Soeurs de Saint-Joseph de Cluny
          200 years of presence of the Cluny Sisters in Senegal

200 years of presence of the Cluny Sisters in Senegal

Following are some echoes of the celebrations of the 200 years of presence of the Cluny Sisters in Senegal. It was a wonderful celebration of thanksgiving and at the same time, launched us into a future full of hope.

In October 2017, the preparation for the opening of the jubilee began with various committee meetings (liturgy, culture, reception-accommodation, finance, logistics, catering, health). Gratitude for the 200 years of dedicated service by the sisters has been evident through the generous commitment of all the Saint-Louisians and in particular the steering committee, led by the valiant Mr. Jean SARR, the leaders of each committee and of course not forgetting all the volunteers who worked in the shadows !

On Thursday, March 8, the sisters began to arrive as well as some collaborators for the immediate preparation. On Saturday, 10 March, the big day had arrived and we were all ready to welcome guests from Dakar, Thies, Baback, Fandene, Karang, Gambia and Guinea Bissau. As they entered Saint-Louis, the delegations were greeted by an "arrow" at the hotel Coumba Bang which led them to the Ahmet Fall High School. The guests were greeted by the sounds of a Diolas orchestra and a line of honor, formed by students radiantly dressed in traditional outfits.

After the meal, the pilgrims, discovering the city by following "in the footsteps of Anne Marie Javouhey" walked towards "Place Faidherbe" and visited the exhibition which traces the presence of the sisters since their arrival. There, everyone waited for the opening ceremony, including the police who ensured security all weekend.

The ceremony opened with the performance of the national anthem of Senegal, the Word of Welcome and the prayer of the priest of the Saint-Louis cathedral, the Abbot Ferdinand SAMBOU. The Vice-Provincial Superior, Sister Marie Fatima FAYE, the General Assistant Sister Claire STANLEY, the Secretary of the National Office of Catholic Education of Senegal, Brother Jean Marie THIOR and the Bishop of Saint-Louis, Mgr Ernest SAMBOU each spoke.

Following that, the Cheerleaders from Saint-Joseph School gave us a beautiful performance full of meaning and emotion. The speeches highlighted not only the Sisters’ charitable works throughout their 200 years of presence but also the good collaboration between religious and civil authorities.

The ceremony was followed by a show (songs, dances, theaters, fashion show ...) rich in meaning during which each community showed its talents. Next to the stage some of the sisters sold products (ointment and herbal oil, enriched flour and soap dispensaries, candles and jams made by the postulants). An exhibition showed the works of each community beautifying the garden of Place Faidherbe and attracting many visitors at the same time.


After a short break to regain strength, the cultural evening continued with a concert of different artists and the "Fanal" or lantern festival (ancient tradition of Catholic women of Saint-Louis which is now part of the folklore of the city) from Place Faidherbe to Ahmet Fall High School. This parade of the lantern was accompanied as usual by Linguera songs and other songs of thanksgiving in homage to Mother Anne Marie Javouhey and all the pioneers.

Thanks to the goodwill of all (hotels, inns, families, schools) and the gentle Saint-Louis breeze, the pilgrims were able to enjoy a good rest before the solemn opening of the jubilee, marked by the great Eucharistic celebration presided over by Bishop Ernest SAMBOU, Bishop of Saint Louis. Mass was followed by a fraternal lunch, a time of reunion filled with emotion, affection, friendship and grace before the return of the pilgrims.

Thus begins the jubilee year, a year of thanksgiving, personal and community conversion and especially prayers for the canonization of Blessed Anne Marie Javouhey.

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