Ha-Jo, Dominic and Paul  17/1/24

Bearing witness to Christ whatever the cost!

Ha-Jo, Dominic and Paul

Témoigner du Christ

It was not God’s will that Joseph should be sold by his brothers, nor was it God’s will that the three confreres should be abducted, but God can use such events for his loving plan for the world. Who knows if I was not more useful in captivity than physically present!

This 17th January 2024 was an unprecedented day at the Generalate and for the whole Society of Missionaries of Africa with the testimonies of our stagiaire Dominic Merikiori Mahinini and our confreres Hans-Joachim Lohre (Ha-Jo) and Paul Sanogo. This took place during a conference of thanksgiving and testimony, both face-to-face and online. It was followed by members of our two institutes (Missionaries of Africa and Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Africa). On Zoom there were more than 215 connections, without taking into account those who were connected not as a single person but as a community. Meanwhile, the Chapter Hall was fully packed; Ha-Jo, who is visiting Rome, brought together the confreres and sisters who are present in Rome. Paul and Dominic gave their testimonies online from Mali and Tanzania respectively. The Superior General, Stanley Lubungo, who sat next to Ha-Jo, moderated the conference with great emotion. Dominic and Paul were kidnapped in Nigeria for 21 days from 2nd to 22nd August 2023. Ha-Jo was abducted in Mali from 20th November 2022 to 26th November 2023, a total of 371 days.

In their testimonies, Dominic and Paul spoke of the torture they endured, starting in their community house from which they were captured and continuing throughout their captivity in the forest. Prayer was their only support, and this strengthened their faith. During this conference, they reiterated their gratitude for the prayers that accompanied them from all over the world. They are grateful for the care and support they received after such an experience.

Ha-Jo joined his younger brothers by opening his testimony with thanksgiving. The word thank you would sum up his sharing. Thank you for the daily fervent prayers and spiritual support: “I have never felt abandoned, I have never been afraid and I know that I do not owe that to my little faith, but it is thanks to you, thanks to your prayers that the Lord has converted into consolation for me”.

Ha-Jo described his time in captivity, from the abduction to his release, in several stages, starting with a 5-week stay in the Sahel bush, a stay in the desert in the sands, then another stay in the stones, thorns and wadis. Throughout the period of his abduction, Ha-Jo was not tortured. However, he felt dependent and stripped of everything except his faith in Jesus Christ. So he gave a sense of spiritual retreat to his rapture in the desert. Ha-Jo affirms that the fact that he was released after a year is proof that prayers serve a purpose. He was abducted on Christ the King Sunday in 2022 and was released on Christ the King Sunday 2023, which coincided with the anniversary of Cardinal Lavigerie’s death, Founder’s Day.

Ha-Jo confessed that the story of Joseph, son of Jacob in the book of Genesis, accompanied him throughout his captivity. His explanation would also apply to Dominic and Paul: it was not God’s will that Joseph should be sold by his brothers, nor was it God’s will that the three confreres should be abducted, but God can use such events for his loving plan for the world. So Ha-Jo asks himself: who knows if I was not more useful for inter-religious dialogue in captivity than physically present in Bamako?

Each testimony ended with a round of applause. It was such a moving conference that the Superior General concluded by inviting everyone to observe a moment of silence to interiorise the missionary exhortations heard.

Serge Zihalirwa Boroto

World Mission Day 2023

HEARTS ON FIRE, FEET ON THE MOVE

Photo credit: MAFA collection, Publisher : Éditions d’Emmanuel

Today we celebrate the 97th World Mission Day. It is the day when the Church throughout the world encourages its faithful to become more involved in the Church’s missionary activity through prayer and material support for missionaries. It is also an occasion to open ourselves up even more so that we are ready to live our Christian vocation, to contribute to the establishment of the Kingdom of God wherever the Lord sends us as missionaries. Pope Francis in his message, invites us to “renew our zeal for evangelization in today’s world”. There are places in our world where Christ is not yet known or has already been forgotten, and yet He alone “is the living Word, who can enflame, enlighten and transform the heart”, as the Pope reminds us.

On this day, we want to express our gratitude to all the individuals who have been supporting us in our missionary work in Africa through their prayers and material contributions, so that through our missionary charism, we can witness to the Good News in the African world. May the Lord, who is with us all, accompany us on our missionary journey.

Let’s take a moment to read Pope Francis’ message for this day.

Pawel Hulecki (M.Afr) General Assistant

DOMUND 2023

YOUTH WORKSHOP ON MISSION BEFORE SYNOD 2023

To mark the beginning of the Synod on Synodality Assembly on the 4th of October 2023, the Vatican organised several activities in Rome. On the 30th of September 2023, there were over twenty (20) workshops organised in different places in Rome on different topics and an Ecumenical Prayer Virgil at Saint Peter’s Square.

