2021 – New life at the Generalate

2021 - New life at the Generalate

Happy New Year to all. As you probably know it already, the end of 2020 means as well the end of a spiritual – but not only – friendship between the Missionaries of Africa in the Generalate and the Sisters of the Work, for not less than 55 years. On the 27th December, the present community of the  Generalate, on the behalf of all the generations of White Fathers who worked in, studied  in or passed through the Generalate during the last half century, bid them farewell during a festive meal. Here are the discourses given both by the Superior general, Father Stan Lubungo, and by Sister Christine Felder, FSO.

Farewell to the Sisters of Piccola Casa

Stanley Lubungo, M.Afr.

Dear Sisters

It feels rather sad to have to stand here today to bid you farewell, especially in the particular context of Covid-19. But it is an honour for me to do it in the name of generations of Missionaries of Africa who have lived and passed at our Generalate in the past fifty five years! You have been an inspirational presence, I think I can take the risk of saying, to all of us. You are part of the history of our house and it is difficult to think that in a few weeks you will no longer be at the Piccola Casa. That presence will be immensely missed.

Today we thank God for the marvels he has done for us and for the relations that have grown between our two Spiritual families. I have already had the opportunity to say that your presence at our Generalate has been, for many Missionaries of Africa and for our many visitors, a real testimony of service done with a love and joy deeply rooted in faith and motivated by Gospel values. We have always, through your prayers and the countless reminders of spiritual quotes from our Founder Cardinal Lavigerie and very discreetly from Mother Julia, felt your support in the mission entrusted to our Society.

Dear Sisters, we will miss you at the Generalate, remember us always in your prayers, as we will also pray for you. It is my hope that we will continue to nurture the brotherhood that we have developed in the past years so that together we can continue being witnesses of those values that have made it possible to work together for so many years. You will always be welcome to the Generalate.

Sr. Christine Felder FSO

Dear Fr. Stan, dear Fathers, dear Brother Anthony!

Mother Margret asked me to convey her regards to all of you on this special occasion. Unfortunately, she can’t be here but had the possibility to greet some of you a month ago, when she spent some time with us in Rome.

On different occasions we had the possibility to remember our history and our collaboration of 55 years together with your Society. So, I decided not to do so today, although our hearts are full of memories and this talk would go on if we would try to share all the significant moments in the past here today.

Let me share just one particular event with you. From 1975 till 1979 our Sisters worked at the Benedictine Monastery of S. Paolo fuori le Mura. Mother Julia loved that place, as our patron Saint, St. Paul, is buried there.  She spent a lot of time in St. Paul’s and received inner insights. One would think that she would hold on to that mission at any cost because of the significance of the place for our Charism. But seeing the various developments she decided to end that service. When she and the Sisters left St. Pauls, she said: Who does not weep now, has never lived here.

We see how much Mother Julia loved that place and leaving it was hard on her. But a certain inner freedom helped her to move forward in order to fulfil the proper mission, as she could understand it in that particular moment. I think also your founder, Card. Lavigerie, had this inner freedom to open new houses, to accept new missions but at the same time to close houses, to leave the mission to others … to move forward! Duc in altum.

Well, what can we say today, after 55 years of presence, after 55 years of blessings, after 55 years of service: “Who does not weep now, has never lived here.” Departure is hard, when you loved a place, and we did!  when you invested your energy in a mission, and we did, and when friendship and benevolence united you with a lot of people, which was our case with you Fathers! But with the inner freedom of our founders, we move on happily and take with us a heart full of gratitude, happy memories and many enriching experiences for the future.

Fr. Stan, as Superior General, please, accept our gratitude towards the whole Society as well as our thanks for your personal friendship and support. We thank the General Council and Fr. Guy Theunis for making easy – as much as possible – the transition and the moving out of the Piccola Casa.

And I can’t help but say a word in Italian, a word of thanks to Father Italo, our point of reference, our ally in the little battles of daily life, the missionary who was always there for us, who despite all the hardships, knew how to defuse some tensions with his humour. Fr Italo, we are leaving together, we wish you all the best for your future.

I would like to conclude with a word of Mother Julia which could be fitting for both of us: for you remaining here, but also being put in front of a new situation at the Casa Generalizia, as for us, leaving Via Aurelia and moving on to new challenges:

“Here, now and today:

    • let us be pioneers and trailblazers
    • serving one another according to God’s guidance,
    • ready to take on new tasks,
    • accept,
    • pass on,
    • commit,
    • let go
    • and leave behind.”

May HIS kingdom come and may the Lord bless our two Communities. Thank you.

