Sister Sandra Wiafewa Agyeman (Ofia) is a Ghanaian member of the Missionary Sisters Servants of the Holy Spirit. She began her ministry in a school in Ghana as an account clerk, helping with registration and admission. Later ministries there included pastoral work with people living with HIV/AIDS, ensuring their children's education, and organizing prayer experiences and recollections. For the past year, she has been attending the Institute of Formation and Religious Studies in the Philippines.
What ways has partnering with laity made your ministry more effective?
What have you learned through this experience?
Our lives as religious women and as women disciples have been a privilege and a gift. We can boldly count ourselves as creatures in whom the creator finds beauty and worth to partner with in bringing goodness and relief to those in the margins and to all who need the touch of Christ in a special way. And an especially joyful part of our life, in terms of our ministries, are the non-vowed people God sends us to help bring our apostolate to perfection.
Our partners among the laity, even though they may have family and businesses where they invest part of their time, prove to be dedicated laborers.
In these times of aging members, low vocation numbers and lack of personnel, we count on our lay partners. With a little training in our spirituality and mode of operation, some of our institutions — education, health, pastoral, women and youth empowerment and the like — are still growing. Their partnership with us makes it so easy to move on to new apostolates and new areas where our presence is needed.
In one of our schools for indigenous people, the pupils are so much more comfortable with and able to approach lay teachers who are indigenous themselves. When I first encountered the students, I was moved to praise God for the lives of our co-workers. Their contribution made our ideas and desires to bring education to the children very effective and more easily embraced.
Our pastoral apostolate in both urban and rural centers is much more effective with the help of our co-workers, as their contributions facilitate dialogue and communication with the ordinary folks to whom we minister. Through our co-workers, God's love is brought to all.
In my experience with lay partners, especially in our apostolate with people living with HIV and AIDS, we couldn't have started the program by ourselves. They help seek out patients who otherwise would not want to come out because of feeling stigmatized. They help organize monthly meetings and other things we might not be able to do ourselves.
Through our co-workers, the patients can trust us and allow us into their lives because we are in league with their own people. I see God at work in our non-vowed partners and consider them my equals in the sight of God, who finds us all worthy to work with him in his vineyard.
We're delighted to bring you this blog from the monthly feature "The Life" courtesy of our friends at Global Sisters Report. This month "The Life" panelists reflected on how laypeople are true partners in their ministry, advancing the mission of their congregations and teaching them useful lessons in life. Click HERE to read more blogs from The Life, GSR's monthly feature about the unique, challenging and very specific lives of women religious around the world.