In this file photo, St. Boniface Archbishop Albert LeGatt visits St. John Bosco Catholic Church in Poplar River, Man., for a celebration of first communion and confirmation. At the back is parish priest Rev. Arturo Nagraba. On the left is Sister Eucharia Mgbeadichie, HHCJ; Sister Glory Umoh, HHCJ, is on the right.
ST. BONIFACE — “The work of God must be done at all costs, no matter the inconvenience,” taught Mother Mary Magdalene Walker, foundress of the Sisters Handmaids of the Holy Child Jesus (HHCJ). The God of all creation is so loving, regardless of colour or race.
The sisters continue to carry out their pastoral ministry among the First Nations of northern Manitoba, a ministry started in the spring of 2013. Their work includes catechesis, faith sharing and prayer meetings, radio outreach, counselling and home visitations.
The most challenging part of their ministry is home visitations, regardless of religious denomination. Witnessing by actual presence has an immense impact. People are happy when they are listened to and prayed for; they are able to share their feelings and experiences.
“It is really helpful not only to the people but also to us,” says one of the sisters. “It calls us to meditation and sober reflection on God and life generally. We meet with many different people. I feel sad when we meet those who need financial help and we are not able to help. We never stop praying for them.”
Inasmuch as there are positive aspects to their ministry, there are also some heartbreaking challenges facing Aboriginal communities: there is alcoholism, smoking and solvent sniffing, sometimes in children as young as 10, who also experience bullying at school. This can lead to their dropping out and hanging out aimlessly. It can even lead to suicide.
In these challenges, the sisters note, God is still good. “We continue to pray for these good people, who hope and trust in God for a better tomorrow.”