Chapter Communication – 13th June 2022

Chapter Communication - 13 June 2022

The audience with Pope Francis took place this morning with more than fifty confreres. I am sharing with you a short text that Didier Sawadogo was kind enough to write for our daily communication.

Papal Audience with the capitulants on 13 June 2022

We were welcomed at the Bronze Gate at 11.45am and taken to the Clementine Hall dedicated to Pope Clement VIII. We were 51 Missionaries of Africa and Sister Inarra Maria-Begona, observer at the Chapter on behalf of the MSOLA.

It was a busy morning for the Pope who entered the Clementine Hall at 1.05 pm to the applause of the capitulants.

Stan Lubungo, took the floor to greet the Pope and give us news.  He began by thanking the Pope for his welcome and recalled that on 8 February 2019, we had the joy and privilege of being welcomed with our MSOLA Sisters by him as part of the celebration of the 150th anniversary of the foundation of our two institutes.  We were encouraged and carried by his strong words inviting us to be faithful to our origins in order to commit ourselves fearlessly to the path of mission in order to bear witness that “God is always new, He who pushes us to go without respite and to move beyond what is known, towards the peripheries and the frontiers”. Today,” the Superior General told the Pope, “you welcome us once again in the context of our General Chapter, another important stop to reread the past and turn towards the future with hope.  He shared with the Pope our joy at the announcement of his visit to Congo and South Sudan, two countries where we are and share the life of the people. We pray that his health will allow him to carry out this missionary journey as soon as possible in order to strengthen the people who expect a lot from this visit. He ended by sharing with the Pope the sad news of the death of our confrere, Michael Mawelera, who was killed in Mbeya, Tanzania on 10 June.

In response, the Pope began by reiterating his desire to visit Congo and South Sudan, but also shared the difficulty of travelling at his age: “To my great regret, I had to postpone my trip to Congo and South Sudan. Indeed, at my age, it is not so easy to go on mission! But your prayers and your example give me courage, and I am confident that I will be able to visit these peoples, whom I hold in my heart,” he said.  He added: “On 3 July, the day I was to celebrate in Kinshasa, we will take Kinshasa to St Peter’s, and there we will celebrate with all the Roman Congolese, who are numerous.

He remembered our Jubilee well and asked us to pass on his greetings to the confreres and the MSOLA Sisters. He reminded us that looking back with gratitude as we do on the occasion of our Chapter is a sign of good spiritual health. Gratitude opens us to hope. Therefore, he invited us to move forward in gratitude and hope. Taking up the quotation of our founder, quoted by the Superior General, the Holy Father reminded us that the apostle is not the one who proselytises. Proselytising is not evangelical. The apostle is a witness. Witness is based on two things: fraternity and prayer. A good example of this is the life of Saint Charles de Foucauld, the universal brother.

To conclude, the Holy Father invited us to the joy of the Gospel, to be joyful missionaries who sow joy in spite of the context of poverty and insecurity before giving us his apostolic blessing and inviting us to pray for him.

N.B.: You can read the full text of the Holy Father’s message on this very blog.

During the afternoon, the capitulants devoted themselves, for the second time during this Chapter, to interculturality and to the identity and formation of the brothers. The texts will be further polished. I cannot bring you much that is new. However, I will take up with you some of the realities that attracted the attention of the participants.

INTERCULTURALITY

Interculturality is part of our charism, our lifestyle and our mission. It remains a central element of our evangelical witness where we live. Our intercultural communities arouse in us an interest in knowing the cultures of our confreres and they increase in us the desire and willingness to learn and love those of the peoples we serve.

Interculturality in our midst enriches us as a society, as missionary communities and as individuals with the qualities of our different peoples. It is a sign of dialogue between cultures, peoples and religions. It is also a witness of universal brotherhood for the world today.

The aim of our interculturality is not to build a small private intercultural bastion. We are called to integrate and transmit interculturality to the peoples through our encounters, our pastoral missionary initiatives, our visits and apostolate to all.

The capitulants do not take for granted this characteristic of interculturality that is so significant for us. They have therefore looked at ways of protecting it and living it better.

