Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The First Egyptian Born Sister of St Joseph

Sister Myriam Zaki
Today, in Lyon France, I had the pleasure of sharing dinner with Sr. Myriam, who was the first Egyptian-born woman to enter the Sisters of St. Joseph of Lyon.  She came by the Motherhouse today to visit with one of the sisters who was in the novitiate with her. 

In 1907, the Lyon sisters went to Egypt and have had a continual presence there.  They work in schools, in the villages with the people doing pastorial work and social work, and doing nursing. Currently there are 16 sisters of St. Joseph of Lyon in Egypt, many are younger members. 
Sr. Myriam shows me a work of Egyptian art that decorates the room where we spoke
I asked what it was like to be a minority population in an Islamic country.  She told me that 10% of the population of Egypt is Christian with a smaller percentage being Catholic.  Although it is not true for all of the society there, great harmony exists among the sisters and Muslims in the areas where they reside.  50% of the students at their school in Minya (not sure I am spelling that correctly) are Islamic.  The sisters are very much appreciated for their work in the schools and in social work. 

I asked Sr. Myriam what she could tell our US sisters about their community life in Egypt.  She said, "We live in small communities of four or five.  For us, our spiritual life is very important.  In Egypt Christians are very fervent. It is an older church.  Our proximity with Islam helps us to be more rooted in Christianity."

I hope you enjoy this brief portrait of Myriam.  I was deeply touched to have the opportunity to meet with her.

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