Dominican Nuns leave South Africa for Zambia

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On the 19th of August 2013, the Dominican contemplative nuns of the Monastery of St Dominic left Senekal in South Africa for Zambia. The seven nuns include: Sisters Bernadette, Monica, Maria Dolorosa, Lucy, Joyce Gabriel, Joyce Rita and Visitation. The relocation of this monastery is due to several reasons and the decision has been long thought and matured. The monastery of Senekal has been in existence for over 28 years and in recent years, the sisters have not had any vocations.

In fact, 28 years ago, seven Dominican contemplative nuns arrived in South Africa from Spain at the invitation of Bishop Hubert Bucher, then bishop of the Diocese of Bethlehem. They established themselves in a newly built monastery on the property of the local parish church in Senekal. Some ten years ago the Spanish nuns returned to Spain, leaving the monastery in the hands of African nuns who had joined the community from other monasteries in Kenya, the Cameroon and Burundi.

The hope had been that some young women would join them from South Africa but only three sisters transferred from other congregations. One or two young women stayed for a short while but none remained. So the sisters have been going through a moment of discernment for the future of their community in Senekal. For the last two years they have battled with the idea of relocating the monastery to a more conducive atmosphere.

Having visited various places in South Africa, they realized that any relocation anywhere within South Africa would only be temporary because none were promising. However, after visiting some dioceses in Zambia, they felt the Lords call to pitch their tent in the Diocese of Kabwe created in 2011.They then began the process of getting the necessary permission from the Holy See.

On the 11th of July 2013, they received the long awaited and desired letter from the Congregation for the Consecrated Life granting them the necessary permission to move to Zambia. Before they officially closed the doors of the monastery in Senekal, the nuns had a farewell Eucharistic Celebration on August 12, 2013. On August 19, the seven nuns finally left St Dominic’s Monastery in Senekal.

As fr Emil Blaser, OP (and the three novices) who assisted our nuns to move their properties said: “The Church in South Africa, particularly the Diocese of Bethlehem, will miss their prayerful presence in our country. The sisters left with heavy hearts, having come to love South Africa and its peoples but full of hope for their future in Zambia where they already have two applicants! We wish them well and express our gratitude for their presence amongst us over the years. The Dominican family in South Africa is now the poorer because of their exit.”

Fr. Gabriel Samba, OP
(04 September 2013)