By Laurika Nxumalo, South Africa
In a time when we are seeing a worldwide decline in vocations to religious life in the Catholic Church, the Sisters of Calvary in Gaborone, Botswana are blossoming.
The Congregation of the Sisters of Calvary is a Religious Institute of Diocesan Rite in Botswana, dedicated to the glory of God and redeeming love of Christ Crucified. The Congregation’s comes from Phil 3: 10, “All I want is to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and to share in the fellowship of His suffering by reproducing the pattern of His death”.
The congregation, under the current leadership of Superior General Sr Boitumelo Albertina Matlhabe SC was founded in 1966 by the first Bishop of Gaborone (Botswana) His Lordship Rt. Rev. Bishop Urban Charles Joseph Murphy .CP., from Dublin, Ireland.
The Sisters of Calvary were nurtured by Sisters of the Cross and Passion who arrived in Botswana in 1952. While still residing in Lobatse, Sr Olcan Watt CP, at the request of Bishop Murphy drew up a constitution for the Sisters of Calvary with help from Sr Mary Columba CP and Passionist priests such as Fr. Donal Connolly CP, Fr. Cathal Buctle CP, Fr. John Corrigan CP, and Fr. Barnabas Aherne CP. The key contributor among them all was Fr Gasper Caulfield CP.
Among other contributors to the identity of the Congregation is Sr Gemma Mohamadi SC; she is the one who came up with the name ‘Sisters of Calvary’. When she was asked about her choice bo the name said she was inspired by the life of St. Gemma Galgani, her favourite Passionist Saint. There is also Sr. Prisca Gaebuse SC, who after reflection and consultation came up with design of the Congregation’s emblem, which goes well with the motto in embracing the spirituality and the founder’s dream of the Sisters evangelizing to their people.
From its inception to the present day, the Congregation of the Sisters of Calvary has grown into a mustard tree. The congregation currently has 6 active projects, namely, Urban Murphy Nursery (nursery school), Olcan Watt Orchard (agriculture), Calvary Design (sewing project), Lit Orbis Calvaria (art & crafts), a bookshop & repository, and a bakery for altar breads. Through these projects the Sisters are cultivating their relationship with Christ so that they can walk in His footsteps. Jesus touched people and healed them (Mark 10:13-16), He looked at them and talked to them (Luke 19:1-10), and He listened to them and opened their eyes, hearts, and minds (Luke 24:13-39) – these projects are helping the Sisters of Calvary to do exactly what Jesus did.
Over and above their projects, the Sisters of Calvary are empowering themselves so that they can properly evangelize to their people. Among the professionals and the graduates within the Congregation of the Sisters of Calvary, there is Sr. Katlego Kgoreletso SC who graduated with a BA (Honors) degree in interior architecture, Sr. Kaone Tshikanokane SC who graduated with Bachelors degree in Social Work, Sr. Magdalena Mosalagae SC who received a PhD in Philosophy in Education, and Sr Gosego Ntapu SC who graduated with a Bachelors degree in Education Early Childhood and Development (she recently received the Meritorious service award at the 2022 Teacher’s Day celebration). There’s also Sr. Phatsimo Ramokgwebana SC who is a lecturer in the Communication Media and Broadcasting faculty at Limkokwing University of Creative Technology.
The Congregation also has members who are medical professionals (nurses) – there is Sr. Constance Letselea SC, Sr. Bontle Mmolaaphalana SC, Sr. Prisca Gaebuse SC and a trainee nurse, Sr. Resego Keabilwe SC.
The Sisters of Calvary are indeed living out their charism of having a special compassion for the poor, the suffering, broken families, prisoners and the marginalized.
May we continue praying for the Sisters of Calvary, that they never get tired of carrying their crosses and being women of prayer.
Our Lady of Sorrows, Pray For Us
Photo credit: Sisters of Calvary – Botswana Facebook page