“TWO CONTINENTS, TWO CONFERENCES AND ONE HEART”
Report from Marisa Moreno de Malcher, AMASC President 2014-2018 I June 2017
The months of April and May gave me the opportunity to experience two different worlds, distant geographically ant yet, so close in spirit and passion.
San Francisco California, in the United States was the seat for the AASH Conference with the theme, CREATE THE FUTURE CELEBRATE THE PAST. Mary Forsyth, AASH President did a great job preparing it with the help of the incoming board, wonderful, professional and passionate younger ladies that will be taking over this month. Sr. Sheila Hammond, RSCJ Provincial and Mary opened the Conference.
Sr. Suzanne Cooke, RSCJ, head of Conference on SH Education, Keynote speaker, spoke of the Sacred Heart education followed by a panel of SH educators for questions and answers.
The conference was filled with speakers and panelists covering topics as varied as the goals/mission of the Network, the upcoming Bicentennial events, alumni pursuing careers in film, alumni pursuing careers in technology, and Sacred Heart alumnae who are Olympians. Katie Ledecky and Lia Neal and Paralympian Kelly Crowley all attended Sacred Heart schools were among the alums at the conference
Something relevant during the Conference is the Awards given, Cor Unum Award, recognizing an alumna for excellence in one´s work, loyalty to Sacred Heart values and the gift of self in service to the others. Our dear former AMASC Secretary General, Maureen Elliot, as well as five other alumnae were awarded this Cor Unum as well.
Another Award, is the Woman of Conscience Award given to two individuals, whose “shining” examples must be thanked and celebrated: Sr. Barbara Dawson RSCJ and Sr. Mary Be Mardel RSCJ.
San Francisco has a very well known Sacred Heart School and in the area, there is another one, Atherton once known as Menlo Park. Within that area, there is a lovely retirement center for the elderly RSCJs, Oakwood, where we all had the pleasure of having dinner with them; for many American alumnae the pleasure of meeting their “mothers” from their schooldays was enormous. I personally was very happy of meeting Sr. Clare Pratt RSCJ whom I knew from her days as Superior General during one of her trips to Mexico.
San Francisco is a beautiful town, the wonderful setting for a warm get together being the legendary American hospitality a perfect complement for a great Conference. I am very grateful with my hosts who kindly asked me to say a prayer in Spanish as a sign of the multicultural Sacred Heart family and a brief talk on the coming Congress.
Only one week later, after my return from San Francisco I left for Uganda. Far enough from Mexico, I left on a Monday morning and arrived on Wednesday. As I was on my own, I had time to think about the future of AMASC as I´m sure many of you who love this Family, are already thinking. The coming Congress will bring changes and among them the renew of the board members as many have been serving two consecutive mandates. Looking for a President is everyone´s responsibility because the deadlines must be observed.
Entebbe has a very small airport and the receiving surch a welcome made everyone turn their eyes toward us. The Provincial, Hilda Bamwine RSCJ, Rosemary Nmukassa Ssembajjwe UASHA President and her lovely daughter with an enormous bouquet of flowers and amid laughter, hugs and kisses. Very unexpected but also very familiar, as in Mexico, we are very loud! From the airport, we were taken to the Mbuya community, we, because Hermine van Asten former president of AMASC was traveling with me from Amsterdam. She was also invited to the Conference and keeps on working with the Society ever since she left the AMASC presidency.
The Conference took place in Kampala with the presence of a big delegation from DRC, one gentleman from Chad, two representatives from Egypt with one RSCJ Celest, who integrated so well, as if they were already AMASC members.
The Theme of the Conference: LIVING HUMANLY: OUR HOPES AND CHALLENGES IN THE 21ST CENTURY.
We stayed at the Pope Paul VI Hotel with all services at the same place and the program was well kept despite the difficulties to keep up with the timing.
Among the attendees, there were many RSCJs from the Uganda Kenya province, all vocations are fruit of the work the Society living there as well as some RSCJs from other countries that have been there forso many years that they feel very much at home.
All delegations had a report very well prepared and were presented with songs and dances as signs of joy and love for the Sacred Heart family. I must really say, it is very inspiring the way that they live their passion as members of a family. Although Uganda is very much a catholic country, they have undergone difficulties that they have overcome with the help received from the RSCJs through education. Women are now more empowered, many of them have gone to the university and have positions even in government.
As for DRC I noticed that they are very proud of being already AMASC members, I cannot speak of the country because I haven´t been there, but they are very much willing to host next African Conference. They were a large and very solid delegation.
Chad was represented by Mr. Ndingadnan Otongar, the young President of ANASC-TCHAD which already exist as an association but are waiting for their constitution to be approved and get accepted as AMASC member.
Egypt was the big surprise, the two young ladies and the RSCJ with them brought good spirit to the conference all the time.
Last but not least, Philomene Makolo from Canada spoke also of her association there and her life as a SH child in both, Congo and Belgium.
The conference would not be complete without the words of the RSCJs on the relation of Alumnae and the Society of the Sacred Heart from Sr. Hilda Bamwine, Sr. Secondina Baitwababo talking of Mother Janet Stuart on Education and Sr. Mary Roe on the story of Saint M Sophie.
Perhaps many of you have not heard of Betty Ogiel Rubanga and her story of resilience, determination and luck amidst hardship for an African girl child in her passionate pursuit for education. She is the author of a book: AGAINST ALL ODDS. She presented it during the conference, it was already announced during the AASH Conference and she has been invited to talk about her life to different schools in the USA about all she had to endure to attend a Sacred Heart school.
I do not want to close my report without saying that in Africa there are still dreams to fulfill, chores that have to be done and that the Society of the Sacred Heart is very much alive and vibrant, and for me it has been a blessing to experience that world.
Marisa Moreno de Malcher