The Second Term confrères’ meeting was held in Nairobi from the 26th of May 2019 to the 16th of June 2019. The composition of the participants reflected the international and interracial nature of our Society. The animators were Olivier SOMA from Burkina Faso and Gilles EFIYO from DRC all based in Nairobi, Balozi Formation House.
And the participants were:
Joseph CHIPIMO from Tanzania working in Tanzania,
Patrice SAWADOGO from Burkina Faso working in Zambia,
Anand RAJA from India working in India,
George ATHIKALAM from India working in India,
Norbert NKINGWA from Tanzania working in Zambia,
Saju AKKARAPATTIALAL from India working in India,
Anthony ALCKIAS from India working in Tanzania,
Ghislain MBILIZI from DRC working in Togo,
Peter EKUTT from Nigeria working in DRC,
Erus KISHOR Tirkey from India working in Ghana,
Jean Bosco NIBIGIRA from Burundi working in Mozambique,
John SSEKWEYAMA from Uganda working in DRC,
Bernard GACHURU from Kenya working in DRC,
Edison AKATUHURIRA from Uganda working in Rwanda,
Gilbert RUKUNDO from Rwanda working in Nigeria.
For many it was a great opportunity to see each other after many years of formation and mission. Roussel House, which was the venue of our meeting in Karen, Nairobi offered a perfect lieu of encounter, celebration and prayers. We were happy for the conducive atmosphere that we had for our session coupled with the hospitality and virtue of services rendered by the sisters of the Donum Dei Congregation working at the center.
Our stories as follows….
Our Session was divided into three parts namely:
Individual sharing of personal experiences,
inputs for personal growth and
input for pastoral and mission growth.
The first week was dedicated to individual sharing of missionary experiences. We started it with a recollection which was meant to help us to get in contact with ourselves and how we have lived our missionary vocations after these few years of missionary oath. The spiritual exercise was later followed by individual sharing. Confreres shared with confidence and trust the various experiences lived in mission placements. From various sharing, it came out clearly that the Lord has been with each one of us in various challenges and moments of joy.
With regards to inputs related to personal growth we had a wonderful talk on community life especially on how we can make our community life more meaningful as a community of care, prayer and forgiveness. There was also an elaborate talk on spiritual growth with the emphasis on being in touch with God who is at the center of our vocation. We benefited also from inputs on Burn out/Self care, addictions, affective and sexual maturity. Their objectives were to help us to be in touch with inner self in view of a better self-care and matured expression of our emotions and feelings.
With regards to mission related topics, we had inputs on Encounter and Dialogue, Justice and Peace and Integrity of Creation, Christianity and witchcraft, and finances. We were pleased that some of the talks were exposed by some resource persons of our Society. Besides various inputs received, we had moments of recreation and outings together visiting our community of Olchore in the heart of the Masai village surrounded by nature, peace and harmony. The welcome was just so tasteful thanks to Martin ONYANGO who welcomed us in a so beautiful and peaceful “white house”. We enjoyed also the company of many confreres working in Nairobi thanks to the social evening and super offered by the Provincial team of EAP. Thank you to our confreres of South B Parish for the invitation to share our faith with the Christians during a Eucharistic celebration concelebrated by all the participants of the sessions.
Moments of peace and self renewal
Taking our time to revisit our missionary experiences for the past few years has been a blessing to us. The experiences of pastoral fulfillment and challenges shared in all amount of confidentiality, the different inputs received during this period of ongoing formation have been some useful tools for personal growth and self renewal. We share in the joy of others, but also in the various experiences of sufferings, hurts, disappointments and resistance. It has been a period of discovery, discovery of God’s unconditional love towards us, the joy of having each other in the community as a blessing but also the desire to take up new challenges in order to grow and to help each other to grow. This has really helped us to look at ourselves, to awaken in us the spirit, to recharge our batteries for mission. It has made us to grow in love, forgiveness and patience. In fact, we discover more and more that there is no best community, no best Province and not even the best religious Society. We all live with love but also experiences of challenges which should help us to ask for forgiveness and for the grace to go on the path of Love and Encounter. Each story was unique and left us with some sense of relief and renewal.
In fact, it has been a period of a long journey of liberation for many of us. Liberation from frustrations and hurts which can cancel the thirst for God and the need to encounter the other in community. Liberation from the fear which we carry within ourselves, often unresolved from the past. Liberation from daily illusions we have about community life and the way we want it to be. It was three weeks led by the spirit to share our “stories” of human, spiritual, community, pastoral and every other form of formation as Missionaries of Africa which has been constant means to help us stay on the path. We treasure this time as we depart from each other.
In a nutshell, the whole session was presented in such a unique way that we don’t only wish to have such regular ongoing formation opportunities as invitation from Rome but also as important and necessarily programs receiving priorities in our Provinces.
In a way, this ongoing formation finds its basic meaning in the need to continually nourish and revitalize the grace of our missionary vocations. It’s never enough; the glass is neither full nor empty. This is why we must constantly stir up our missionary vocations, find renewed meaning each day as M.Afr and renew untiringly our mission of proclaiming the Gospel.
Above all, it has been an experience of sharing, listening and learning from each other. Therefore, we would like to express our gratitude to the Society for giving us this wonderful opportunity for personal growth and of self repairs. Thank you Olivier Soma for your support and listening qualities. Thank you Gille Efiyo for your availability and support. We felt that both of you really accompanied us- THANK YOU! And to all of you with whom we shared our joy and pains of our Missionary life and experiences during these three weeks, may the FIRE keep burning as we try to be sowers of prophetic hope for our brothers and sisters to whom we are sent. And may God help us to flourish where we are planted. Peace!