IDENTITY AND FORMATION OF THE BROTHERS

The Society of Missionaries of Africa is composed of brothers and priests. All of us have the same common missionary vocation and live the same charism bequeathed to us by Cardinal Lavigerie. All of us develop a strong prayer life, all of us live community life, all of us are affected by interculturality, life away from our families, learning the language and customs, and all of us want to be witnesses of the Gospel. This common missionary vocation, which is ours, is lived in two ways, as brothers and as priests. The presence and apostolate of the brothers in our society is a treasure to be treasured and it is clear that the Society of the Missionaries of Africa would not be what it is today without the presence and contribution of the brothers among us. All of us are missionaries and apostles. The evangelical witness of the brothers makes that of society more complete and whole.

A large part of the discussion focused on the formation of the brothers, which needs to be clarified. What formation and for what purpose? There is no ready-made answer to the question because the formation of the brothers requires a personalised professional component in order to exercise its mission effectively.

Audience to participants at the General Chapter of the Missionaries of Africa

Chapter Communication - Audience with Pope Francis

Audience to participants at the General Chapter of the Missionaries of Africa (White Fathers),

This morning, in the Vatican Apostolic Palace, the Holy Father Francis received in Audience the participants of the General Chapter of the Missionaries of Africa (White Fathers).

We publish below the speech that the Pope addressed to those present at the Audience:

Address of the Holy Father

Translation : Deepl.com

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning and welcome!

I thank the Superior General for the words with which he introduced this meeting of ours.

Unfortunately, with great regret, I had to postpone my trip to Congo and South Sudan. Indeed, at my age it is not so easy to go on a mission! But your prayers and example give me courage, and I am confident that I will be able to visit these peoples, whom I carry in my heart. Next Sunday, I will try to celebrate Mass with the Roman Congolese community. Not the next one, on 3 July, the day I was supposed to celebrate in Kinshasa. We will take Kinshasa to St Peter’s, and there we will celebrate with all the Roman Congolese, of whom there are many!

I remember the celebration of your 150th anniversary, which we experienced three years ago together with your Missionary Sisters. Please give them my greetings too!

For this General Chapter, you have chosen to work on mission as prophetic witness. We will make a brief reflection on this. But first I want to tell you that I really enjoyed hearing that you lived these days “with gratitude” and “with hope”. This is very beautiful. Looking back with gratitude is a sign of good spiritual health; it is the “Deuteronomic” attitude that God taught his people (cf. Deut 8). Cultivate the grateful memory of the path that the Lord has made us take. And this gratitude is what feeds the flame of hope. Those who do not know how to thank God for the gifts that He has sown along the way – albeit tiring and at times painful – do not even have a hopeful soul, open to God’s surprises and trusting in His providence. In particular, this spiritual attitude is decisive for the germs of vocation that the Lord arouses with his Spirit and his Word to mature. A community in which one knows how to say “thank you” to God and one’s brothers and sisters, and in which one helps each other to hope in the Risen Lord is a community that attracts and supports those who are called. So, onwards with gratitude and hope.

We now come to the subject of mission as prophetic witness. This is where fidelity to your roots is at stake, to the charism that the Spirit has entrusted to Cardinal Lavigerie. The world is changing, Africa too is changing, but that gift retains its charge of meaning and strength. And it retains it in you to the extent that it is always led back to Christ and the Gospel. If salt loses its taste, what good is it? (cf. Mt 5:13). Father General recalled the exhortation that the Founder used to repeat: “Be apostles, nothing but apostles! And the apostle of Jesus Christ is not someone who proselytises. The proclamation of the Gospel has nothing to do with proselytism. If at any time any of you find yourselves proselytising, please stop, be converted, and then continue. Proclamation is something else. The apostle is not a manager, he is not a learned lecturer, he is not an IT “wizard”, the apostle is a witness. This is true always and everywhere in the Church, but it is especially true for those who, like you, are often called to live the mission in contexts of first evangelisation or prevalent Islamic religion.

