Hermana Angélica, en Cita en la Diagonales Traducción al Inglés por Felicitas Soria.
Buyengero – 30th November 2012
It’s not usual to meet Sister Angélica in a diagonal. Born in Argentina as Teresa, from Burundi, where she lives since 1977, she communicated with us, by phone and e-mail, to tell us about the peculiar circumstances of her Vocation: being a nun.
She says: “Here my story begins. I’m the daughter of a large family. The seventh child, born on the seventh day, of the seventh month, 1941. The first memories of my life begin at the age of four: when “mamita”, as we all called her, took me to the funeral of my paternal grandmother. That memory is vivid even today.
“I grew up in the country, doing domestic chores: fetch water, pick up wood, milk the goats. And when I grew up, milk the cows. When the fruit season arrived, pick and peel peaches. When I started school, I was very happy, because she wouldn’t control me. She was very strict, and I, a rebel. When she was very old she would tell people: ‘this girl gave me a lot of trouble’. I can’t even say how many times she whipped me. But from dad, only once. He was very easy-going, and as he was away a lot due to his job as a construction worker, every time he came back, it was a party for all of us.
“It was a very Christian family. Going to Mass, saying the Rosary every day, doing charity work, even though we were poor; but there were others who were poorer than us. Mamita cared fanatically for them.
“When I finished my third year, they sent me to a school of the Slaves of the Sacred Heart of Brochero. There I was really happy. With other girls, we played to our hearts’ content. Particularly cestoball. I had to retake my fourth year, but I continued up to the second year of my professional studies. The third year was done back home.
“I think I was nine years old when dad took me to the school as an intern. He was holding my hand, when he rang the bell, and the door opened. A sister greeted us: Sister Rivero. When I saw her, I felt in my chest a shock that always remained with me. Something strange that wouldn’t leave me and that made me be pious, and make sacrifices. At times, it bothered me, because I wanted to be free and wild. Play, laugh, and even go to steal fruits from the Sister’s patch. Do a thousand and one pranks.
“When I grew up, around fourteen or fifteen years old, boys entered my life. I really liked them, I wanted to see them dancing, chat with them, kiss them. Since my family was so large, every once in a while, a relative would get married. Sometimes, when I begged, mamita would let me attend the wedding. Sometimes, she wouldn’t. The old lady kept a tight leash on us. I lived those moments with Marta, who is older than me. I enjoyed those parties like crazy. But when I returned home, in my bed, there was a struggle that wouldn’t let me sleep. Something that said in me: ‘No, I’m not made for this’. And I would get angry at myself. What to do?
“I spent a lot of year in this struggle, until I started rejecting that voice. I had a lot of male friends. And I met one that wanted to marry me. He did the military service, and then remained in Córdoba working. We wrote to each other regularly. One day, we met at the wedding of one my cousins. He pressured me for a positive answer. What a dilemma! I, who was always filled by insecurities! I told him I would think about it, and that I would give him my reply by letter. After a few days, I wrote a nice letter, even with drawings in blue: very pretty flowers. I like drawing and painting. I knew that we were going to town, so I would then send the letter. I was super happy. When I went for an envelope, there were none. So I thought that I would buy and one sent the letter. And when I started to write the address... The number... what was it? I wrote a number and sent the letter. When I returned home, I almost died. It wasn’t that number! Well... patience. We’ll see. I waited and waited, and there was no reply. It never came. I started to think that this was a sign, it cannot be misfortune. Sometime later, some young women came to the church, from the Secular Institute. I loved what they did. I visited them every time I went to church to meetings. And thus, the inner call began. Stronger and more clear”.
Hermana Angélica, en Cita en la Diagonales (2/2)
Buyengero – 30th November 2012
“When my parents realised where I wanted to go with my life, they went crazy. I could hear them talking at night: ‘This girls, who is a handful... If she goes with these women, she’ll go the wrong way’. One of my mother’s cousins, a nun, came to spend her holidays nearby, and they met her one Sunday at Mass. There, my parents told the nun their concerns. What will we do with this girl? The nun had no better idea than say to them: ‘Take her to Alta Gracia. There’s a nunnery for aspirants’. When they returned home, they told me about this, and I accepted the idea quickly. I saw in this the means to be free from my house. I had already begun to buy things, so when I turned twenty-one I could leave home. Well, a few weeks later, dad took me there. When the old Mother Superior walked me to the room I was to sleep in I said: ‘Look, I’m here only to obey my parents, the moment I turn twenty-one I’m out of there’. There I helped with chores. There were three nuns: two young ones, and the Mother Superior. Sometime later, a strange allergy attacked my left hand, on my knuckles. I used a lot of medicines, but there was no use. I couldn’t even wash my own clothes, because everything hurt me. Although I was happy there, I counted the days until my liberation.
“One October day, the Mother Superior told me: ‘Guillermina, I’ll give you and advice. Pray during the month of Saint Joseph, so he can shed light on you’. I accepted. It wasn’t hard for me to do it. I gave St Joseph a condition: if I am to enter life as a nun, I want my hand to heal a month before the date of the Postulancy, eighth of December. On the third of November, dad came to visit me. I had a bandage in my hand, to protect the wound from dust. Surprise! On the eight of November, my hand was healed. So I said to myself: ‘this is a sign. I must not doubt’. Thrilled, I went to tell all this to the sisters. They were also surprised. So, on the eight of December 1963, I entered the Convent. I did the postulancy for eight months, and then, I became a nun. As a novice, studying the works of the Congregation, I realised I would never go to Africa, which was a dream since childhood. So I spoke to my confessor and said: ‘Father, I want to leave this place. These sisters do not do work in Africa, and I want to be a missionary’. The Father replied that this couldn’t be, and that God would show me the road. And I believed him.
“Years passed; until news arrived saying that and African bishop had asked religious sisters of the Mercy to work in his diocese. I jumped in joy. This was my chance! I sent my request, was accepted, and here I am. I came to Burundi on the seventeenth of December of 1977. In this particular mission I’ve been since 1995. We went through a war, suffered with the old, with the children, and now I belong to an association called ASENABU, this means Association for the Non-Accompanied Children of Burundi. We take care to promote them, to educate them, of their health. Two young adults have finished university and they are now working. Another one finishes it this year. Another four are in their second year.
Traducción: Felicitas Soria Cita en las Diagonales: Psicoanálisis y Cultura.