Oath and Diaconate in Merrivale

It is in Saint Joseph’s Parish, in Howick, that 5 students of Merrivale became Missionaries of Africa by pronouncing their solemn missionary oath in the presence of Fr. Francis Barnes, first assistant of the superior general.

They are from left to right:

  • Bimal Lakra, from India
  • Habtamu Aloto, from Ethiopia
  • Guélord Mahongole, from DR Congo
  • Alain Sossou, from Ivory Coast
  • Joseph Zunguluka, from DR Congo

On the same day, they were ordained deacons from the hands of our confrere Jan De Groef, bishop of Bethlehem (South Africa).

Following the photos, you will find the text of the homily pronounced by Francis Barnes on that occasion.

I would like to address these few words to you Bimal, Guelord, Joseph, Habtamu and Alain. Through the oath you have taken today you have consecrated yourselves until death to the Church’s mission in Africa and you have promised fidelity and obedience to the apostolic life as well as swearing to observe celibacy for the sake of the kingdom.

Wow! That is quite something and in today’s world you would have to either be out of your mind or be truly of a sound and discerned mind to add your signature to such a document. I presume that you are all truly of sound mind. The oath we take does not mention poverty or simple lifestyle as we call it – for it is supposed to be part of our specific identity. We are not religious and so we don’t take vows and yet the oath is surely just as binding. I would dare to say that in today’s world such an oath is more than controversial even counter-cultural. Celibacy in today’s world where everything is hypersexualised is surely counter cultural and so often can become for many a source of great tension and stress or, worse still scandal. What about obedience then in a hedonistic world where we want to celebrate the freedom to do, to say and be whatever we want? And fidelity? Yes, it takes courage and hard work to be faithful to the promises we make and we know just how easy it is to stray from the path we have desired and chosen. Then there is simple lifestyle though not mentioned in the oath we take it as expected of us. Yet so many of us will be tempted along the way by the lure of money and be caught up in our desire for more comfort and ease in our ministry. Yes, the oath is definitely counter cultural but then so is discipleship as it always has been.

Are we worthy of such a calling, are we capable of such a calling? – most likely not and yet despite our own frailty and powerlessness, the love of God is able to break forth into our lives with its transforming power. Hopefully, today you are the ones who choose not to walk the path of power but the path of powerlessness, who choose not the road of success but the road of servanthood. With the grace of God, you will choose willingly not to walk the wide road of praise and popularity but the narrow one of giving oneself so that others might have life in abundance. Know that it will mean often accepting to walk into darkness, to take risks, to walk into the unknown and to accept all the suffering that such a choice entails.

Yes, you and I, today’s disciples know we are fragile human beings; we don’t have all the answers and yet hopefully we allow ourselves to become instruments in the hand of God; hopefully like children we will have a spirit of sheer receptivity, utter dependence and a radical reliance that does not come from ourselves but from the spirit of Jesus.

Therefore, deep down we know that:

  • if we were to live in imitation of Jesus
  • if we dared move beyond our self-concern
  • if we truly desire to reach out in compassion to all our brothers and sisters no matter whom they are  
  • if we were so counter cultural that we no longer thirsted for status, power or possessions

then we would indeed transform this little Society of ours and even the world and the parish communities where we serve.

The world doesn’t need more dogmas and creeds– the world needs maybe just a handful of brave disciples who would be as salt and light- who by the authenticity of their commitment and generosity would be a spectacular sign of the transforming power of the gospel, the transforming power of love.

Fidelity in the final analysis is all about walking the road we have chosen with the Lord, it is our life poured out so that others might have life and it is about struggling if we have to until the very end.

So with you I praise the Lord for this wonderful missionary vocation that is yours. I praise the Lord for the beautiful gift of yourselves to our Society and to Africa. And we praise the Lord for your families and friends who have and are very much part of this wonderful calling that is yours.

Francis Barnes M.Afr.

Ululation and Jubilation in Wa: Francis Xavier and Peter Claver Ordained Priests

Ululation and jubilation ringing through St Andrew’s Cathedral of Wa on Saturday 25th August 2018 expressed the meaning of the priestly ordination of our two confreres Francis Xavier Angkosaala and Peter Claver Kogh together with five other ordinands for the diocese of Wa. This was the joy of the Christian Community to have these seven men responding joyfully to the call of God to proclaim the Gospel of joy to all nations. It was raining cats and dogs and yet people came in their numbers that the latecomers struggled to find a place to sit.