News from Ethiopia

Dear confreres, Relatives and FriendsGreetings of Joy and Peace from Addis Abeba. I hope you celebrated well Christmas. As for us we will celebrate it on 7th January.I am coming to you this morning with  GOOD NEWS !At last i got news from our confreres in Adigrat  ( Gerry Murphy, Jose Bandres, Belete Fanta, Clayb Caputolan, Olivier Ndayikengurukiye, Sabu Punthepurackal, Paul Reilly and our 5 students). They are all fine.Paul Reilly managed to reach a place where he got the Network and called me to inform me about this.Now Paul Reilly , Belete and the 5 students with some sisters are trying to see how they can come to Kombolcha community. They are 9 people and they started the journey this morning.So we thank God for his protection and we also thank you for your prayers.
PS : Would you help me to transmit this message to those who need this information
Bonaventure BWANAKWERIEPO Delegate superior


Communication in the age of COVID-19

Communication in the age of COVID-19

Here is the Word of the Webmaster, which will appear at the beginning of the Book of Personnel 2021. I publish it here so that you may take action after reading it. 

The year 2020 will have been an unforgettable year for many of us, especially because of COVID-19 which confined us here and there, preventing us from going about our usual business (for our pleasure, but also for our work). For while it is, of course, pleasant to leave our home for a meeting, a council, a workshop … confinement has also forced us to familiarise ourselves with virtual communication tools which have the advantages of reducing expenses, saving time, and reducing our ecological footprint … even if the discussions remain open. In any case, technological tools will never replace the desire to communicate well. In about fifteen months, if all goes well, the Chapter will meet in Rome. I dare to hope that Communication will have an important place there, in the discussions, but also in the way the debates will be conducted. If you are not yet accustomed to paperless communication techniques – to save the trees, of course – it is time to get started. In the 2016 Chapter, email was still being used extensively. But the tools are diversifying and more and more confreres are using WhatsApp, Facebook, Messenger, and so on. I would like to be able to facilitate all types of communication by putting on-line, on the international website, the addresses of all the confreres, a page obviously protected from outside scrutiny. 

I invite all of you to submit on-line a short update of your data, either by filling in the questionnaire at

http://tiny.cc/communication-details

or by scanning the QR CODE on the left side, which will allow you to answer the questionnaire directly on your mobile phone.

Thank you in advance.

Nuntiuncula (Belgian Newsletter) n° 719

Nuntiuncula (Belgian Newsletter) n° 719

This is probably a historical moment. After being published 718 times on paper, the sector of Belgium (PEP) decided that their newsletter  – “Nuntiuncula” – would, from now on, be published online only. Congratulations for a courageous decision. Sorry, no time to translate anything, but it is very easy to get a rough translation online these days.

PGF Jérusalem

News from the Small Formation Group in Jerusalem

Isaac Kinda, student in SGF Jerusalem

“You are the salt of the earth and the light of the world.” (Mt5:13-16). It was in the light of these words of Christ that Calvin and Trésor made a final commitment to the Society of the Missionaries of Africa. The ceremony took place on November 28th in the rather unusual context of covid-19 restrictions. Mass was presided over in the Basilica of Saint Anne by the Apostolic Nuncio of Jerusalem. Given the situation we live in, the number of guests for the celebration was limited. We were about 30 people only. But this did not affect the quality of the celebration.

There were two distinct moments that marked the Eucharistic celebration. The first is the Missionary Oath. Calvin and Trésor solemnly promised, before God and the congregation, to live the demands of the evangelical counsels, namely, poverty, obedience and celibacy. The words they pronounced were words that came from deep down in their hearts, testifying to their desire to follow Christ and to participate in His saving mission which is to proclaim the gospel to all. They did so in the presence of Joe, the representative of the Superior General.

The new confreres were joyfully congratulated by their elders. The gesture of love that each of the confreres made to the new members already showed that they are ready to live with them in love and solidarity for the mission of Christ.

Then came the time to listen to the liturgical texts chosen by the confreres themselves for the occasion.

The first reading, taken from the book of the Prophet Isaiah (Is 61:1-3), invited all of us (in particular the confreres who have received a mandate from Christ), “to bring the gospel to the poor, to heal wounded hearts, to proclaim freedom to the captives and deliverance to the prisoners.” In the second reading, Saint Paul said to his son Timothy (2Tim 1:6-14), “I invite you to revive the spiritual gift that God has put in you by the laying on of my hands.” And he continues, “Take as your standard the holy words which you have heard from me in the faith and love of Christ Jesus. ‘These words also invite the confreres to also place the Word of God at the heart of their lives. In the Gospel of Saint Matthew (Mt 5:13-16), Jesus himself invited us to be salt of the earth and the light of the world.