Witness essentially means two things: prayer and fraternity. A heart open to God and a heart open to our brothers and sisters. First of all being in the presence of God, letting Him look at you, every day, in adoration. There to draw the sap, in that “abiding in Him”, in Christ, which is the condition for being apostles (cf. Jn 15:1-9). It is the paradox of the mission: you can only go if you remain. If you are not able to remain in the Lord, you could not go.

Recently, the testimony of Charles de Foucauld has been proposed to the veneration of the universal Church: it is another charism, certainly, but it also has much to say to you, as to all Christians of our time. Prayer and fraternity: the Church must return to this essential nucleus, to this radiant simplicity, naturally not in a uniform manner, but in the variety of its charisms, its ministries, and its institutions; but everything must allow this original nucleus to shine through, which goes back to Pentecost and to the first community, described in the Acts of the Apostles (cf. 2:42-47; 4:32-35).

We are often inclined to think of prophecy as an individual reality – and this is a dimension that always remains true, following the model of the prophets of Israel – but prophecy is also and I would say above all communitarian: it is the community that gives prophetic witness. I think of your fraternities, made up of people from so many countries, from different cultures. It is not easy, it is a challenge you can only accept by counting on the help of the Holy Spirit. And then this small community of yours, which lives of prayer and fraternity, is itself called to dialogue with the environment in which it lives, with the people, with the local culture. In these contexts, where often, in addition to poverty, you experience insecurity and precariousness, you are sent to live the sweet joy of evangelising. St Paul VI uses this word in his Evangelii Nuntiandi. Evangelising is the mission of the Church, evangelising is the joy of the Church. Incidentally: take Evangelii nuntiandi, which is still in force today, and it will give you many, many insights for reflection and mission. I thank the Lord with you for this great gift of evangelisation.

May Our Lady, our Lady of Africa, accompany you and protect you. I pray for you, I give you my blessing; bring it also to your brothers and sisters and to the faithful of your communities. And please do not forget to pray for me. Thank you!

Chapter communication – 11th June 2022

Chapter Communication - 11 June 2022

The chapter is progressing and the computers are becoming more and more active in producing more precise texts to present to the assembly. These texts also contain recommendations. The plenary assembly approves the content and the teams get back to work on a text taking into account the suggestions of the plenary. Their adoption and vote is scheduled for next week. Today, two themes were presented: Justice and Peace and Integrity of Creation, as well as Ongoing Formation with the Care and Accompaniment of Confreres. I leave you with a short overview

The chapter members visit the PISAI in the afternoon. Tomorrow, Sunday, is a free day and the audience with the Pope will be held on Monday morning.

JUSTICE AND PEACE AND THE INTEGRITY OF CREATION

“I am man, injustice to other men revolts my heart. I am man, oppression outrages my nature. I am man, cruelty to so many of my fellow men inspires only horror. I am a man, and what I would like to see done to give me back my freedom, my honour, the sacred bonds of the family, I want to do in order to give the sons of these peoples their honour, their freedom, their dignity” (Cardinal Lavigerie, Conference on African slavery, Rome, Church of the Gesu, 28 December 1888).

This quotation from Cardinal Lavigerie quickly brought us to reality. It expresses the Cardinal’s motivation and compassion for those who suffer. Our founder was touched by human suffering. The Society’s commitment to Justice and Peace and the Integrity of Creation dates from its origins. Didn’t the cardinal himself care for orphans and slaves? The Society has founded centres for social studies, promoted development and conducted sessions to walk with the people with whom we live and to enable them to take control of their own destiny. 

Following the example of our founder, we are called to see the sufferings of the people of our time, to allow ourselves to be challenged by them and to take action, especially as insecurity, violence, migration, war and climate change disrupt human life and increase suffering.

It is crucial that we commit ourselves to justice and peace and the protection of the common home wherever we are. Today, under the initiative of Pope Francis and the universal Church, the Laudato si platform calls us to join the whole Church in taking relevant and prophetic actions in this direction. How will we participate in this platform?

