Jerusalem sessions – update

Jerusalem sessions

SESSIONS / RETREATS (10 March – 06 June 2020, in English and 08 September – 03 December 2020, in French) at St Anne’s in Jerusalem:

Due to the Coronavirus epidemic, and following the directives of the Israeli Ministry of Health, the board of direction has decided to cancel these sessions. We deeply regret but hope that you understand our decision.

For the dates of the forthcoming sessions, follow this link.

Profile of Marc Deneckere

Profile of Marc Deneckere

Marc was born in Kortrijk on 16 January 1932 into a very Christian and religious family. The father ran a wholesale coal business. The family had eleven children. Marc studied the Greco-Latin humanities at Saint-Amand College in his hometown. In September 1952, he entered the White Fathers in Boechout, where his younger brother and godson Jo followed him a few years later. Marc did the novitiate in Varsenare and the theological studies in Heverlee, where he took his missionary oath on 5 July 1958 and was ordained priest on 2 February 1959 by Mgr Geeraerts. From the very beginning of his formation, Marc was noted for his great goodness, his golden heart (with the danger of allowing himself to be exploited). He was always in a good mood, always happy, helpful, very devoted to manual work. He was a pleasant confrere, very simple in his relationships, rather taciturn, a little shy. “Will be at ease in the bush and in a mission with a lot of physical effort”…

After six months of classes at the University of Louvain as part of his military service, Marc left on 5 April 1960 for Ituri in North-Eastern Congo, three months before independence. During the first months in the diocese of Bunia, he learned the Kilendu language in Pimbo and Fataki. He was then appointed vicar in Jiba. In 1964, he found himself in the midst of the great insurrection of the Simbas. “Together with many fathers and sisters, we were locked up for a whole month in a school and convent of the Sisters of Ingelmunster.” Until they were released and evacuated by paracommandos. He will never forget it. At the beginning of July 1965, he returned to his post at Jiba, where he built the convent of the sisters. From 1970, according to his own account, he was successively parish priest in three parishes, each time by chance for ten years, before handing over the helm to the diocesan clergy. These were Fataki, Pimbo and Drodro, with some replacements in other parishes from time to time. Mark lived these transmissions with mixed feelings: sadness at having to leave those he loved so much and joy for the mission accomplished. In 1985, he had to be treated for throat problems, fortunately not as serious as had been feared. His last appointment to Drodro did not enthuse him, but he wrote to the provincial of Belgium: “I am convinced that here in Drodro too I will be a happy missionary… God is my shield!”.

After Drodro, Marc was sent to Badiya because the White Fathers passed on the whole Lendu region to the local clergy. The problemwas that the language was no longer Kilendu but Swahili. A hard test at his age, but the result was positive. In 1994 he took part, in Rome, in the session “transition to the third age”. In April 1995, mother Deneckere died at the age of 92. During the invasion of Kabila-father, who was helped by the Rwandans to overthrow Mobutu, Marc was once again evacuated via Kampala in December 1996. He then worked for several months as a bursar of the “Blauwe Torre” project in Varsenare and took part in the activities of the Centre. He got to know several parishes and often went to give his testimony in missionary circles. In October 1998 he returned to Bunia, where he was in charge of the reception at the regional house and of the bursar’s office in the region. On occasion he gave a helping hand to the parish. The misery in the city was great and his heart could not resist the many poor people who came knocking at the door… Until the day when, in February 2003, he was expelled from the country by the leader of the rebels, Thomas Lubanga, who at that time was holding the sceptre in Bunia. Marc was wondering: “Why was I kicked out? I had just demonstrated a little too much that as a missionary I made no distinction between ethnic groups when it came to helping people. I had indeed provided safe lodgings for fleeing Lendu families whose homes had been burned by hema (people opposed to the Lendu). For this Hema militia leader, it was an act of betrayal. So I had to leave”. In the “procès verbal de reculement” we read the following charges: “He was involved in clandestine activities of a subversive nature, in particular : 1. clandestine accommodation of the displaced persons with the intention of splashing the Movement with regard to the security of persons and freedom of movement in the Territory under the control of the U.P.C./R.P. (Union of Congolese Patriots for Reconciliation and Peace, the main Hema militia of Thomas Lubanga) ; 2. To be in intelligence with the negative forces that hindered the process of Pacification and Reconciliation. Of all the above, we have declared the above mentioned PERSONA NON GRATA over the whole area controlled by the U.P.C./R.P.”. Father Jean Mottoul received the same letter a few days later. The direct and courageous intervention of Fr. Jan Mol, regional, did not change anything. Radio and television attacked the White Fathers and Marc in particular. His brother Jo was also falsely accused. It was clear that the missionaries were embarrassing witnesses to the many injustices. They were preferred to be sent away. Hundreds of White Fathers worked in Ituri. And it was precisely Marc, perhaps the one most loved by the little people among all these White Fathers, who had to take his leave in this way? “Blessed are the meek!”…