These workshops brought together young people from all over the world. I participated in the Workshop held at the Trinità dei Monti, which had mission as its theme. It was a great pleasure to be welcomed by some members of the Coordinating Team of the Together Gathering of God’s People group. In the introduction given at the beginning of the Workshop, Mission was defined in general terms before delving into what it entails, especially for young people today.

Rev. Elijah M. BROWN, the General Secretary and CEO of Baptist World Alliance (BWA) and myself were invited to share our experiences in Mission. I found this to be a very good initiative because it was really an ecumenical encounter in which we shared our life not only as Missionaries but also as Christians looking forward to participating more in God’s Mission. It was a good witness of God’s love and being open to one another as we shared our missionary experiences. For sure, it was a deep and enriching experience.

I consider this an excellent platform to share with young people from various countries and cultures who wish to serve God in multiple ways. Many of them expressed the desire to offer themselves as Missionary Volunteers in their particular churches despite the doubts and fears that they experience continuously. For some, it was the right occasion to share their opinions so that together, we can search for better solutions to respond to God’s Mission and the challenges it presents in our present World.

Some questions that were asked during the Workshop

As a young Catholic Missionary Priest, I lived this great moment of sharing and encounter with other Christians with a positive attitude and much hope for the future. For example, It was so encouraging to hear various questions that were asked during the Workshop. Here are some selected questions which I paraphrased:

“How can we respond to the message of the so called “prosperity gospel”?

“Why is it that often we notice that the churches are empty, and yet some World Youth Gatherings such as the WYD many young people attend? How do we explain this?”

“Sometimes I feel that I’m so young and unexperienced and somehow limited in the field of Mission. What advise would you give me about this?”

“In my Country Egypt, I experience rejection. How can I face it as a Christian?”

“Social Media is attracting a lot of young people, as Missionaries, how do we approach this challenging reality?”

“How can I develop a personal relationship with God?”

“What are some ways to deal with “seasons of dryness” in one’s life of prayer?”

“How can we manage to be “radical christians” and at the same time deal with accessibility?”

“What would you say about Mission and Conversion?”

We tried to respond together to the above questions based on our experiences. For instance, in my case it was important to respond according to my missionary experience, and explain more on the official teaching of the Church on certain topics. It is important to note that questions such as these are so helpful as we continue participating in God’s Mission. They play an essential role as an “eye-opener” so as to help us discover the new horizons of Mission and how to be ready to read and interpret the “signs of time” in our World full of challenges today. They give us more energy to move on with God’s Mission and to be attentive to what young people are going through in our World today. In short, it was a wonderful and extraordinary experience for me as a Young Catholic Missionary Priest.

Some ways to overcome difficulties and challenges in Mission today

Looking at today’s context in which a good number of difficulties and challenges affect the Mission either directly or indirectly, it is essential to respond contextually and be able to analyse and evaluate the situation. For instance, some of these difficulties and challenges are associated with religious pluralism, religious indifference, insecurity, the multiple ways of understanding and living the Christian faith inside Christianism, etc. Hence, what is vital in this case is to cultivate the passion and love for God’s Mission. Always remember that it is “God’s Mission” and not our mission in the first place. As Pope John Paul II states: “The internal and external difficulties must not discourage us. What matters is, like in every aspect of Christian life, is the faithfulness that comes, that is from the certainty that we are not the Protagonists of the Mission, but Jesus Christ and His Spirit” (RM 36). This encourages us to face today’s reality with confidence and hope that God accompanies us as we continue serving Him. In addition, Pope Francis, at the Ecumenical Virgil Prayer that was held on the 30th of September 2023, invited us to learn to be silent in prayer so that we could let the Holy Spirit speak to us and guide us in accomplishing God’s Mission.

Fr. Humphrey MUKUKA, M.Afr.

Season of Creation / September 2023

Via Aurelia Pilgrims Celebrate the Season of Creation 2023

On 9 September 2023, members of the Via Aurelia Pilgrims in Rome, from near and far, as well as neighbors, friends, and visitors, gathered at the Generalate of the Missionaries of Africa to celebrate the Season of Creation. Among participants were also Major Superiors of different religious institutes, members of JPIC Roma – Commission USG-UISG and JPIC Promotors working in Rome. As pilgrims, we were united with the universal Church, to pray and raise awareness about the need of justice, peace, and the care of our common home. Furthermore, it was a time to ask for the grace of repentance, forgiveness, reconciliation, and true ecological conversion.

Around 05:00 pm., the Superior General of the Missionaries of Africa cordially welcomed the pilgrims. We were about 75 religious men and women. To be closer to nature, we chose to pray in the garden. It was a time for us to treasure and live the value of care imbedded in the Encyclical Letter, Laudato Si’ (LS). Why praying for the whole of creation? “Because all creatures are connected, each must be cherished with love and respect, for all of us as living creatures are dependent on one another” (LS, 42). Therefore, it becomes an imperative to care for our neighbor and planet.