Now the mission of Justice and Peace and Integrity of Creation is carried out in collaboration with many partners and networks, of which the universal and local Church is part. This collaboration generates solidarity among those who are dedicated to this mission. It helps to counteract our sense of powerlessness in the face of the immense task of this mission and to rekindle our hope.

ONGOING FORMATION
CARE OF CONFRERES AND ACCOMPANIMENT OF CONFRERES

The purpose of ongoing formation is to better equip us for our mission and to make us more competent and effective in our activities. All professions in the world have ongoing formation requirements to ensure that their members remain well informed of new findings and to update their knowledge. Good ongoing formation helps the person to maintain a balanced life with the ability to manage the different aspects of life well: professional, human, spiritual, etc.

Once again, we note how much our society has invested in promoting the growth and competence of its members with, among other things, retreats, sabbaticals, different sessions or studies, etc. We are grateful for this.

As the world becomes more polarised and violence and issues beyond our control increase, the circumstances of mission generate inner tensions and conflicts in missionaries. The Society does not forget the confreres who are forced to live with deep inner wounds and wants to accompany and support them on the path of life and the conquest of health. It reminds us of how a good community life can serve as a beneficial set-up for these confreres. Moreover, it counts on each of us to express to them all the fraternal attention, love, support and solidarity they need.

Chapter communication – 10th June 2022

Chapter Communication - 10 June 2022

The Chapter remains with the same dynamic as the teams present their writings to the plenary assembly for correction and verification and to be reworked according to the views and proposals of the assembly. To use a culinary image, it is a matter of simmering the sauce with another mixture of the same ingredients to get the desired flavour. As yesterday, four documents took the day, two in the morning and two in the afternoon. These were: mission outside Africa, collaboration and listening to the local Church, encounter-dialogue-Islam-traditional African religions-ecumenism-new religious movements and initial prophetic formation. I briefly share with you some of the elements that attracted the attention of the participants.

 

MISSION OUTSIDE AFRICA

AMERICA – ASIA – EUROPE

 

“Mission to the African world”, “mission where our charism is called upon”, “not to spread ourselves too thin”. And of course “for the world of today”. How can we apply these expressions to the needs of our world today? To answer these questions properly, we must first be convinced of our mission of evangelisation. Secondly, it is good to remind ourselves that mission is addressed to people, not to a place or territory. There is nothing new here, because our charism has led us since the very beginning of our society to live in proximity to the people. Moreover, today’s world reveals many painful human realities that fit very well with our missionary charism. 

 

This set of considerations does not mean that we should disperse and accept everything, especially since it is important to take into account the personnel available in our missionary society.

  

COLLABORATION AND LISTENING TO THE LOCAL CHURCH

 

The local African Church is growing more and more and invites us to live our mission within it. When it welcomes us, it usually does so with the knowledge of our missionary charism and offers us a specific mission that corresponds to our charism. Today, the local bishop is responsible for the mission in his circumscription and we work under his directives.

 

Collaborating with and listening to the African Church implies that we participate in its life, meetings, committees, pastoral care and evangelisation efforts. This requires a deep insertion on our part by learning the customs, culture and language, by knowing the mentality, what the people of that region live, what makes them laugh and cry. As such knowledge is not acquired quickly, it is necessary to establish stable communities there. Whatever the circumstances in which we find ourselves, the same love of Jesus and of the people drives us to serve the local Church. 

  

ENCOUNTER – DIALOGUE – ISLAM – TRADITIONAL AFRICAN RELIGIONS

ECUMENISM – NEW RELIGIOUS MOVEMENTS

 

The words of Pope Francis resounded during this sharing: we are called to be bridge-builders between men and women of today, to promote a culture of encounter and fraternity and respect for the good of all humanity, to work for peace where we live.

 

Through our missionary experience, we are recognised for our initiatives towards Islam and the traditional African religions. These initiatives are not outdated; the PISAI, IFIC, Senufo Centre show our long-standing commitment in this area.