Continue reading “Ululation and Jubilation in Wa: Francis Xavier and Peter Claver Ordained Priests”

Reflecting on formation

In the wake of the latest splashes from the United States, Stéphane Joulain has posted on Facebook some of his thoughts on the training of priests for the 21st century. As many of us are not Facebook enthusiasts, I reproduce this post here.

The formation of future priests is certainly one of the important places of the reform that Pope Francis could undertake. But first of all, we must agree in the Church on which face of the Church do we want and which ministries for this Church. The priests will have to find their right place there. Continue reading “Reflecting on formation”

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

Ordination of Dominic Kapatamoyo

On the 7th of July, the parish of Chezi in Malawi witnessed an unforgettable event as our own confrere Dominic Kapatamoyo was ordained a priest in this parish. All the roads led to Chezi parish on that day. There was a big crowd of people present to witness this memorable event as that was the first of its kind in the parish. The Lavigerie family comprising of Missionaries of Africa, Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of African, and our students in formation were present in their numbers to pray with and support Dominic Kapatamoyo. The other religious from different congregations, diocesan priests and representatives of other religious denominations, family members and friends of our confrere, as well parishioners graced the occasion. Also present were the ordaining bishop Tarsizio G. Ziyaye, Archbishop of Lilongwe and our confrere Bishop Emeritus Remy Sainte-Marie.

During his homily, Bishop Tarsizio affirmed that a priest is another Christ, who is chosen among the people and sent out to serve, console, preach, and baptise of the people of God. Teaching the people to know what the Kingdom of God entails. He agreed with Cardinal Lavigerie’s invitation to his Missionaries “to be apostles nothing but apostles”. The Bishop said a priest is to help others become apostles and that being apostles should become our being.

Ending his homily, the Bishop invited all to pray for the priest to be ordained, that the Lord may give him all the graces that he needs. Also, to pray that we may get many more Priests, Sisters and Brothers to serve the Church, since the harvest is rich but the labourers few.

Later on in an interview, the Bishop said he is touched by the fact that Dominic is the son of one of the long serving catechists of Chezi parish, Mr. Kapatamoyo. He was also happy that Dominic was ordained as priest in the Congregation of the Missionaries of Africa, adding that, “they are like our parents” since they were the first missionaries to bring the gospel to the Archdiocese of Lilongwe. He was happy about the good organisation of the event and active participation of the people, seeing it as a golden opportunity for vocation promotion.

Looking at the event, the Provincial Delegate Fr. Michel Sanou expressed his gratitude to the Christians and parishioners of Chezi for the good organisation. He expressed so much joy as to see the joy of the people especially the parents of Dominic as they gave their son to the Catholic Church. As Dominic comes from a place where there are only missionaries, the Delegate saw that as something remarkable and a challenge to other youth to give themselves to the mission too.

At the end of the Mass, the Provincial emphasised the missionary nature of our work as Missionaries of Africa, saying that like the confreres working in Chezi Parish, Dominic will mostly be working away from his home parish. On that note, he announced that the newly ordained priest is sent to Mingana, in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where he spent two years for pastoral training during his initial formation.

In an interview, the Provincial Fr. Felix Phiri did not only express his joy at how well the celebration was organised and well attended. According to him, the presence of others from the protestant churches, shows a sense of solidarity among the Christians of different denominations.

The Provincial also saw the event in the sense of the 150th Anniversary celebrations, which is a visible fruit of the work of the Missionaries of Africa as Dominic is from Chezi parish, which has been under the care of the Missionaries of Africa since its beginning.

Fr. Felix remarked how the work and faith of Dominic’s father as a Catechist has been a pillar for Dominic’s vocation journey, sustained him throughout his years of initial formation. The Provincial expressed hope of getting many more vocations from the parish to join the Missionaries of Africa, with the support of the confreres in Chezi parish.

Talking with the newly ordained priest, Fr. Dominic filled with joy expressed his gratitude to God for the gift of his priestly ordination, seeing it as a humbling honour. He was impressed by the sacrifices the parishioners, confreres, family and friends, among others made since December 2017 to ensure the success of the event. He was also overjoyed by the presence of some many people, two bishops, friends from Zimbabwe, France, Ireland and Kenya, confreres, priests, sisters and brothers, and parishioners to witness his ordination. For Dominic, the presence of all these people from far and near is a sign of the Church’s unity. In a sense of gratitude, he asked God to be with him in his priestly calling.