Caring for the whole of creation does not exclude the question of peace and social fairness. They are the two sides of the same coin. That is why we took time to listen and meditate upon the following words of the prophet Amos: I can’t stand your religious meetings. I’m fed up with your conferences and conventions. I want nothing to do with your religion projects, your pretentious slogans and goals. I’m sick of your fund-raising schemes, your public relations and image making. I’ve had all I can take of your noisy ego-music. When was the last time you sang to me? Do you know what I want? I want justice—oceans of it. I want fairness—rivers of it. That’s what I want. That’s all I want (cf. Amos 5:21-24).

We were very happy to have been able to come together to pray for peace and fairness among people. We offered our spiritual contribution to the care of our common home, as Pope Francis calls us to do. It is important to note that last year, around the same time, the Via Aurelia Pilgrims prayed together for ecological conversion.

It is worth adding that the theme for 2023 Season of Creation is “Let Justice and Peace Flow”. Through prayer, meditation, and fraternal sharing, we resolutely chose to be active tributaries that build up a mighty river of fairness (cf. Amos 5:24). Such a resolute attitude entails ‘journeying together’ as family of believers. Are you ready to join our synodal journey?

By P. Harelimana

SGF Jerusalem – Ordinations

SGF Jerusalem - Ordinations

Four confreres, having completed their theological training in the Small Formation Group in Jerusalem, are getting ready to go back to their respective countries and prepare themselves to be ordained. Here are the details of the forthcoming ordinations.

Name:Audace NIYIBIGIRA
Nationality:Burundian
Date of Ordination:16th July 2022
Place of Ordination:Gatara Parish
Diocese:Ngozi
Ordaining minister:Mgr. Georges BIZIMANA
First appointment:Khartoum, Sudan (EAP)
Name:Isac KINDA
Nationality:Burkinabè
Date of Ordination:9th of July 2022
Place of Ordination:Cathedral of St Augustine of Koudougou
Diocese:Koudougou
Ordaining minister:Mgr. Joachim OUEDRAOGO
First appointment:Kipaka, DRC (PAC)
Name:Jose Belito JOAQUIM
Nationality:Mozambican
Date of Ordination:26th June 2022
Place of Ordination:Paroquia de Nossa Senhora de Fatima
Diocese:Beira
Ordaining minister:Arcebispo Claudio Dalla Zuanna
First appointment:Birni N’koni, Niger (PAO)
Name:Thierry UYIRWOTH
Nationality:Congolese
Date of Ordination:20th July 2022
Place of Ordination:Notre Dame de Logo
Diocese:Mahagi-Nioka
Ordaining minister:Mgr. Sosthène Ayikuli
First appointment:Kasamba Parish, Zambia (SAP)

Oath and Diaconate Ordination

Missionary Oath and Diaconate Ordination

The Missionaries of Africa are pleased to announce
the Missionary Oath
On 6th May 2022 at 5.30 pm, Merrival Formation House, South Africa.

and

the Diaconate Ordination
By his Grace Seigfried Mandla Jwara CMM
(Archbishop of Durban)

On 7th May 2022, at 10.00 am, St, Vincent Parish, KwaMpumuza, South Africa.

Those who will take their missionary oath
and will be ordained deacons are :

Aimé Ouédraogo

(Burkina Faso)

Celestin Kabumba

(DR Congo)

Emmanuel Kokpe

(Togo)

Ernest Osei

(Ghana)

John Bosco Mukulia

(Uganda)

Joseph Odhiambo

(Kenya)

Modeste Tebuka

(DR Congo)

Valentin Muzi

(DR Congo)

André Sawadogo

(Burkina Faso)

Chandan Nayak

(India)

Ephrahim Konkobo

(Burkina Faso)

Jean Luc Compaoré

(Burkina Faso)

Joseph Ilunga

(DR Congo)

Julius Rweyemanu

(Tanzania)

Kashmir Xess

(India)

Velangini Vara Prasad Talada

(India)

Be apostles nothing but apostles (Lavigerie)

Facebook link

Missionaries of Africa
Merrival Formation House, South Africa,

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 ktotv.com. 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.

 
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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 www.watchaweb.co.za
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

Oath & Declaration of Intent in Jerusalem

Oath & Declaration of Intent in Jerusalem

On Tuesday, 26th November, our Confrere Michael Cardinal Fitzgerald, received the Final Oath of Patient Balma and Nelson Ekeh, as well as the renewal of the Declaration of Intent of Audace Niyibigira, Belito Jose Joaquim, Isac Kinda and Thierry Uyirwoth in the new Chapel of St. Anne’s in Jerusalem. Congratulations to all.

 
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