In Belgium, once he had recovered from his emotions, Marc spent a few months as bursar in our community in Bruges. In October 2004, he was called upon for the important bursar’s office at the Keizerstraat in Antwerp. Always ready to help and to find a good solution for everyone’s problems, he was supported and appreciated by both the confreres and the staff. In 2009 he celebrated his golden jubilee in St. Elizabeth’s Church in Kortrijk, surrounded by many family members and acquaintances. On this occasion he wrote in the parish newspaper ‘Kerk&Leven’: “As a missionary I have been sent by Christ and the Church to bring a message of peace, reconciliation and joy to people. After 50 years of priestly and missionary life, I have the joy of testifying before you that I am a grateful and happy missionary. Grateful to the Lord for my vocation. Grateful to my family and fellow citizens for their sympathy and support. Grateful to the people of the Diocese of Bunia, because they have given me the opportunity to proclaim and live in their midst God’s love for us. And all this makes me a deeply happy man”. In 2013 Marc truly retired and joined the community of Varsenare, where more and more profound peace and contentment emanated from him. He passed away slowly, on the evening of August 10th, sitting in his armchair in front of his television .

Corona regulations not allowing for exceptions, only ten members of his family and some confreres of his brother Jo’s community will be able to attend the funeral on Friday 14, at 10.30 a.m. in Varsenare. The family is planning to organise a commemoration later in Kortrijk.

Jef Vleugels

  • “SEASON OF CREATION” is also part of the special programme for the “LAUDATO SI year 2020/21” launched to commemorate the 5th anniversary of the encyclical letter “LAUDATO SI”:

There are so many opportunities to engage together where we are, where we live, work and pray.

Let us celebrate together the SEASON OF CREATION in 2020 !

Mgr Antoon Grauls on KTOtv

Mgr Antoon Grauls on KTOtv

The full movie on Monseigneur Antoon Grauls, founder of the Bene-Yozefu brothers in Burundi, will be shown on the French Catholic TV Station KTO on Monday the 1st June at 20.40 (8:40 pm), or directly on Please consult the website to know about possible replays. Note that the movie is in French only.

The Congregation of the Bene-Yozefu brothers of Burundi presented for the first time a film made on the occasion of their 75th anniversary, in the Lavigerie Hall of the Missionaries of Africa in Rome, on 29/09/2019. This film is about the congregation of the Bene-Yozefu brothers and more particularly about its Founder Antoine Hubert Grauls.

Indeed, in this film, we highlight the characteristic features of Bishop Antoine Hubert Grauls, his intelligence and his apostolic zeal. He was truly an apostle who listened, consulted and welcomed; an apostle who was always close to the Burundian people to whom he had been sent.