 

We do not take this apostolate for granted. Indeed, some of our confreres have had to abandon their mission posts because of violence and insecurity. It happens regularly that there is no response to our efforts to encounter and dialogue. This fact shows us how much perseverance we need to last in dialogue and encounter. Once again, the importance of the stability of our missionary communities became apparent, because we are dealing with a long-term prophetic witness.

 

Formation plays a great role in preparing candidates for this type of commitment and in making us understand that dialogue and encounter are not the contribution of a few experts among us. Our formation houses are tools to explain Islam, the Maghreb and the mission of dialogue to the missionaries of Africa of tomorrow.

  

INITIAL PROPHETIC FORMATION

 

The exchanges on this subject led the capitulants to an appreciative description of our formation, with its four phases, the vade mecum, the formation of formators, interculturality, etc. The initial formation of the missionaries of Africa is spiritual, academic and human. In short, it is integral and aims at the whole person of the candidate. Prophetic initial formation takes into account the realities of today’s world, such as economic and health crises, insecurity, polarisation, violence, political, social and economic issues and pluralism. It equips the person to grow in human and spiritual maturity, and to understand and serve the society in which they live.  It also aims to imbue the candidate with the missionary spirit of our society and to be available to serve and love where no one else will go.

 

The formators see how crucial the selection of candidates by the vocational animator is for the proper functioning of the houses of formation.  

The photos are taken by Pawel Hulecki, who occupies every day the same place. Of course, the photos are everyday quite similar, although if you pay attention to the slides projected, you will feel a little more part of the Chapter’s process. Thank you to Pawel. Occasionally, Andreas and Salvador are also sharing some photos. Thank you to them. (Signed: Philippe Docq)

Chapter communication – 9th June 2022

Chapter Communication - 9 June 2022

As the chapter progresses, the topics discussed become more and more condensed. Teams have started to present texts to the plenary. And the drafting committee is increasingly busy examining them and refining the language in order to come up with the best possible expression of the fruit of the capitulants’ sharing. Today four components of our mission were presented to the plenary assembly: our charism and the evangelical counsels, sharing our charism with the laity, primary evangelisation and integrity of ministry.

CHARISM AND EVANGELICAL COUNSELS

The capitulants returned to the Missionaries of Africa’s oath which contains the central core of our missionary charism. We are called to better understand the oath, its content, its demands, its challenges, its limitations and its implications for our lives. It is crucial that we perceive more clearly what prevents us from living our oath in an integral, authentic and prophetic way.

SHARING OUR CHARISM WITH THE LAITY

More and more people are approaching us, Missionaries of Africa, with the desire to live our charism with a deeper commitment than that of practical and professional collaboration. They seek a spirituality that motivates them. They are attracted to our missionary charism and spirituality. The discussions focused on how to share our charism with the laity, what kind of group/association will emerge, our link with the group and our contribution to support it, especially in the beginning. What will be the mission of this group? How do we proceed in the creation of such an association so that it becomes autonomous? What are the steps and implications for us as a society?

The provincial could initiate this task where it is possible to do so and according to the concrete context of the place. As the provinces are quite varied, it is likely that a particular group will identify more with the priorities of the Missionaries of Africa in that place.

PRIMARY EVANGELISATION

Primary evangelisation shaped us from the first days of our foundation in Algeria. It required us to be sent to areas of Africa that had not yet been touched by the Gospel message. Places of first evangelisation still exist in Africa, places inhabited by large non-Christian majorities, or places where the local Church has not reached sufficient maturity to incarnate the Christian faith in its environment.

We put into practice the requests of our founder to insert ourselves as best we could into the African communities that welcomed us. This is how we learned the language of the people, their customs. This enculturation also shaped us in our contacts with the people. Today, we realise that it is essential to insist on the different elements of enculturation, such as learning the language, the stability of our communities. We want to immerse ourselves more in the culture of the people who welcome us so that the Gospel of Jesus Christ may take root there. We are called to deepen our gospel witness.

