In 1934 six Belgian religious sisters set out on a great adventure. Boarding a ship in Lisbon, they set sail on the long voyage to Africa in order to found the first ever Carmelite convent in central Africa, in what was then the Belgian Congo. Their convent, dedicated to the Infant Jesus, was to be the „cradle“ of the contemplative life in this region. Many local vocations followed and several other convents have since been established.
This first Carmelite convent, founded in the Kasai Region, was transferred 50 years later to Malole, in the Kananga region, in the centre of what is today the Democratic of the Congo. Today it is home to 18 African women, ranging in age from 21 to 88. The average age of the sisters is about 40 years.
Although the Carmelites live physically apart from the world, nonetheless in their ceaseless prayer they bring the needs of the entire world before God. Saint Therese of Lisieux (1873-1897) perfectly expressed the vocation to the contemplative life when she said, „At the heart of the Church I wish to be love.“
The convent is not far from the local seminary, which is altogether fitting, since in the silence of the enclosure the sisters devote themselves very specially to praying for priestly vocations and for the sanctification of priestly life. Sadly, though, in 2017 there were outbreaks of violence during which not only the Carmelite convent but also the seminary of Christ the King was attacked and looted. In fact a section of the seminary was even burnt down. Thank God no one was killed or injured. But in this strife-torn land, tormented for decades by civil war and violence, this was not the first time that the sisters had suffered such attacks, and even churches and religious buildings have fallen victim to them with tragic regularity.
Nevertheless, the people of the city of Malole are very happy to have the convent and the sisters present among them. Every day Holy Mass is celebrated here. But the faithful themselves are very poor and can do little to support the sisters. So ACN has come to their rescue, with a promise of 5400 Euros for the support of their life and ministry.