Return to the Source : Day two

La Marsa (Tunis), 13th December 2018. This is the second day of our pilgrimage to the source. Technically, it’s the first day because yesterday we arrived from all over the world. We are about 45, White Fathers and White Sisters, and also some sisters from the MSOLA family and a former Polish White Father candidate who came to report on the 150th anniversary for a Polish Catholic magazine. The organization is excellent: the two leaders are Fr. Markos and Sr. Spesioza for logistics, but many will provide various animation services, among others.

An excellent little booklet was distributed to us, which includes the programs, schedules, common prayers, and especially historical and even spiritual contents following the circuit of our pilgrimage. The confreres and sisters who prepared everything did not cheat us. I will make this booklet available to you as soon as I get a PDF copy, so you can follow the same pilgrimage, minus maybe the local colours, the smells and the Tunisian kindness.

“This first itinerary is intended to be both a discovery and a spiritual journey in the footsteps of the ancient Church of Africa, Lavigerie and the White Fathers and White Sisters in Tunisia.” This introduction describes well what we will do throughout the day.

As some of us live in La Marsa, about thirty kilometres from the City Centre of Tunis, and the others live in the Diocesan House in the city, we met at around 9am. We “registered” and chose one of the four badge colours available. We were then invited to meet by colour, now part of this “sharing team” defined by the chosen colour. Everyone could express their prayers of expectation for this pilgrimage. Already, hearts were opening to a grace that would be abundant.

We boarded a large bus that will take us from one place to another in the suburbs of La Marsa and Carthage where we have seen and sometimes visited places rich in culture, the history of Christian martyrs from antiquity and the modern establishment of a Church… which will not succeed in convincing a Muslim world very proud of its culture. All of this was imbued with the strong and radical words of “Lavigerie”, our founding Father who, with Mother Salome, realized many of his visions, many of which were often very audacious.

We start by discovering the places where we live: the Chapel Lavigerie, Villa Odo, first residence acquired by the Cardinal, which has now become the Charles de Foucault monastery, and the first building built by the Cardinal, which will quickly become a junior seminary and has now become the property of the diocese, which rents the first floor to a local primary school.

The bus will stop several times to show us the Perret Institute, the many archaeological discoveries of Bishop Delattre, including the remains of the Majorum Basilica, as well as the amphitheatre of Carthage where the saints Perpetua and Felicity and their companions were martyred. It is in a cave in the amphitheatre, where the prisoners were probably waiting for their “entrance on stage”, that we meditate on the story of their passion. We discover to what extent Bishop Delattre was instrumental in uncovering the Christian remains, now Tunisia’s heritage.  We criss-cross Carthage, stopping at the Chapel of Saint Louis and the Basilica of the same name. We will visit it on Saturday.  We arrive at the former high school of the White Sisters where, for the first time, it seems, the headmaster of the state school comes to meet us and invites us to enter, taking us directly to the old chapel which has been converted into a library. Some quotes in English on the walls impress us (see photos). A second school will open its doors to us, the former Franciscan Sisters’ school, where we were also invited to enter the old chapel, converted into a conference room, but where the original stained glass windows are intact, a sign of Tunisia’s great respect for its cultural heritage, will later tell us our confrere-bishop, John McWilliam. We meet many high school students, very friendly and smiling, not hesitating to chat with one or the other of the “elders” or even to pose with Josef de Becker whose Burkinabe hat obviously impresses! We will pass through many other places and end with a visit to our well-preserved “cemetery” where many white fathers and sisters rest in peace. We find, among others, our famous archaeologist Bishop Delattre. We each place a small lit tea light on a few tombs and recite a decade of rosary.

We return to La Marsa where we exchange, in our sharing teams, the feelings that inhabit us. This sharing will be followed by the Eucharist presided over by Fr. Francis Barnes, General Assistant of the Missionaries of Africa. He will note the many open doors we had during the day and the obvious spiritual fruits gathered by the participants in this pilgrimage day. This will make him say that, truly, everything is grace.

You will take interest in read the PDF of the booklet as soon as I put it on this site. It is a very well done work by Sister Cécile Dillé, I think.

Philippe Docq, M.Afr.

And here is the booklet (the full version of the animator) realised by Sister Cécile Dillé.

 
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140 years of presence in Jerusalem

This is an article from the site of the Latin Patriarchate in Jerusalem, dated December 11. The original post is here. The text was translated quickly with online help. In case of doubt, please refer to the original French.

On December 8, 2018, the Missionaries of Africa invited, as they do every year, the faithful and friends to come and celebrate with them the feast of the Immaculate Conception. This year, in addition to the Marian celebration, there was also the launching of the festivities for the jubilee of the 150th anniversary of the congregation and the 140th anniversary of its presence in the Holy Land.

The Mass of December 8 is traditionally celebrated with fervour among the Missionaries of Africa – also known as the White Fathers – because the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception is the patron saint’s feast of this Society of priests and also the women’s congregation, the Sisters of Our Lady of Africa. This is also the date of the annual consular mass [1] and on this occasion the Deputy Consul General, Mr. Rémy Bouallègue, joined the ceremony.

But this year, the mass of December 8 was also celebrated in union with the mass for the beatification of the 19 martyrs who died for their faith in Algeria, including four White Fathers murdered on December 27, 1994 in Tizi Ouzou. Finally, this Mass on December 8 celebrated two important jubilees: the 150th anniversary of the foundation of the Society of the White Fathers and the 140th anniversary of the presence of the Missionaries in the Holy Land.