INTEGRITY OF MINISTRY

In considering the integrity of ministry, the Chapter members knew that they were dealing with a very delicate subject. Delicate because it reveals our vulnerability and a lack of authenticity on our part, because it touches on everything in our behaviour that, in one way or another, generates suffering in those around us and those who collaborate with us. Delicate because it affects the credibility of our missionary witness. Delicate also because it affects several components of our life: relationships with people, our leadership style, our managemet of material goods, or the way we live our friendships, our relaxation, not forgetting our prayer and community life. All of these require constant attention to our discipline and lifestyle.

We recognise the immense work that the Society has done in recent years in the area of integrity of ministry, both within our Society and with the communities we serve. We are determined to strengthen our commitment to the prevention and protection of minors and vulnerable persons, and to work in the line that Pope Francis is outlining for the whole universal Church.

Chapter Communication – 8th June 2022

Chapter Communication - 8 June 2022

Yesterday, the chapter offered us a marathon with a full day of plenary sessions. Today the teams are taking over after having received, this morning, the necessary indications for their work. I cannot specify what topics are suggested for today’s exchanges nor the method used. However, the phases of seeing, discerning and judging seem to come close to the phase of acting.

The moderators asked the teams to produce short texts to be shared and discussed in plenary and then taken up by the drafting committee who would bring them back to the plenary. These texts, without being definitive, will help to focus the discussions even more, to clarify the intuitions and to express more clearly the fruits all the work of the last three weeks. A period of gestation necessary in order to move forward according to the views of the Holy Spirit.

Tomorrow, the day will begin with plenary assemblies.

Chapter Communication – 7th June 2022

Chapter Communication - 7 June 2022

Here we are again with the daily report. The plenary sessions occupied the whole day and there were several topics on the agenda: continuing education, self-care, accompaniment of confreres, interculturality, personnel resources and financial material resources. I will share some of the points with you.

ONGOING FORMATION

The participants started by acknowledging the efforts of the society for the ongoing formation of its members. They noted that the pandemic has slowed down the ongoing formation activities a lot. However, online sessions have become much more common and several members have managed to follow interesting courses. The internet offers too many possibilities and it is important to choose the right sessions. Ongoing formation is not limited to attending sessions. It includes recollections and retreats, sharing of homilies, personal readings, and courses in some institutes. Several provinces have taken advantage of the provincial councils to present a topic for reflection.

In order to benefit from ongoing formation, it is necessary for the person to have a good personal discipline and to keep his curiosity alive. He must give himself time for personal reflection in order to integrate the content of the readings, sharing and sessions.

It is necessary to update the content of the sessions and conferences according to the mission and the world of today. We are disappointed that some confreres do not pay enough attention to their own formation.

SELF CARE

This is an important aspect of mission, because it is about taking care of the missionary, his health and well-being. Taking care of oneself is the responsibility of the confrere himself. No one can do it for him.

Self-care is not a waste of time. Rather, it is a commitment to oneself and to the mission. To be successful, it is enough to discipline oneself and do regular interesting activities to relax: walking, sport, music, visiting friends, reading, prayer, recollection, sleep and paying attention to food and drink. Spending time together with fellow members is very beneficial, while regular medical consultation helps to remain in good health. Taking care of oneself is an excellent antidote to activism and overwork. 

It is suggested that this aspect of missionary life be introduced in the houses of formation.

ACCOMPANIMENT OF CONFRERES

Once again, the participants thanked the Society for the initiatives taken to accompany confreres in difficulty and for the help given to confreres. Centres are being consulted and others have been created for this ministry. We are aware that effective support requires professional skills. 

Professional guidance does not exempt confreres from supporting others who are ill or in difficulty. The well-being of confreres in difficulty concerns all confreres, not only the authorities or professionals. Indeed, a moment of listening, compassion and friendship towards the sick confrere is very comforting for him.  This does not exclude the use of tough love, which gives hope to the confrere, can help him to recover, and which we are unfortunately afraid of. The contribution of a lively and vigorous community is very beneficial for the sick confrere.

Let us remember that we are all human and vulnerable and that we appreciate brotherly support in our difficult moments.

