“All I want is to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and to share his sufferings by reproducing the pattern of his death.” (Phil 3:10)
Faithful to the inspiration of our founder Bishop Urban Murphy CP, we Sisters of Calvary have a special compassion for the poor, the suffering, broken families, prisoners and the marginalized.
We follow Christ Crucified in the self-sacrificing and constant love and we are to be women of prayer, living in religious apostolic communities. (1 Cor 2: 2b)
While still in Lobatse, Sister Olcan was requested by Bishop Murphy to draw up a constitution for the new congregation. Since the process was going to take long, her congregation allowed her to use the Constitution of the Cross and Passion Sisters in the interim as well as use it as the guide for the new Constitution. The Late Sr. Theresa Lesetedi when asked at the stage about their formation, confirmed that they were trained using the Constitution of the Cross and Passion (Interview July 26, 2006).
It followed therefore, that the Constitution for the new congregation. Sr Olcan modelled the Constitution of the Sisters of Calvary on that of the Cross and Passion which is bsed on the spirituality of St Paul of the Cross.
For that reason, it followed therefore that the Sisters of Calvary belonged to the wider Family of the Spirituality of St. Paul of the Cross. Hopefully, the sisters would in the course of time, be officially affiliated to the wider family that follows the same spirituality.
In drafting the Constitution of the Sisters of Calvary, Sr Olcan was helped by Sr Mary Columba C.P. and a number of the Passionist Fathers like Frs Donal Connolly, Cathal Buctle, John Corrigan and Barnabas Aherne C.P. of the key persons who contributed most in this process was Fr Gasper Caulfield C.P.
During his visit to Botswana Sr. Olcan asked him to browse through the draft constitution and make necessary adjustments, Fr Gasper assisted sr Olcan in getting two canonists to give their full assessment of the document begore it was finally submitted to the office of the Congregation of the Evangelization of People in Rome for approval.
The first draft of the Constitution was submitted to Rome in 1967. The second in 1969 which contained a request for change of name from “Handmaid of the Sacred Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ.”
The Connotation of the name conveyed the idea of servitude. Four names were suggested in order of preference:
- Sisters of Calvary
- Sisters of the Sacred Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ
- Religious of Calvary
- Society of the Passion
The second draft was returned in 1970 with approval of the name Sisters of Calvary. The name was suggested by Sr Gemma Mohamadi. When asked why she came up with this name, Sr Gemma said probably she was influenced by the life of St. Gemma Galgani, her favourite Passionist Saint.
It took almost 2 years before the constitution was of the Sisters of Calvary was approved from 1966 to 1970. This was worthwhile because at the end, the final document that was submitted to Rome was said to be a masterpiece. From the point of view of the office for the Evangelization of People, the document reflected a balance of spirituality and juridical life. (Letter of Fr Gasper dated 17th September 1970).
Bisjop Murphy was then given permission by the same office to give His imprimatur, which he did on the 14th September 1971. Thus the Constitution of the Sisters of Calvary was approved in 1971. This is that the Sisters of Calvary in preparation of their first General Chapter reviewed.
The Origin of the Emblem and who designed it
The Sisters of Calvary were asked to design their emblem. After reflection and consultation Sr. Prisca Gaebuse’s design was approved together with the motto as it embraced well the Spirituality and Founder’s dream of the sisters evangelizing their people. Below is the Logo with the motto
The emblem is in the form of the map of Botswana, which symbolize that the Congregation was founded in Botswana for Batswana and as now, it receives candidates from Botswana only.
On top of the map are the rays that bring light and life to the people we serve. The rays are also a sign that there is life after death and that the cross, sufferings, challenges, sickness are not the end of life.
On the map there is Jesus on the Cross, a true sign that we are saved by His death. As the name implies, Calvary, Sisters are to uplift the lives of those who are dead spiritually, physically and psychologically. At the ceremony of final profession, the Sisters of Calvary receive the cross and a crown of thorns to remind them that they are to bear their own crosses gladly; trusting in God that beyond the cross is resurrection and hope.
The woman standing represents Our Lady, the Mother of Jesus and our Mother. Like Mother Mary, the sisters strive to be mothers to those faced with different challenges, walking with them and restoring their dignity so that they do not feel alone and abandoned. Mary is their model and like her, the sisters are called to embrace the cross as she did. May’s life fiat encourages them to press on and live their own “Yeses.”
The other figure symbolizes John, the beloved disciple. John represents humanity. Jesus Crucified wants to be closer to Him at all times. The sisters are compelled to bring people closer to Jesus. This means that they too should be closer to Jesus all the time.
A reflection on the Motto of the Sisters of Calvary “All I want is to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and to share in the fellowship of His suffering by reproducing the pattern of His death.” Phil 3:10
This is the key text, upon which the Congregation’s Spirituality is founded and from which the Charism of the Sisters of Calvary’s primary aim. As expressed Phil 3:8, “nothing can happen that will outweigh the Supreme advantage of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” Nothing is more important than knowledge of Christ which is of great value.
The Sisters of Calvary are therefore willing to lose everything in order to gain the treasure. They strive to lose all in order to embrace Christ in all circumstances. The terms, All, NOTHING, EVERYTHING, indicate the intensity of their desire and purpose.
With this intense desire, they are willing to put up with everything and can be content in all situations, challenges, joys, deprivations, hunger, etc. They chose this motto for their goal of life: to know, love and imitate Christ more and more, day by day. Even when they struggle and fail, their desire is to be transformed into Christ Crucified, to live and to die as He did; the task of one’s life time.
To know Christ and share in the fellowship of his suffering
It is not the knowledge about Christ, information about Him; but an experiential, personal knowledge that comes with daily contact with Him. Christ is alive and active today. Like one author once said, “He became more powerful in His death than when still alive.” (Heb13:8).
To know Christ is to know Him, His love and have His love in us, as expressed in Eph 3:16-19 by Paul. Knowledge of Christ is twofold: He knows us and we know Him as it is in any friendship. This is what the Sisters of Calvary are striving for in imitating of his mutual love with the Father.
Christ is an infinite mystery that we can never exhaust. We can then know Christ, experience Him and share in the fellowship of His suffering through prayer and in everyday life. Since knowledge pf Christ is also union with Him, we want to know Him to the extent of dying to our old self, accepting His Cross and sharing in His sufferings.
We cannot embrace Christ without embracing His Cross as well. As Sisters of Calvary, carrying the cross is inseparable from following Him. We do not only carry the cross externally as we do during our Final Vows, buy we also carry our crosses internally; the pains we endure, the disappointments, rejections, hurts and our failures are but just a portion of the crosses we carry everyday with joy and love.
Knowing the Crucified Christ is recognizing Him and his presence in all humanity. All are made in the image and likeness of God so that Christ is manifested in each person we encounter.