St Anne’s Sodality started on 4th May 1850 in Quebec, Canada by Father Honorat, of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate congregation. In Lesotho it started in 1934 and in Botswana the sodality started in 1952 at St Theresa parish in Lobatse by a group of 11 Catholic women, namely: Mme Eveline Segano, Mme Lea Makgonatsotlhe, Mme Pauline Wabogwera, Mme Magdeline Mosimanyana, Mme Rosina Mogapi, Mme Susan Lekaba, Mme Mmaboni Lekaba, Mme Tsheboeng Mothibi, Mme Cathrine Montoedi, Mme Ludo Mohamadi and Mme Kenyaditswe Sebopelo.
Who is St Anne? She is the woman in whom the great mystery of the Immaculate Conception was accomplished; the woman who had the privilege and dignity conferred by God on her in electing her to be the mother of the treasury of all graces. She is the grand-mother of our Lord Jesus Christ.
About St Anne: From her very childhood, St Anne possessed the fullness of every virtue. She was continually engaged in devout meditation. She prayed unceasingly. Her spouse, Joachim, was a prominent and respected man. God tested her severely, especially by ordaining that she would have to wait so long before she could conceive, during which time she and her spouse were innocently humiliated and despised on account of their barrenness. For years, hidden sorrow was her daily bread. In answer to their prayers, Mary was born and was dedicated to God at a very early age. St Anne was adored with angelic purity to become the mother of the Virgin of Virgins, “conceived without stain of Original Sin.” She is the great model of all in the married state. The couple became models of Christian marriage. Considering the person of Mary, it goes without saying that Joachim and Anne were two very remarkable people to have been given such a daughter and to have played so important a part in the work of the Redemption.
St Anne was very charitable and gave alms freely. She and her spouse Joachim distributed their harvest/possession into three: one third to the family; the other third to the church and the last third to the poor, hence the Motto of the Sodality - Serve the Family; Serve the Church; Serve the Community.
From very early Christian writing came several of the feast days of Mary, particularly the Immaculate Conception, the Nativity of Mary and her assumption into Heaven. Very early also came feast days in honour of Saints Joachim and Anne - their Feast is celebrated every year on 26 July
The Sodality: Members of this Sodality try to imitate St Anne by following her good deeds which embrace accolades bestowed on her as stated above, i.e. unceasing prayer, devout meditation, love for charity, comforting the sorrowing, model of Christian women and mothers. Members practice the role of grand-mothers in the church and in the community/society as they are named after the Grand-mother of Jesus Christ.
Membership: It is composed of respectable Catholic women/mothers who are trying by the grace of God to practice what they preach by being exemplary and living a prayerful life like the saint they are following. They believe that charity begins at home hence they help the aged, the sick and the poor, especially members of the sodality and priests. Members exercise compassion, mercifulness and charity among the poor, not forgetting the dying. They also respond to calls for assistance as needed by the church such as in funeral leadership, catechists, communion givers etc.
Based on the virtues of St Anne, and through her intercession, the following are included in the intentions of the Sodality:-
- Fostering and encouraging vocations to the religious life among children;
- Exemplary to Christian women, models of married women and mothers;
- Comforting the sorrowing;
- Love and care for the poor
The history of the sodality in the Diocese of Gaborone:
As mentioned at the beginning, the sodality started in 1952 at St Theresa Parish in Lobatse by a group of eleven Catholic women. It is worth noting that during the formation years of the sodality there were no committees. The first person to formerly lead the sodality was the late Bishop Boniface Setlalekgosi who led it from the early 1960s. He was the spiritual director till 1982 when he was appointed Bishop of the Diocese of Gaborone.
Since the pioneers of the sodality were eager to learn more about it, they used all opportunities available to increase their knowledge and as such they interacted with established groups in the neighbouring South Africa for bench marking. In 1995 they accepted an invitation from a group in Mafikeng where they had exposure about the operations of the sodality. This is where they learned and adopted the system of separating conferences from retreats. Up till now this is the system used in the Diocese of Gaborone – conference year is where a lot of issues concerning the sodality are discussed – the constitution; amendments and/or editions to regulations; the performance of the sodality; spiritual growth; etc; and the retreat year is strictly retreat and reflection where our primary focus is to assess and evaluate ourselves and our Sodality guided by prayer and the word of God; assisting us to have ne to one encounter with the Lord through prayer and meditation. During retreat members maintain silence throughout. Elections of new committees are conducted in the year of conference when they are due and retreat years are usually coupled with enrobing of aspiring members who have been undergoing training and now qualify to be confirmed as full members of the sodality.
The first elections were held in 1996 in Mahalapye at St Patrick’s parish and the following were elected into office:
Chairperson: Mme Bernadette Bothate; Secretary: Mme Elizabeth Aphiri; Treasurer: Mme Barbara Rinki. Later Mme Elizabeth Kgakatsi was elected Vice Chairperson, Mme Lydia Molapisi as Vice Secretary, Mme Motshwane and Mme Ramoeta as additional committee members.
Spiritual Directors since inception:
- Bishop BonifaceTshosa Setlalekgosi
- Fr Johannes Seane
- Fr Johannes Kgaodi
- Fr Tshiamo Takongwa
- Fr Joseph Koetlisi assisted by Sister Josephine Mpatane
- Fr Andrew Makgetla assisted by Sister Josephine Mpatane.
In 1998 when the Vicariate of Francistown was established the sodality also divided into two for administrative purposes (North and South) and everything the sodality had was shared equally, including money.
Chairpersons of the Umbrella Committee (Ntlokgolo) since inception
- Mme BernadetteBothate (Longest serving - 20 years);
- Mme Felicitus Sikalesele;
- Mme Josephine Rantao;
- Mme Magdeline Sethebe;
- Mme Pearl Keitumetse,
- Mme Antoinette Lechiile.
The following served in the umbrella committee (ntlokgolo) on different positions – vice chairperson, secretary, vice secretary, treasurer and additional members: Mme Beauty Modiega, Mme Nawa; Mme Motshwanele; Mme Ntseane, Mme Queen Piet, Mme V Marumo, Mme Seemule, Mme Dijeng, Mme Mannathoko, Mme Collet Tema, Mme Setshwane,, Mme Mase, Mme Mongwa, Mme Sejoe, Mme H Matsake, Mme Ntseane, Mme Jane Mohamadi, Mme Bernadette Buti, Mme Selaledi, Mme P Balopi, Mme Ethna Dabutha, Mme Priscilla Pone, Mme Motlhatlhedi, Mme Chakalisa, Mme Magosi, Mme Josephine Seane, Mme Virginia Ramaretlwa, Mme Annastacia Mosalagae, Mme Boikanyo Molemi, Mme Ruth Lobatlamang, Mme Kabelo Tumaeletse, Mme Neoyaone Ntau
The sodality has since grown and we currently exchange visitations with our sisters at the following:
- Archdiocese of Lusaka, Zambia;
- Archdiocese of Maseru, Lesotho; and
- Diocese of Francistown, Botswana.