Bishop Antoine Hubert Grauls is known as Father of the Church of Burundi, an apostle who worked body and soul so that this Church could grow and consolidate itself. He was an extraordinary person, his motto “Everything in a charity without feint” was well lived. He undoubtedly confirmed that in Burundi, there were no pagans but rather non-baptized people. He collaborated with both the poorest and the richest. He healed both hearts and bodies. He founded hospitals, printing plants and cooperatives for the development of the region. He was truly a gift to the Christians during the 30 years he lived in Burundi.

He made a quality leap on the issue of education so that Burundi would have its own schools, according to him, “the issue of schools is for all causes that want to last a matter of life and death”. He gave a great boost to primary schools, particularly through the foundation of the Bene-Yozefu Brothers Congregation, which is a huge success for Burundi, given their contribution to human and social development in the country.

In short, Bishop Antoine Hubert Grauls is one of the country’s great builders, a great promoter of the Burundian intellectual elite, thanks to the national unity he has beaten, the Burundians will always be grateful to him.

Frère Innocent Manirakiza, Bene-Yozefu

(Brother Innocent resides with the Missionaries of Africa in Rome during his studies in the educational sciences)

Below is an excerpt from this very beautiful film directed by Armand Isnard of KTO. The DVD containing the entire 52-minute film (in French) is available at the Generalate of the Missionaries of Africa for a contribution towards the production costs or from the Bene-Yozefu Brothers in Burundi.

Africa Day is a celebration of resilience

Mamphela Ramphele: Africa Day is a celebration of resilience

At the end of the 1980s, the major film production “Cry of Freedom” told the story of the ideological conversion of South African journalist Donald Woods by anti-apartheid activist Steve Biko. You may remember Steve Biko’s political partner and wife, Dr. Mamphela Ramphele. Now 72 years old, Mamphela gives the South African news agency “Eyewitness News” her views on Africa’s potential to emerge from the crisis caused by COVID-19 stronger and more resilient. I reproduce here the article, the original English version of which can be found here:

On this Africa Day 2020, we celebrate our resilience in the face of the disruptive COVID-19 pandemic. Our resilience stems largely from our youthful population and the continuing embrace of values of Ubuntu that enable interdependence, interconnectedness and mutual support that is critical to mitigating the devastation of this virus.

COVID-19 has enabled us to demonstrate our ability to shift from our tendency to be pre-occupied with the pursuit of personal success to rally together with empathy and compassion to collaborate in response to this existential crisis. This change in behaviour towards what really matters for humanity and ecosystem survival is a critical success factor in our response to COVID-19.

The key question we need to put to ourselves as the people of Africa is what do we need to do differently at a fundamental level to enable us to emerge from this emergency wiser, stronger, and more resilient? What we do know is that this virus has changed the world as we know it, for good. There is no going back to “normal”. Successful regions, countries and communities will be those that seize this moment as an opportunity for fundamental transformation towards more resilient socio-economic and political systems.

Resilience is essential to the future that lies ahead of us, given the multi-layered crises we are likely to continue to face. The high human footprint on our planetary system has led to the fragility on most ecosystems and threats to biodiversity that sustains our lives.

Africa needs to take this crisis as an opportunity to reimagine itself as a place that birthed humanity, those many aeons ago, into one that now needs to birth a new human civilisation characterised by prosperity and well being of all people and our planet. This reimagined Africa needs to set itself new goals and measures reflecting what would matter most in such a new civilisation.

David Korten of Stanford Business School and member of the Club of Rome, in a recently published article as part of Re-articulation of Human Development Project of the UNDP, challenged the notion that humanity’s progress can adequately be measured by the economic goal of growing GDP. He concludes that: “The human future depends on making cultural and institutional choices that align with our needs as living beings, make life, not money, the defining value, and actualise the potential of our human nature and democratic aspirations. These choices frame an emerging vision of a new and truly civilised civilisation of peace, justice, material sufficiency, and spiritual and creative abundance for all.”

