Morocco. Speaking in silence

A short journey made up of small initiatives. “Testimony, meeting and service”. Sr. Natalia Moratinos of the Missionary Company of the Heart of Jesus tells us about it.

I arrived in Morocco in 2000, after 23 years of missionary life in the middle of the forest in the Democratic Republic of Congo. In the beginning, in Tetuon, a city in the north of the country, I felt lost, and thoughts and questions continually crowded my mind. Where do I start? I’m not ready for the city, I prefer village life. These people show no interest in us or the Christian faith. What am I to do? Furthermore, it is difficult to enter into people’s daily lives. With these and other concerns, I reflected on the best way to integrate into this city. I started studying the local language, Diyah, and enrolled in a traditional Moroccan embroidery workshop.

Two years later they proposed that we continue the missionary presence in Taza because the Franciscan Missionary Sisters of Mary had planned to leave the community. We went to see the place and were very happy. The Franciscans helped us connect with people and get to know the neediest neighbourhoods. Since 2002, four nuns from our congregation of different nationalities have been the only Christian presence in this predominantly Muslim city.

Taza, in northeastern Morocco, is located about 120 kilometres from the holy city of Fez. Most of its 153,000 inhabitants come from the surrounding mountains. They are hospitable, modest, joyful and attach a lot of importance to hospitality, so our integration was very easy.

I continue to dedicate time to learning the language, Dariya and official Arabic, as well as the Quran, because for people it is their world and it continually manifests itself in their daily lives. As missionaries we are called to evangelize and we evangelize by loving.

So, we try to do it within the spirituality of the Church of Morocco. We are part of the Archdiocese of Rabat, which wants to be a place of “witness, encounter and service” following in the footsteps of Charles de Foucauld, who invited us to combine the Gospel with all of life – and to speak in silence.

Family visits are a priority for us. There we have the opportunity to create relationships of friendship and fraternity. People share with us the main events of their lives such as births, weddings, burials or religious holidays, especially Ramadan and the Feast of the Lamb, and we share with them our Christmas, which is the Christian holiday they understand best because Mary is very much venerated in the Quran as the mother of Jesus. During Christmas, we received many visits from our Muslim friends and they gave us biscuits and sweets to congratulate us, and we spent the afternoons talking, singing and dancing.

With the help of a Moroccan lady, we founded the “Attadamon” Association in Taza. Morocco has a very high rate of people with disabilities and families do not have sufficient means to afford medical care, food or education.

We also opened a Moroccan embroidery workshop with a group of women so that they have time to be together, make progress in their human formation, earn some money and enjoy a degree of economic independence. One of the challenges we face is selling the products that are produced in our workshop. The markets are full of low-cost, low-quality goods, making it difficult to sell our handcrafted products.

As life and communities evolve, we have fostered more activities. For some years we have given school support lessons. We have helped migrants who spend weeks, months or years in Taza, almost always in precarious conditions, and this year we have opened a computer room for young students and workers. All these missionary activities are small-scale, but they are a small symbol that we also plan with the collaboration of the people.

In big cities, we can go unnoticed, but in Taza, being the only Christians, we feel every step we take is under observation. However, we feel we are appreciated for our life of prayer and dedication to the neediest, we enjoy everyone’s trust and, over the years, we receive respect, affection and a sense of mutual help. We are building bridges between Islam and Christianity, between East and West, and we do it as a daily religious dialogue in which we challenge each other in the coherence of our faith.

Subscribe to our mailing list!

Recent Posts