Kasisi Center in Zambia
From 2nd to 23rd July 2017
“God our father source of life, we thank you for the gift of our Founder to the African world and to the Church. Through his inspiration we cherish a message of faith, hope and love for all people to whom you send us” (the 28th General Chapter, 2016). It is very evident that God called us to work in his vineyard though unworthy we are. He called us from all corners of the earth to be his witnesses of faith, hope and love.
The General Council, through the office of ongoing formation, invites every year, missionaries of Africa in their 2nd term for a session on renewal. The Southern Africa Province (SAP) hosted the event at Kasisi, in Lusaka, Zambia, 2nd to 23rd July. The meeting took place in a nice and serene environment. Two facilitators were on board to journey with the participants, enhancing smooth running of the program: Bernard Ugeux (D.R Congo) and Timothee Bationo (Zambia). The meeting being a Society project, we came from all over. The participants were as follows: Bukelembe John (D.R Congo), Ekka Filiyanus (India), Haile Gazena (Ghana), Itaru John (Zambia), Kanto Hembram (D.R Congo), Kawama Virgilius (Nigeria), Kawisha Jones (South Africa), Kientga Joseph (D.R Congo), Konkobo Camille (Zambia), Meraba Philip (Malawi), Nana Daniel (Tanzania), Sawadogo Florent (Mozambique), Shehu Victor (Nigeria). We were all between 5 and 9 years of priesthood in the named countries of mission from 8 nationalities.
The idea behind such a meeting is to invite missionaries of Africa in the mission to come together and share their experiences in confidentiality. This gives them a platform to meet, discuss, encourage and learn from one another after years of missionary work. Some were even meeting for the first time. We started our meeting with a recollection in which we reflected on the encounter between God and Moses, “the burning bush” (Exodus 3: 1-15).
We, in our missionary life, strive to bring faith, hope and love to the people wherever we are planted. It is very evident that we selflessly render our services to God’s people who are entrusted to our care. In our attempt to serve them, we encounter joys and challenges. Our joys in service to God’s people have boosted our morale to move ahead courageously to work for the kingdom of God. It appeared very vividly in our sharing that challenges have never pulled us aback, rather have strengthened us even more to be radical witnesses of God’s mission, because in those challenges we have seen the hand of God. We have strong faith that God is journeying with us. No one regretted to be a Missionary of Africa.
It is true that when we share our difficulties of life, half of the problems are already alleviated. There were moments, while listening to the challenging experiences of confreres some of whom were emotional, later on got relieved. We cherish wholeheartedly the openness in the sharing of confreres who had total trust in the participants.
“Transparency never jeopardizes the life of human, truthfulness wins all the time” (Mahatma Gandhi). Transparent and truthful sharing about the challenging experiences of confreres, brought great encouragement to confreres, which prompted us to go ahead in order to fulfil the messianic vision of our founder Cardinal Lavigerie.
We also had time for inputs on issues related to our personal, human, pastoral and spiritual growth. The sessions gave us enough material for our missionary life. In the sessions, we tackled: Building strong relationships with all through our affectivity for an integral ministry, boundaries to avoid conflicts, Addictions and the dangers around them, pastoral ministry, the spirituality of the priest and leadership, community life, media, Justice and Peace, Encounter and Dialogue, and Finances.
Our Community life is in relationship with Christ. Let Christ be at the centre of our life. The following should be our guide in the way we live in our communities as Missionaries of Africa:
What aspects of community life has helped me to be fulfilled in missionary life since my ordination?
What aspects of community life did I find challenging since my ordination?
What kind of community life I aspire realistically?
These challenging questions must lead us to deeper reflection and sharing in our community life.
According to the nature of our vocation, media is regarded as means of evangelization. Nevertheless the dos and the don’ts of the media have to be respected at all time to avoid abuse.
In financial matters, it is important that the dignity and credibility of a priest is preserved. This will avoid denting his own reputation in the parish/institutions.The word of God states that “Spiritual leadership should oversee the treasury of the Lord’s house” (Neh 13:12-13), should be the basis and the guide of our attitudes towards the proper use of finances.
Time For Relaxation
The meeting was not only session, talk and work. We had opportunities to relax, recreate and refresh our minds and celebrate various birthdays and priesthood anniversaries. We visited the game park and the town. We also visited our two parishes within Lusaka. It was well appreciated by confreres and parishioners seeing the diversity of young Missionaries of Africa from all over the world for the Mission of God. As affirmed by some parishioners, our presence in their parishes strengthened their faith and gave them joy. We had a full day at FENZA (Faith and Encounter center Zambia). This was a good time for us to discover what the confreres are doing in the center. We ended the day with a fraternal meal with confreres of the sector and novices on their way to stage in their various countries. On the 15th of July, we joined the Catholic Church in Zambia for the celebration of the 125 years of Catholic faith. It was a great moment for us Missionaries of Africa, being the founding missionaries of Catholicism in Zambia. Our presence was indeed appreciated.
“Be not only United but One!”…
… our founder Cardinal Lavigerie insisted on this principle. We, the present missionary disciples of Jesus Christ, inspired by the teaching of our founder should strive to live these words. The spirit of oneness was very much felt by each one of us, as our Superior General, Provincial of SAP and the Archbishop of Lusaka came and shared their joys and challenges with us.
We sincerely appreciate the General Council for granting us this opportunity in which we met and shared our missionary lives and experiences. In a similar way, we thank our various Provincials of our mission provinces for making it possible for us to attend this important meeting. We extend our gratitude to the hosting Provincial, the organizers, the animators and the participants of the meeting.
Here is an excellent dossier on the Church in Africa produced in French by the Magazine Jeune Afrique. We publish it because we think it is of great interest to all the confreres. Please note that for copyright reasons we reserve it only for the Missionaries of Africa and students, as if the journal was in our library. Please do not publish it beyond this circle. The article is worth the language effort !