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Mariya uMama weThemba Monastery
Grahamstown South Africa

In all our planning to come to South Africa, we had no agenda beyond praying, living the Benedictine life as best we can and running a Guesthouse ministry. These activities we knew how to do. Brs. Timothy, Andrew and I, Br. John all had experience doing them.Long View of Monastery complex

Everything else we have done since arose out of this simple foundation. Our life centered in prayer and in following of the Gospel as prescribed in St. Benedict's Rule has opened our eyes and our hearts to our environment here just 7km outside of Grahamstown. We have been awakened in transforming ways. We have listened "with the ear of our hearts" and have responded to what we have heard. We didn't go out to find ministry. Ministry found us. We could not refuse the opportunities that we were given to make the Gospel come alive for us and for the people we have touched. We envision that this will not diminish but only increase as the needs grow and as we grow as a community both in size and maturity.

In thinking about our life and the life of the people in this rural area Br. John with a guestof South Africa, one word keeps coming. It is empowerment. We have tried to foster a feeling of value and worth both for each other, for those who come to us and for our neighbors. We have tried to provide fair chances and opportunity while trying not to handhold. We have tried to nurture a sense of independence and confidence. Our activities have ranged from making it possible for children and adults to have a good education in the many excellent schools and adult education programs in Grahamstown to helping women and children get their rightful protection from the South African law against the violence and abuse they have lived with all too long; from supporting (and transporting) people in their journeys to sobriety to offering some relief from the heavy and perpetual oppression of poverty. And through our hospitality, we have tried to make all feel welcome in a country when that wasn't always true and in some cases still isn't, bringing much healing to look forward and not hold on to the past. This empowerment is the gift that Christ teaches us to nurture and of which Benedict continues to remind us.

 

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