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Quenching Christ’s thirst for the salvation of souls in Bobo Dioulasso, Burkina Faso

The Ursuline Sisters, Daughters of Mary Immaculate – History

The Congregation of the Ursuline Sisters, Daughters of Mary Immaculate (DMI), was founded in 1856 by the parish priest of Verona, Blessed Zefirino Agostini, a priest who was very zealous for young people, especially women, in difficulty.

The Daughters of Mary Immaculate arrived in Burkina Faso from Madagascar in 1992, when Mgr Anselme Sanon, then Archbishop of Bobo-Dioulasso and head of the national Caritas, visited Madagascar, where he got to know the Ursuline DMI sisters and their activities for the development of girls in remote villages. Before his return, he asked  the leader to set up a community of sisters for his diocese. The sister in charge gave him Mother General’s contact details.

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This request came as a confirmation for the congregation, which was in the midst of reflecting on the possibility of opening up to other countries in Africa. Italy was quick to respond, granting Bishop Anselme a community of sisters for his diocese. This first community was set up in Ouezzin-ville in the heart of Bobo Dioulasso.

Today, the Ursuline DMI have three communities in Burkina Faso: two in the diocese of Bobo-Dioulasso, and one in Ouagadougou, the political capital, which is also the seat of the region and the novitiate. In all, there are currently 14 Ursuline sisters in Burkina Faso: six in the Ouagadougou community, five in Ouezzin-ville and three at Colma in Bobo-Dioulasso. All the communities boast the presence of several nationalities: Madagascan, Italian and Burkinabè.

The Ursuline Sisters are also present in Burkina Faso’s neighbouring countries, notably in Togo (Diocese of Aneho) with a community of four sisters, and in Benin (Diocese of Cotonou) with a community of seven sisters.

The Charism and incarnation

The Charism is “to quench the thirst of Christ for the salvation of souls”, always with a preference for young girls in difficulty.

In Bobo-Dioulasso, the Ursuline Sisters, Daughters of Mary Immaculate, are committed to the education of young girls through a hostel and a professional training center with two streams: cutting and sewing, and catering and pastry-making.

To earn their daily bread and share with their neighbours, the Ursuline DMI sisters carry out a number of family-oriented activities, including raising chickens and gardening.

The sisters also lend a strong hand to catechesis within the high school and college chaplaincy. They prepare young people for the sacraments of Christian initiation.  In the local parish, the sisters are also active through the “Cœurs Vaillants Âmes Vaillantes” (CVAV) association and youth groups. In the neighbourhood, the DMI sisters devoutly support families in difficulty.

Ursuline Sister’s impression of the Works of Mercy Forum

I participated with joy and interest in the forum on the works of mercy, organized by Spazio Spadoni in Bobo-Dioulasso on the weekend of December 02-03, 2023. First of all, I was touched by the theme: “Making space for the re-evolution of works of mercy”, and secondly, the fact of living as brothers and sisters united in love during the forum was already a work of mercy for me. Christians and Muslims, nuns and religious, priests and laypeople all together.  It gave me great joy. Indeed, I was able to taste the richness of differences and diversity.  We felt like brothers and sisters, not bound by blood, but by God’s love and mercy… which made him present in our midst! The forum was not only a space for spiritual reflection, but one that became a concrete proposal, combining the reality and spirit of mercy with the urgency and concreteness of mission. With the testimony shared, I had the impression that Spazio Spadoni had given us the gift of a rediscovery of “what the Work of Mercy really is”.

The Works of Mercy Forum gave us a sense of the encounter between faith and culture, and plunged us into inter-religious dialogue, as the Imam helped us to understand how Muslims conceive and carry out the Works of Mercy in the light of the Koran! We also had enough sharing with our brothers and sisters in our Church. All in the spirit of family. There were no strangers, we all felt at home.

I want to learn more about Spazio Spadoni’s approach thanks to your experience and help. We have a vast opportunity to spread the spirit of the Works of Mercy, especially with young people. I’m well aware that the reality of educating young people requires a great deal of availability and resources. Thank you for your help!


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