Princeton vocation director to Africa for 3-month mission
PRINCETON — “Go where there is need of you” is one of the mottos of the Sisters of Mary of the Presentation and that is what Sister Anne Germaine Picard, SMP, of Princeton plans to do this spring. On March 31 she will travel to Cameroon in East Africa to minister with the Sisters of her community for three months.
Going with her are Sister Suzanne Stahl, SMP, assistant provincial of the Sisters of Mary of the Presentation, and a lay associate from New York City who is an occupational therapist.
“The main purpose of our trip is to give support and encouragement and
to get acquainted with our Africa mission,” said Sister Anne Germaine, who is director of vocation ministry for her community. “We want to let them know that they are remembered by the rest of our community, but we also want to become more aware of them and their needs.”
This is important since the Sisters of Mary of the Presentation cannot send an American Sister to serve in Africa full time, but only for brief stays, she said.
They are planning to make the most of that brief stay, however.
Sister Anne Germaine said that she and Sister Suzanne have requested to be a real part of the mission while they’re there, so they’re hoping to join the Sisters in all aspects of their ministry.
The Sisters of Mary of the Presentation have had a presence in Cameroon since 1956 and have built a hospital and established schools there. Since school ends in May, they will be spending two weeks at a time in different areas.
Other needs addressed by the Sisters are hygiene, women’s care and infant care. Sister Anne Germaine said there is a high infant mortality rate and the Sisters are working to provide vital education to try to curb this.
“In my reading of the history I was very edified by the priests and the bishops and the ministry of the lay catechists,” she added. “These were farmers. There are base communities that they go out and evangelize and our Sisters are a real part of that.”
In terms of vocation ministry, Cameroon is an exciting place, according to Sister Anne Germaine.
“That’s the branch of the tree of the Sisters of Mary of the Presentation that’s really growing, really flourishing,” she told The Catholic Post. “We now have 14 native women who made their final commitment as Sisters of Mary of the Presentation. We have six Sisters in temporary vows and several novices in formation.”
One of the Sisters from Cameroon has just been elected to take a leadership role in the international community.
Sister Anne Germaine said she feels that she is part of the vocation story there, too.
“In 1955 our community asked the Lord for 15 candidates to our community if we sent an American Sister to Cameroon and we got 15 — I was one of them,” she said. “I entered in 1956.”
When people ask her about her impending mission trip, she said she tells them “the Lord’s opened this door for me and he will open the other doors.” In the meantime, she is reviewing her French so she can minister well in the predominantly French-speaking nation.
What does she expect to bring back from the experience?
“There is the hope that women are responding to the call of religious life today, especially in our African missions,” Sister Anne Germaine said.
That knowledge will help members of the community to continue to have hope and trust that God is answering their prayers — “maybe not the way we think they ought to be, but they are being answered. To persevere and live our life as fully as we can.”