Sr. Jecinter Antoinette Okoth, FSSA
Consecrated women in Eastern and Central Africa (ACWECA) in their just concluded plenary assembly have been urged to advocate for Covid-19 vaccination especially to those who are still resistant to receiving the vaccine.
Speaking on Thursday, August 26, on the topic “Collaborative networks for collective impact: A unifying lesson from the Covid-19 pandemic,” Sr. Jane Wakahiu the head of Catholic Sisters Initiative at Conrad N. Hilton Foundation said, “One specific challenge we face is ministering to those who remain resistant to vaccination against Covid-19 even as the pandemic continues to rage.”
She reminded the Consecrated women that “as a prophet called and commissioned by God to serve,” collaboration is key to help “guide those who continue to reject the vaccine as an option to save life.”
Referencing Joshua’s leadership and how he led Israelites to the Promised Land Sr. Wakahiu said, “We can borrow leadership examples from Joshua (where) he recounts ways that God intervened in their lives and the lives of their ancestors, and he rebuked the Israelites for their continued service to other gods.”
“Joshua challenged the Israelites as a community to affirm their commitment to God (and) declared, “As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua’s declaration inspired the Israelites to affirm the same, renew their covenant with God and agree to keep the statues and ordinances,” Sr. Wakahiu a member of the Little Sisters of St. Francis (LSOSF) shared with the online participants of ACWECA’s 18th Plenary Assembly and continued, “My dear sisters, it takes courage to stand up for what we know is right, to ‘love our neighbor’ through taking the vaccine.”
She narrated that Pope Francis underscored that “a vaccine is an act of love,” hence even though Sisters have stood up as prophets to educate and advocate for vaccine uptake, they are encouraged to continue doing so for that is “what prophets do.”
According to Sr. Wakahiu, “There has been massive misinformation about the pandemic through social media questioning the validity and reliability of vaccines.”
“We must learn to master this communications process if we are to counter those who are skeptical and who continue to mislead others, whether about vaccines or about health care or about education or about the needs of the people we serve,” she highlighted adding that the role of Religious Sisters is to “serve the Lord in all that we do, using all the tools of communications and collaboration to do so.”
In her presentation during the five-day plenary which concluded on Friday August 27, held under the theme “Re-awakening the Prophetic Role: A Call for Re-formation towards Holistic Transformation,” Sr. Wakahiu asked the Major Superiors of Congregations to “stop, pause and reflect together on the pandemic challenges” so as to find better and stronger ways of service.