By Lydia O'Kane
Sister Maria Concetta Esu is an Italian nun who for almost 60 years has devoted her life to missionary work in Africa. In her profession as a midwife, Sister Concetta has delivered thousands of babies and at 85 her commitment to children, mothers and families continues.
In recognition of her tireless efforts, Pope Francis at the end of his General Audience on Wednesday, honoured this Sister from the Congregation of the Daughters of St. Joseph of Genoni, telling her this accolade was “a sign of our affection and our ‘thanks’ for all the work you have done in the midst of our African brothers and sisters, in the service of life…”
The Pope told the pilgrims present that he had met Sr Maria Concetta in Bangui in the Central African Republic during his visit to open the Jubilee of Mercy in 2015, adding, “that day, too, she came from Congo in a canoe, … to do her shopping in Bangui.”
While honouring this religious sister, the Pontiff also took the opportunity to express his gratitude to all the missionaries, priests, religious and laity, who, he said, may not make the news, but “sow the seeds of the Kingdom of God in every part of the world.”
The Pope also spoke of Brazilian Cardinal Cláudio Hummes, who he recounted “goes to the cemetery and visits the graves of missionaries; many young people who have died from diseases...” Pope Francis said that the Cardinal told him, ‘they all deserve to be canonized’, because their life has been ‘consumed’ in service.
Sister Maria Concetta, who is in Rome for a meeting with her Congregation, is due to return to Africa to continue her work. Bidding her farewell, Pope Francis said, “Let us accompany her with prayer. And may her example help us all to live the Gospel wherever we are."