INTERCULTURALITY

Interculturality is an important element of our missionary charism. It shapes our society and our mission, our community and our relationships with people. It is a component of our prophetic witness to the Church and the world today. It also attracts vocations in our society. In order to face better the challenge of intercultural life, sessions were held for confreres.

We live interculturality at all levels of our missionary life, in community, in our apostolate, in the provincial teams up to the general council, in our houses of formation and in all the provinces, also in Europe and America. We want to preserve this particularity of our charism. We know that interculturality brings us closer to the people to whom we are sent and with whom we live. We appreciate the efforts made to create intercultural communities and intercultural leadership teams, taking into account of course the competencies required for the missionary apostolate.

It is essential to remember that interculturality is quite different from internationality. A country and a single nation are often made up of people from several cultures.

A good image to describe what interculturality is and what attitudes are required is to consider that going on mission is like entering someone else’s garden, a garden where there are different plants, trees, fruits from those in our own garden.

GOVERNANCE
HUMAN RESOURCES

This section has dealt with provincials, provincial assistants, provincial delegates, their role, consultations and elections before their appointment. The provincial teams do their best to be close to the confreres and ensure their spiritual animation and well-being. The distances and the insecurity complicate their work. The functioning of the megaprovinces needs to be examined. Some sectors tend to function as if they were provinces.

It is clear that a provincial team is more harmonious and efficient when the provincial specifies the areas of competence of the provincial delegate. The conviviality of the provincial team, living in the same residence, greatly favours the sharing of information and allows better discernment and decision-making in urgent situations.

Interculturality remains an essential element of our leadership and is part of our prophetic mission. We do not forget that our structures are at the service of the mission.

GOVERNANCE
FINANCIAL AND MATERIAL RESOURCES

The discussion started with a list of achievements in the management of our resources: budgeting, auditing, self-financing projects, EVAF, harmonisation of accounting software, building, finance and development committees operating in provinces, training of bursars. There has been good progress in the last few years. We need to strengthen transparency and accountability in our management of material goods.

We see that more and more people in Africa want to help us and contribute to our mission. The management of financial and material resources is a space for collaboration with the laity. In the course of the discussions, the firm commitment of the society to support and help all the confreres, whatever their situation, was strongly expressed.

The confreres have become much more aware of the material and financial reality that the mission and well-being of our society entails.

Chapter Communication – 6th June 2022

Chapter Communication - 6th June 2022

The work of the Chapter resumes today, Monday, after a visit to Assisi and to Pompeii on Saturday. Yesterday, Sunday, was a holiday and there was a celebration with religious communities close to our Generalate for the day of Pentecost. We heard a short meditation on each of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit.

The first task of the capitulants was to appoint the first assistant.

FRANCIS BOMANSAAN WAS ELECTED
FIRST ASSISTANT
JUNE 6, 2022

We congratulate and thank him for accepting this important position. We assure him of our support in the exercise of his responsibilities and apostolate.

The General Council is now complete at the beginning of the fourth week of the Chapter, the day after Pentecost, when Pope Francis proclaimed an important reform of the Roman Curia, one of the aims of which is to give a more central place to the mission of the Church.

The afternoon is dedicated to the plenary session.

INITIAL AND SPECIALISED TRAINING

The members of the Chapter considered formation from missionary vocational animation to specialised formation. The effort of the Society for formation is immense and the work of the Formation Secretariat contributes to the quality of our formation.

In all its phases, our formation is made up of several components, spirituality, community life, mission, studies, etc. We want it to be holistic, human and integral. In order to achieve this goal, special care must be taken to the quality of the formators and the selection of candidates. Several points were discussed: the balance between rights and duties in our formation houses, the study of two official languages of the society, interculturality, memorandum of understanding, relation formators-candidates, and many others. The consortia in which we collaborate show the evolution of formation, quite different from the time when we had our own scholasticates.

For some time now, formation houses have been asked to start small self-financing projects. These are not limited to the economic aspect, as they are part of formation, encouraging confreres to do the same after ordination or oath.

Specialised formation is becoming more and more necessary due to the development of Africa and its teaching institutions. In the appointment to specialised formation, it is important to consider the needs of society and the mission, without forgetting the interests, gifts and charisms of the confreres who are appointed to it.

