Last December and January I was in Mali and participated in the farewell ceremony to our confrere Jesus Martinez at the parish of Kati, not far from Bamako. It was a very beautiful celebration and Jesus himself gave us a beautiful homily. His parish priest and the president of the parish council then offered fine words of appreciation. I thought it was a good idea not to let these fine words fall into oblivion. With the permission of these 3 people I copied what they then offered.
Martin Grenier, M.Afr.
Mission accomplished: Forgive me and thank you!
Brothers and sisters, I thank you with all my heart for coming to help me thank the Lord by celebrating this Mass of thanksgiving for the 55 years that the Lord has given me to live with you… to look at my whole life with the eyes of gratitude.
As the Wise Man says in the Bible: “There is a time to stay, there is a time to leave”…
Old age is a new stage in my life, and becoming old can be learned. It takes courage… God is the God of exodus, the God of departure; we must embark on new paths, and whatever happens, “everything is grace”… What matters in life is not where you are, but where you are going, with whom you are going in that direction and for what. The mission is not ours, it is entrusted to us for a time only; our first work is to pray. “He who relies on God will not remain empty-handed. Coming into the world is not difficult, but crossing it…. Let us ask for the grace to be able to confide in Him.
I would like to share with you a few words about what has marked my life with you. First of all, I apologize, because I could have worked more and better. I didn’t thank God enough for the life he gave me. I didn’t like enough those who were by my side. The two words of thanks: Thank you above all to God who led me by his hand. Thank you to the Cardinal, all my gratitude, Bishop, gratitude to my family, my brothers in the priesthood…. I would like my departure to be joyful, because joy is a sign of the Kingdom, and if the departure is sad, it is not evangelical.
I felt very loved by you and I too tried to respond to that love. The best thing I have ever had in my life, it was Mali that gave it to me and in turn, I can say that I too have given Mali the best of myself… My missionary life has had two priorities: vocations (of priests, religious, catechists and lay people) and social pastoral care. What gave me strength and courage was the Gospel passage: “I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty… “Together, we have built many wells, schools, dams, mills, some churches, radios.
We are missionaries wherever we are… even if it takes courage to commit ourselves to new ways of life… There is a Providence. The best is yet to come, we must open our arms and welcome the future, keep the smile as a reflection of the smile that God continually has on us.
I would have liked to stay with you and continue to baptize our children, to continue to live with you, but when the superiors decide, obedience is essential. The spirituality of our time is a Holy Saturday spirituality; on the one hand confusion, discouragement, helplessness and on the other hand faith in darkness and the power of hope, perseverance. Old age is for the brave… It is to become a child again who lets himself be led by God… to adapt to God’s program and leave ours. Even if my heart is bleeding, I think that with you and thanks to you I can say “Mission accomplished”, Pardon and Thank you! May God give us to love what he loves. That we always accept the destinies that providence has on us. May the worries of life not discourage us.
May the Lord help us to keep our lamp lit.
This is the essence of Father Jesús Martínez’s homily on the day of his “goodbye” to his family in Mali. The text has been shortened and a little edited to make it easier to read. But these are his words. (ed.)
Below are some excerpts from two testimonies given during the same thanksgiving mass on the occasion of the departure of Father Jesús Martínez.
M. Valéry Dako
Chairperson of the Kati PArish Council
A golden jubilee journey on African soil in Mali is worth a distinction to the person who has accomplished this journey. We know you’re humble, but accept it that way. Let us go back a long way, a long way back and we find your youthful years with their share of enthusiasm, zeal and hope in the actions taken for the accomplishment of the mission. When you arrived in the country, Father Martinez, you blended into the mass of bwa by taking the name of Matièrê which represents the symbolism of work… You have visited all the parishes of the current Diocese of San: the parish of Mandiakuy, Tominian, Timissa and Touba, in whose erection you have actively participated, as well as its economic and spiritual development…
Then your steps led you to the Archdiocese of Bamako with a presence in the parishes of Kolokani, Faladje and Kati which happens to be the mother parish of the diocese of Bamako. You have taken in Bamanan country the name of DOMAKONO which can be translated simply by the person who waits one day, what day? May this day be intimately linked to the will of your master whom you have cherished intensely.
