An Interview with Sister Justine
Sisters of Mary Mother of the Church
A Brief History, Aim & Work of the SMMC
The Congregation of the Sisters of Mary Mother of the Church (SMMC) was founded in 1971 by Bishop Anthony Kongings (from Holland), the then Bishop of Keta-Ho Diocese. It is a Diocesan Congregation with a Regional character. The Congregation services the three Dioceses (Jasikan, Ho, and Keta-Akatsi) in the Volta Region of Ghana, West Africa. We have our postulant formation house in the Jasikan Diocese, and Novitiate formation center in the Ho Diocese, and our mother house in the Keta-Akatsi Diocese. Throughout the entire Region our impact is felt among Catholics and non-Catholics alike. Our communities and missionary activities are within the three Dioceses in the Region.
The Sisters in the Congregation are active religious women, who are tasked with a mission to respond to the call of Christ and to spread the Good News of the Kingdom of God. The Sisters are dedicated to services in the church and the needs of humanity under the vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience as a way of life. The aim of the founder was to create opportunities for young girls and young women who felt that they have been called to serve God through a consecrated life to do so. By and large, it is also to complement the works of the Irish OLA Missionary Sisters (the first women Religious Congregation to have settled in the Region), through involvement of indigenous people as an effort to enrich the work of evangelization within the Region.
Today, Koning’s efforts have borne much fruit, for over 80 young indigenous nuns have taken the tasks of nurturing and expanding what the OLA sisters have started. This young Congregation can boast of many aspirants to the religious life and therefore holds prospects in the fulfillment of its aims and objectives within the missionary work of the Catholic Church. This Congregation of the Sisters of Mary Mother of the church has teaching, nursing, and social work as her main apostolate. We teach in schools and parishes, work in the hospitals and clinics, and also work as social workers in the dioceses in which we are assigned to operate.
Pillars of Formation to the Religious Life
In pursuant of the founder’s aims and vision, young ladies who express the desire to become nuns are invited from time-to-time to stay in our communities and to observe the way of life of the professed nuns. Aspirants then move to postulants’ formation stage, a process of discernment (2 years), prayer, and response to the call of God in the Religious life. The Novitiate is the training centre for the young ladies who after a period of discernment feel they have been called by God to the Religious life and need to respond. It is in the novitiate that these young ladies are helped to finally discern and respond to the call of God (as a nun) through the formative and educative programs they undertake (for 2 years). Thus, the novitiate is a crucible of character and human formation, spiritual and pastoral, as well as academic formations toward the Religious life (sisterhood).