Fraternity beyond cultural differences

It is the date of the opening of the first novitiate, October 18, 1868, which was chosen as the date of foundation of the Society of the White Fathers. For the founder, Bishop Lavigerie, the Missionaries of Africa must be “all things to all people” and adapt to the way of life of those to whom they are sent to spread the Gospel. For this reason they ask them to wear the local habit, to eat the same food as the inhabitants and to speak the language that allows them to open themselves to the culture of the country. Founded in North Africa, the society has developed in a large part of Africa. Today, there are still 1200 White Fathers, most of whom are in Black Africa. At the service of parishes and dioceses, they are as close as possible to the needs of the population and actively participate in interreligious dialogue. Also present in Europe, they bring their missionary experience to the dioceses of rich countries, to help welcome migrants and broaden the Church’s vision of the world.

Missionaries of Africa in the Middle East?

To find a congregation that has been mainly oriented towards Africa in the heart of Jerusalem for 140 years may seem questioning at first sight, but it would then be to not know the history of the founder. Charles Lavigerie before being the Archbishop of Algiers and the founder of the Society of the White Fathers was the first ecclesiastical director of the Work of the Schools of the Orient (now the Work of the Orient) and it is in this context that he had known, like a revelation, the Eastern Churches. This memory will come back in a flash when France, which became the owner of the church of Sainte-Anne, sought a religious community to keep it. Arriving in 1878, the White Fathers set up a seminary there in 1882 to train the Greek Melkite Catholic clergy. This seminary operated for 85 years, until the June 1967 war forced its transfer to Lebanon. Since then the White Fathers have continued, in various ways, to work for the Churches of the East, their unity and mission, and the service of the Church of Jerusalem in the fields of ecumenical and interreligious dialogue, and action for justice and peace. Thanks to the biblical training sessions, organized in Sainte-Anne since 1976, the Church of Africa is now coming to Jerusalem to pray and recharge their batteries.

Cécile Klos

[1] Each year, the Consul General of France officially visits each of the national domains belonging to France and certain religious communities of French origin, by taking part in the celebration of a mass.

 
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Beatification of the Algerian martyrs

Here are a few pictures of the  beatification

 
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Beatification of the Algeria Martyrs, Testimony of Fr. Raphaël Deillon

On the occasion of the beatification of the martyrs of Algeria, Father Raphaël Deillon, White Father, diocesan delegate (Marseille) for relations with Muslims, testifies to the years spent in this country with his missionary brothers and sisters, the Christian community and tells us about the links forged with this people of Algeria.

A tribute to the martyrs of Algeria who will be beatified next Saturday and an encouragement to all our confreres – and to all the baptized – to live an active presence in the fracture zones.

 

Pope Francis at the Synod with the Youth

On October 6, a meeting between the Pope, the Synod Fathers (Synod on Youth) and the young people took place in the Paul VI Hall (Aula Paolo VI) of the Vatican. Two hours of testimonies from young people, very high quality songs and a meeting with the Pope. Very beautiful! (In Italian with translation in French)

Kungoni Cultural Centre Open Day

Here are a few photos, courtesy of Bro. Vitus Abobo M.Afr, of the 2018 Kungoni Cultural Centre Open Day.

If you would like to view all the photos, follow this link

https://photos.app.goo.gl/qYS5XmoT3U4xwyQb9

Otherwise here are a few samples :

Please note that all the photos are copyrighted 

© Missionaries of Africa 2018

Priestly ordination of John Charles Mitumba, M.Afr.

The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind,
“You are a priest forever after the order of Merchizedek.” (Ps 110:4)

We thank the Lord for our five brothers
who will be ordained priests in the coming weeks.
It is a special blessing for our province.
Please pray for them during this special time in their lives.
I encourage as many confreres as possible to join us
and to contribute generously towards the success of these celebrations.

Robert KubaiMuthamia will be ordained on 9th June 2018 in Meru, Kenya.
He will celebrate the first and thanksgiving mass on 10th June 2018.

Nicolas MulingeNzomo and Simon ChegeNjuguna
will be ordained on 24th July 2018 at the Cathedral in Machakos.
The dates for the thanksgiving masses will be communicated later.

John Charles Mitumba will be ordained on 25th August 2018
at Busanda Parish, Shinyanga Diocese, Tanzania.
He will celebrate the thanksgiving mass on 26th August 2018.

NB: Deacon Maurice Odhiambo Aduol is still completing his studies in Merrivale, South Africa. The dates for his ordination will be communicated soon.

Thank you to all who have accompanied our brothers up to this stage on their missionary journey. Thank you all for your fraternal support.

Your brother,

Aloysius Ssekamatte, M Afr.
Provincial EAP

Priestly ordinations of Nicolas MulingeNzomo and Simon ChegeNjuguna, M.Afr.

The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind,
“You are a priest forever after the order of Merchizedek.” (Ps 110:4)

We thank the Lord for our five brothers
who will be ordained priest in the coming weeks.
It is a special blessing for our province.
Please pray for them during this special time in their lives.
I encourage as many confreres as possible to join us
and to contribute generously towards the success of these celebrations.

Robert KubaiMuthamia will be ordained on 9th June 2018 in Meru, Kenya.
He will celebrate the first and thanksgiving mass on 10th June 2018.

Nicolas MulingeNzomo and Simon ChegeNjuguna
will be ordained on 24th July 2018 at the Cathedral in Machakos.
The dates for the thanksgiving masses will be communicated later.

John Charles Mitumba will be ordained on 23rd August 2018
at Busanda Parish, Shinyanga Diocese, Tanzania.
He will celebrate the thanksgiving mass on 24th August 2018.

NB: Deacon Maurice Odhiambo Aduol is still completing his studies in Merrivale, South Africa. The dates for his ordination will be communicated soon.

Thank you to all who have accompanied our brothers up to this stage on their missionary journey. Thank you all for your fraternal support.

Your brother,

Aloysius Ssekamatte, M Afr.
Provincial EAP