The vision of this new “truly civilised civilisation” resonates with the social framework guided by Ubuntu values that most of my generation were brought up to embrace. We grew up in communities in which material sufficiency, spiritual and creative abundance for all was ensured through seamless collaborative approaches to common challenges and inter-dependence enacted in both good and bad times.

Poor households did not suffer the indignity of humiliating deprivation of basic needs. Abundance for all was secured through the Letsema/iLima processes that ensured that poor people’s fields were ploughed in return for working alongside their neighbours. Milk was available to their children in return for helping out with the milking of cows in well-off households. Education and training opportunities were accessible to all children in community owned local primary schools, and the better off members contributed to the establishment of bursaries for secondary and higher education, to secure a better future for all.

President Ramaphosa needs to look no further than to leverage our rich heritage of Ubuntu to create an inclusive new economy characterised by peace, justice, material sufficiency and spiritual and creative abundance for all. We need to have inter-generational conversations to enable my generation to share the richness of our heritage of cultural values with the younger people. We need to discharge our responsibilities to the next generation: re se ke raya le ditaola badimong – we dare not go to join our ancestors before we impart this knowledge. We need to leverage this heritage that has been undervalued and marginalised to create a new economy that promotes well being for all people and protects and promotes our environment – the source of all life.

Africa is well placed to “build back” better by leapfrogging the high human footprint low human development outcomes that most industrialised countries are struggling to emerge from. We have an abundance of land, sun, wind, and rivers to power up an ecologically sound development process for the 21st century. We also have a huge contingent (estimated at close to 200 million) of highly trained Africans in the diaspora to team up with the large youthful population to help with a historic reconstruction and development of Africa into a place of well being for all people and the ecosystem.

Mamphela Ramphele is the co-founder of ReimagineSA and co-president of the Club of Rome

5th Islamic-Christian Marian Day (OLA Algiers)

Saturday, March 28, 2020 

5th Marian Christian-Muslim Day
MARY: Words of women; bearers of values

9:30 am: Welcome at the Basilica and craft market.
10:00 am: ROUND TABLE:

Mrs. Anna Medeossi and Mrs. Amel Oudine:
Presentation of the Sanctuary of Santa Cruz, Oran.

Mrs. Karima Berger:
My experience in writing the book “You, my foreign sister”.

Mrs. Fayrouz Bibi:
Towards the promotion of a culture of dialogue and tolerance in Algeria.

Mrs. Michel Chachatti and Mr. Naguib Shallal:
Kiara Lubeck and “Mary’s Work” in Algeria.

Mrs. Asma Nouira (Tunisia) :
Mary, figure of encounter, in the popular Muslim faith.

Mrs. Cissé Zeinab Keita (Mali) :
The values of a virtuous woman according to Islamic-Christian marital qualities.

1:00 pm: Marian CUSCOUS
4:00 pm: CONCERT of organ, piano and singing
with Mr Christian Bacheley
and the students of the 3rd Master class.

Information and access cards:

Merry Christmas

Compliments of the Season

Live from Mar Estephan (St Stephen Cathedral) in Lebanon,
together with Marianne Alwan (Vocals) and Lucas Sakr (Piano),
we wish you a Merry Christmas Season and a Happy New Year.

Louis Blondel : ten years already

Memorial Service for Louis Blondel

Ten years ago already…. Our colleague Louis Blondel was murdered in the prebytery of Diepsloet, a township in northern Johannesburg, South Africa. Since then, a Youth Centre has been built in his memory. On Sunday a “Memorial Service” will be celebrated on site. You can follow its progress in streaming. Here’s how it works:

Desktop PC or Apple Mac
Go to
Register a free account (Sign In)
Log In with your account details
The Voice of Diepsloot is on the Main Page
Click to view

On any Tablet or Smartphone
Go to the Playstore for Android devices or App store for Apple devices
Search for Watcha Streaming
Download the free App
Install the app
Register a free account (Sign In)
Log In with your account details
The Voice of Diepsloot is on the Main Page
Click to view