Sister Veronika Cibarika, a missionary in Solomon Islands
Sister Veronica how was your vocation born?
My vocation story begins when Sisters of Charity first arrived in my parish. I was so inspired by the energy and joy they brought. The seed of vocation was planted in that early age. At the age of 15, I entered a convent. Later during my formation period, I was thinking a lot about missions. However, I knew that before I go, I should gain more experience in religious life. I place my desire into God’s hands believing in His timing. Two years after my final professions I answered to that ‘vocation within vocation’ to become a missionary.
What does it mean for you to be a missionary?
In the first, place I would say to be a missionary is a precious gift from God. That gift opens widely our hearts for all world and fills us with the divine love to be able to bring Jesus to the people. Missionary life is full of different experiences. Every new day teaches me what it means to be a missionary – a gift that is to be revealed through encounters with people, through entering into their lives, listening to their stories. There is a lot of poverty and misery, but an immense joy of life comes from the faith in ‘Big Man’ (that is how people here call God) for who they know that will never forget them.
How do you live your usual day in the village of Buma in the Solomon Islands where you have been since 2018?
We start our day at 5:30 am with prayer and Mass. After that, we do our daily obligations. There are five of us sisters in our community and two novices, local girls who want to become sisters and serve God in the poor. One sister work as a nurse in the local clinic, one in the church, one in the sewing room, one as a formator of the local girls who join our community here. I work as an English teacher in primary school and coordinator of educational and spiritual programs for young girls that we provide in our training centre. In addition, we go to surrounding villages to visit people in their homes or to have programs for youth. Our task as missionaries is to strengthen the Catholic faith of people through all our work and actions. Every new day is unpredictable. Sometimes it means driving patients or pregnant woman to hospital or accepting families whose houses were crushed in the cyclone. Every day through our work, the Spirit invites us and encourages us, teaches us to be missionaries of compassionate love and instruments of His actions.
What are the difficulties you have encountered in these two years?
Nothing is easy, every job, every vocation is difficult. However, to be a missionary, to leave your family, your friends, your way of living – it is truly a great challenge. The greater the sacrifice, the greater the mercy of God who is always with us.
What do you think are the challenges facing a missionary ad gentes today?
Some missionaries facing different challenges put their own lives on risk for the faith in Jesus. Some live in countries where freedom of religion is prohibited. Solomon Islands are a very poor, but peaceful country. The Church is young here as the first Catholics were baptised only something more than one hundred years ago. There are many different challenges that missionaries ad gentes are facing today. As a missionary Church we are all together called by Christ to go and proclaim the Gospel to all nations. All Christians are called through the faith and baptism to take their part in it. I would like to thank all who support missionary work with their prayers and generosity in many different ways. United in prayer for all world that needs peace and hope in these difficult times!