We have walked together with the objective of seeking God. What a journey we have made! Today, we are at another important turning point.
There are so many routes that you have taken between the CCBs of Koko, Malibougou, Kati Centre, Missions I, II and the “Camp pour le Seigneur”. There are so many ways that you also used to reach rural communities (Kalifabougou, Neguela, Yékébougou etc…) for evangelization…
The parish of Kati, your family, has adopted you. You have evolved by working for its different segments: catechesis, human families, parish councils, choirs, women’s and youth groups, the Queen of Peace radio as a means of evangelization, etc…
Father DOMAKONO, you have… advised, coaxed, soothed, consoled, comforted various people through your pastoral and human encounters. The joy of living given to others is the one the Lord expected from you for others.
Father DOMAKONO, the Kati Parish Council warmly thanks you for all you have been given to do in the context of the harmonious building of the Family of God Church in Mali. May the Lord himself be your shepherd on the day.
THANK YOU Father DOMAKONO, We give you as a sign of gratitude a Ciwara mask with your engraved name (Father Martinez, Parish of Kati, Grateful). You also have a traditional boubou with its multi-eared cap to protect you from the elements.
Father DOMAKONO, Ala ka hèra kè kè i gnè, friend a ka hèra fon i ko.
Father DOMAKONO, Débwenou a oumanou gnou lou.
(Only God is able to provide water to termites when making their termite mounds.)
Rev. Émile Konare
Parish Priest of Kati
The way of life, the meaning that one gives to one’s life, that is what makes man’s misfortune or happiness. The wise Qohèleth tells us, and I quote: “Man works for his mouth. And yet the appetite is never satisfied. ” What then is capable of fulfilling man’s desire? Jesus, the Son of God, traces for us the path by which man has access to happiness: the path to the justice of the Kingdom. What is it about? As the first attitudes announced by Jesus, it is to be poor (or humble, or even humiliated), to be gentle (without violence?), to be afflicted, to be hungry and thirsty for justice ! If the prophets denounced those who practiced injustice, Jesus declares happy those who place the concern for justice at the centre of their lives. What is promised to us is nothing less than the joy of a filial relationship with God….
Father Martinez, you were ordained in 1962, and you have been in Mali, San and Bamako, and even one year in Mauritania, 56 years of your life, of your priestly life, to show to the Malian man, African, your fellow man, the face of our Christian faith: Jesus Christ who has only one Name: God-loving…. Father Jesús, for 55 years you have had the desire to live according to what God asks for by becoming the architect of the evolution of social works. You have helped Malian people, of all faiths, to see and recognize the face of God in their fellow human beings… through a life of concrete Love: Health Centres for the sick,… school structures to fight illiteracy, wells to give water to those who are thirsty,… You listened and considered the joys and sorrows of the Malian man who came to you in the hope of achieving a stable and dignified life. Finally, priestly vocations. Every priestly ordination is a source of pride for you. This is to say that you carry within you this desire to see young Malians consecrate themselves to God.
The realization of everything… is due to… your attitudes or, if you wish, the “beatitudes” that you have embodied and among which we can retain: patience, perseverance and humility. Blessed are the peacemakers. Man cannot become a peacemaker without embodying in himself patience, perseverance and humility, especially in a foreign land.
Father Jesús, on behalf of the entire Parish, I would like to express our deep gratitude to you for all the beautiful services rendered to the Catholic Church in Mali. Be assured of our affection, thoughts and prayers for this new life that is beginning.
It is therefore necessary to tell you that the doors of Mali are always open to you.
E nana Ala kof, Mali denq yé, Ala ka i Iakana.
(Father, you have come to announce God to the children of Mali, may God keep you and protect you).
E yé danaya kofo anw yé, Ala ka i ka dana baba.
(You have come to bring us faith, may God strengthen your faith).
E nana san biduru ani woro som, Mali jamanan konon, Ala da Mali jamanan gnèmajo.
(And you came to spend 55 years in Mali, may God grant Mali stability).
Maria Senu ka a jantoi la. | neither cé. l nor baraji.
(May the Virgin Mary protect you, thank you very much).
If you prefer to read the original texts of these interventions in French, here they are :