficult time. Mama Beatrice was a real support to us! Arriving in Arusha we found ourselves with her at the same table in the classroom to learn English, what simplicity! At her age, it was not quite easy to learn like ourselves who were still in our 20s. She was our role model of humility and simplicity. She let herself to be corrected, we joked together about our mistakes, we laughed at each other’s mistakes and yet she was our postulate mistress! Thank you Mama Beatrice for being the open book of the life of the congregation which I and many others have read!

We parted ways, as I continued my journey to apostolic experience, Novitiate etc… and she moved to West Africa. Our roads crossed again in 2015 when I met her in Bukavu. Dada Beatrice was a reliable big sister on whom I could always count. She was still full of energy and enthusiasm in the service of accompanying the postulants.  You could feel through the meetings how much she loved them and wished well for each of them in accompanying them. Her optimism made of her a bearer of hope, which sustained her through her sickness. Sometimes I asked myself how it would be if I were the one who was sick because, for her, it was always, “all is fine, all will be fine”. She never lost hope until the last moment; she kept on hoping for improvement, for the best. Indeed, the life she was hoping for is really the life of Christ that doesn’t have an end.

Yes, it is time to say bye, to hand you over to our God, who gave you to us. I say thank you on behalf of so many younger members of the congregation whom you accompanied like myself. Thank you for the legacy you left us. Thank you for being one more angel praying for us and for the mission entrusted to the congregation. We shall miss you but God loved you more than us. Farewell Mama Beatrice!

May the earth of our ancestors be light and tender to you!

Sr. Florence Mwamba Malunga

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