FORMATION AND IDENTITY OF THE BROTHERS

All the members of the society are happy to have the brothers among us, proud of their work and apostolate over the years. We form a society of brothers and priests according to the will and efforts of our founder. The witness of the brothers and their work in education, construction, printing, agriculture, development has shaped the history of our society, its mission and is part of its heritage. This fact confirms that we share a common missionary vocation and that this vocation is lived out in two different ways. The brothers need courage, because their vocation is often misrepresented, misunderstood and underestimated.

We must recognise that the formation programmes for the brothers lack clarity and precision. A common formative core for brothers and fathers at the beginning of formation is good. The brothers are happy to have received a good basic philosophical and theological formation. Like the fathers, they need a deep and well integrated spirituality. The choice of professional formation needs to take into account the needs of the society and the mission as well as the gifts and charisms of the brothers.

It is essential to pay attention to the new emerging profile of the missionary brother.

Francis Bomansaan elected First Assistant

Francis Bomansaan elected First Assistant

Today, Monday, 6th June 2022, Father Francis BOMANSAAN was elected First Assistant of the Society of the Missionaries of Africa by the General Chapter here in Rome.

Our fraternal congratulations and our best wishes to Francis.    

Rome, 6th June 2022.
André-L. SIMONART,
Secretary General.

Chapter Communication – 3rd June 2022

Chapter Communication - 3 June 2022

On Uganda Martyrs’ Day, the chapter continued its work and this morning in plenary discussed two aspects of mission: listening to the local Church and integrity of ministry.

LISTENING TO THE LOCAL CHURCH

We have had the joy of founding and participating in the growth of many African local churches. They have changed and grown since their foundation and we are no longer the immediate leaders. They have evolved and so have we. We want to continue to be part of the local Churches and to serve them with humility, even if a certain tension between diocesan authorities and the living out of our charism persists. Putting our charism at the service of the local Church remains fundamental. The local Church is the place where we live our missionary charism. We benefit from their experience of Christian and pastoral life and they benefit from our charism, especially when we engage in diocesan priorities and in difficult places. We are known for being initiators and for our lifestyle.

In order to insert ourselves well into the local Church, it is necessary to stabilise our communities further, allowing their members to learn better the local language and the culture of the people we serve. We do not forget the vital contribution of our international and intercultural communities in living our charism and witness.

We conclude by quoting our confrere bishop Jan de Groef: “Missionaries should be part and parcel of the diocese, not apart from it”.

INTEGRITY OF MINISTRY

If there is one subject that is much talked about these days, it is the integrity of ministry. There is a growing awareness of the importance of insisting on transparency and authenticity in our finances, fidelity to our charism and in our relationships and friendships with those around us and with whom we collaborate. Living our missionary oath with all its components remains a deep motivation for us. An intense prayer life is always a source of inner strength. A healthy community life remains a good support. Transparency and authenticity make our witness and mission credible. Prevention is a priority in this area, as well as the welcoming of victims.

Our missionary society committed to achieving integrity in ministry. Confreres DPE (delegates for the protection of children and vulnerable persons) have been trained and have taken initiatives for awareness and prevention in their respective environments. Codes of conduct were put in place.

A large part of this ministry consists of assisting confreres in difficulty. The mission is sometimes very demanding (areas of insecurity and violence) and can cause burnouts and other difficulties. The society reaffirms its commitment to the care and health of its members.

Integrity of ministry is an integral part of our missionary charism.

TODAY, 3 JUNE 2022
FATHER PAWEL HULECKI
WAS ELECTED ASSISTANT GENERAL
OF THE SOCIETY OF MISSIONARIES OF AFRICA

Father Pawel Hulecki is from Poland and he came to participate in the Chapter in Rome as a representative of West Africa Province. He was in the parish of Korhogo in Ivory Coast. We congratulate him on his election to the General Council. We assure him of our prayers and friendship. May the Lord accompany him in his new responsibilities as he serves the same Lord and the same mission in another way.