In his homily, the main celebrant invited the two confreres to live out the ministry of the diaconate to the full through the proclamation of the Word of God in a life of service. He reminded them that the deacon has two main functions: the service of the Mysteries of Christ and the service of men and women. These two dimensions of service are at the heart of the deacon’s life. Likewise, he also reminded the elect of the day, the origin and purpose of the ministry of the diaconate, instituted after a complaint by the widows of the Greeks, who saw themselves forgotten in the distribution of goods. Deacons were chosen to take special care of them, so that the apostles could mainly proclaim the Word of God. Therefore, like Jesus, Calvin and Trésor are called to serve others, not to be served. The Word of God must be proclaimed without compromise and without fear.

The second moment was devoted to the ordination of the two confreres. After having received the permission of the Rector, the Nuncio proceeded with the ordination. And it was with reverence that the assembly implored the mercy of God, and prayed over the confreres to the Saints to intercede for the confreres. By laying his hands on them, the bishop established them as servants of the Word and of the people of God. They are to assist the bishop or priest at the altar. They may preside over certain sacraments of the Church. They are also invited to live what they preach and preach what they live.

At the end of Mass, successively, one of the elect of the day and the Rector addressed a word of thanks to all those who had come and in particular to the Apostolic Nuncio for having accepted to ordain the fellow deacons. We wish them a good ministry. After the Eucharistic celebration, all were invited to share a fraternal meal with the new confreres and the whole community.

World Day of the Poor

4th World Day of the Poor - 15th November 2020

Excerpt of the MESSAGE OF POPE FRANCIS: 
“Stretch forth your hand to the poor” (Sir 7:32)

… Prayer to God and solidarity with the poor and suffering are inseparable… Time devoted to prayer can never become an alibi for neglecting our neighbour in need. In fact the very opposite is true: the Lord’s blessing descends upon us and prayer attains its goal when accompanied by service to the poor.

Encountering the poor and those in need constantly challenges us and forces us to think. How can we help to eliminate or at least alleviate their marginalization and suffering? How can we help them in their spiritual need? …The silent cry of so many poor men, women and children should find the people of God at the forefront, always and everywhere, in efforts to give them a voice, to protect and support them in the face of hypocrisy and so many unfulfilled promises, and to invite them to share in the life of the community.

… Sadly, it is more and more the case that the frenetic pace of life sucks us into a whirlwind of indifference, to the point that we no longer know how to recognize the good silently being done each day and with great generosity all around us…. To be sure, malice and violence, abuse and corruption abound, but life is interwoven too with acts of respect and generosity that not only compensate for evil, but inspire us to take an extra step and fill our hearts with hope.

A hand held out is a sign; a sign that immediately speaks of closeness, solidarity and love. In these months, when the whole world was prey to a virus that brought pain and death, despair and bewilderment, how many outstretched hands have we seen! The outstretched hands of physicians who cared about each patient and tried to find the right cure. The outstretched hands of nurses who worked overtime, for hours on end, to look after the sick. The outstretched hands of administrators who procured the means to save as many lives as possible. The outstretched hands of pharmacists who at personal risk responded to people’s pressing needs. The outstretched hands of priests whose hearts broke as they offered a blessing. The outstretched hands of volunteers who helped people living on the streets and those with a home yet nothing to eat. The outstretched hands of men and women who worked to provide essential services and security. We could continue to speak of so many other outstretched hands, all of which make up a great litany of good works. Those hands defied contagion and fear in order to offer support and consolation.

… The present experience has challenged many of our assumptions. We feel poorer and less self-sufficient because we have come to sense our limitations and the restriction of our freedom. The loss of employment, and of opportunities to be close to our loved ones and our regular acquaintances, suddenly opened our eyes to horizons that we had long since taken for granted. Our spiritual and material resources were called into question and we found ourselves experiencing fear. In the silence of our homes, we rediscovered the importance of simplicity and of keeping our eyes fixed on the essentials. We came to realize how much we need a new sense of fraternity, for mutual help and esteem. Now is a good time to recover “the conviction that we need one another, that we have a shared responsibility for others and the world… We have had enough of immorality and the mockery of ethics, goodness, faith and honesty… When the foundations of social life are corroded, what ensues are battles over conflicting interests, new forms of violence and brutality, and obstacles to the growth of a genuine culture of care for the environment” (Laudato Si’, 229). In a word, until we revive our sense of responsibility for our neighbour and for every person, grave economic, financial and political crises will continue.

This year’s theme – “Stretch forth your hand to the poor” – is thus a summons to responsibility and commitment as men and women who are part of our one human family. It encourages us to bear the burdens of the weakest, in accord with the words of Saint Paul: “Through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself’… Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ” (Gal 5:13-14; 6:2). The Apostle teaches that the freedom bestowed through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ makes us individually responsible for serving others, especially the weakest. This is not an option, but rather a sign of the authenticity of the faith we profess.

… Almost without being aware of it, we end up being incapable of feeling compassion at the outcry of the poor, weeping for other people’s pain, and feeling a need to help them, as though all this were someone else’s responsibility and not our own” (Evangelii Gaudium, 54). We cannot be happy until these hands that sow death are transformed into instruments of justice and peace for the whole world.

… Even a smile that we can share with the poor is a source of love and a way of spreading love. An outstretched hand, then, can always be enriched by the smile of those who quietly and unassumingly offer to help, inspired only by the joy of living as one of Christ’s disciples.

In this journey of daily encounter with the poor, the Mother of God is ever at our side. More than any other, she is the Mother of the Poor… May our prayer to Mary, Mother of the Poor, unite these, her beloved children, with all those who serve them in Christ’s name. And may that prayer enable outstretched hands to become an embrace of shared and rediscovered fraternity.

If you want to read the whole message, please consult the following website:

http://www.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/messages/poveri/documents/papa-francesco_20200613_messaggio-iv-giornatamondiale-poveri-2020.html

Universal Prayers for the World Day of the Poor

Website on hold

I have been in Belgium for the last 4 months to investigate a complication of a hip operation. After a terrible night of pain, I will probably be hospitalised today. The website will therefore be interrupted for a while.

Philippe

Various News from the Generalate

Various News from the Generalate

At the end of last week we had the introductory session to the pastoral or academic year.
The theme of the session as formulated by Anthony Baaladong was :
 
 “Financing the Mission of our Society – Current Challenges”
 
There were 3 Powerpoint presentations (with a questionnaire to be discussed at the end):
 
    1. The role of our families in financing the apostolate
    2. A Simple Lifestyle – Financial Accountability and Transparency
    3. Solidarity at 4 levels :
      1. at Community level, it is the Community Fund ;
      2. at the provincial level, it is the Mutual Aid Fund (Fonds d’entraide) ;
      3. at the interprovincial level, it is the EVAF
      4. and for missionary works in Africa, it is the Solidarity Fund.

Address by Father Stan Lubungo at the end of the opening session

As we begin this new year…

Thank you to Tony and Marcin for facilitating the session which marks the opening of the pastoral-academic year for our community of the Generalate. Thank you particularly for the rich presentations that challenge us all. We are privileged to live in a community that easily provides us with what we need in our various services. We often do not lack means. Last March, I toured the Sahel and met confreres who work in climatic and socio-political conditions that none of us ignore. Thinking of all those confreres would help us enormously to adjust our lifestyle.

I would like to take the opportunity as we begin this year to thank each and every one of you on behalf of the General Council for the various services you generously render to the Society. For five months, eighty percent of the General Council had been away from Rome and the Generalate hasn’t collapsed! A sincere thank you to each and every one.

At the beginning of this pastoral and academic year, it would be good for each one of us to remember our mission, to think of the reason why we are here, that is to say, of the different tasks each of us is called to accomplish and to commit ourselves to observe the discipline it takes in terms of respect for working hours and other aspects to accomplish them. In this sense, it also seems important to me that we learn to respect and to help each other in creating an atmosphere that helps everyone to accomplish the mission entrusted to them. In its message of 3 September 2020, to all the confreres, the General Council invited us to “live our missionary commitment with a greater sense of initiative, creativity and passion”. It is an invitation we must make our own and undertake our services with greater commitment and zeal.

This year there will be changes in the House: the Sisters of the Work will leave us at the end of the year after 55 years of service at the Generalate. We are grateful for their services rendered with love and joy. We will, in due time, say goodbye to them. To replace them, we have opted to do what many congregations do nowadays, to work with a catering service with which we will establish a contract. This will call for certain adjustments and for the collaboration of everyone.

The beginning of a new year is an opportunity to revisit our community project. Our community has one. It would be good that we take time to look at it again and above all that we commit ourselves more with the means that allow us to build a real community life. I believe that, for us, the building of a real community life is above all to be founded on common prayer and on other get-together moments.

I wish everyone a fruitful new pastoral and academic year. May God our Father grant us the necessary graces to live it in peace and joy with good health so that we may bear fruit and that our fruit last to advance the Reign of God in Africa, in the African world and in the whole world.

Stanley Lubungo, Superior General
Generalate, 26 September 2020