In short, the ordination of Fr. Dominic was for us the Missionaries of Africa, a time of coming together to support, pray with and thank the Lord for the vocation of Fr. Dominic. It also served as a means of vocation promotion as a lot of us were present in our Ganduras. It also became for the parish of Chezi a moment of working together to support and pray for and with their own son. For the parents of Fr. Dominic, the celebration was prayers answered, as they have been accompanying their son with prayers since he started his formation with the Missionaries of Africa. As Missionaries of Africa, we cannot but join our confrere in thanking God for his calling, and also in thanking all those who have supported us before and during the organisation of this ordination. May God richly reward you all for the support rendered to us to make Dominic’s ordination a success.

Vitus Danaa Abobo, M.Afr.
Communications SAP

 
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Priestly ordination of Robert Kubai Muthamia, 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

PAO : Gathering of stagiaires

The meeting of PAO ‘stagiaires’ took place from 17 to 23 April 2018 in Bobo-Dioulasso. It was attended by 19 ‘stagiaires’ and two facilitators, Fathers Delphin Nyembo Mabaka and Pawel Hulecki. The arrival of the ‘stagiaires’ and the facilitators went as planned. The organization chart of the meeting included a morning of recollection, various sharing of ‘stage’ experience, a visit to a site in Sindou, the visit of the Samagan Novitiate and the renewal of the declaration of intent.

The meeting began with a recollection preached by Father Jean-Claude Kaburame. Its main theme was: To new wine, new wineskins. This allowed the participants to return to the source of their mission and their commitments in the Church. An invitation to join the Body of Christ, to become a light body with Christ and in the Spirit. An invitation to work in the vineyard of the Lord, to earn bread. The recollection was closed by a Eucharistic celebration.

The rest of the meeting was devoted to the sharing of ‘stage’ experiences. Overall, it turned out that everyone, as far as he was concerned, could detect the roses and thorns of his experience that could be in community as well as outside of it. However, grace has abounded in everything. And as all the experiences contribute to our formation, all is good for the one who loves God.

After that, the visit to Sindou had many surprises in store. We were welcomed into the community of the Missionaries of Africa, but the actual visit began the next day. The site of the caves in Douna bathed us in wonder, with the view of the peaks and the nature. We were about to build three tents… Coming out of the caves, we had a good time and a reunion at the Samagan Novitiate.

Finally, on Sunday the 22nd, nine ‘stagiaires’ from the second year of ‘stage’ renewed their declarations of intent during a Eucharistic celebration presided over by the PAO Provincial Assistant, Father Delphin Nyembo. During the meal, we had a nice surprise. The Archbishop of the Diocese of Bobo-Dioulasso, Mgr. Paul Ouedraogo, visited us. Everything went very well, under the influence of the Spirit.

All’s well that ends well, as they say. After this precious time of meeting, the students of the PAO expressed their joy of being able to meet, to share, to gather around the only Master. May our Society live.

Bobo-Dioulasso, 22nd Avril 2018
Ferdinand CITO, ‘Stagiair’ MAfr.

 
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Photos: Pawel Hulecki

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Meeting of stagiaires in the Province of Europe

“Have an esprit de corps,” Lavigerie told us. One of the challenges we face in everyday life is the mutual support of our joys and sorrows. Ah ! If we were not only united but one; is it not the wish of every human being in his social, religious and even political life? At our level of formation with the Missionaries of Africa, this mutual support was concretized by a meeting of the stagiaires of the Province of Europe and their spiritual companions. Six members took part : Georges Jacques (Provincial Assistant and Responsible of the stagiaires within the province), Bernard Delay (stagiaires’ coordinator in the sector of France), Jesus Zubiria (Provincial Delegate and stagiaires’ coordinator in the sector of Spain), Jonas Yamba (2nd year of stage in Spain / Roquetas de mar), Moses Ariho (1st year of stage in France / Marseille) and Emile Kimembe (1st year of stage France / Toulouse). This meeting took place in Madrid from the 4th to the 6th April 2018 and in comported three parts. First a time of prayer, then a time of sharing of our apostolic experiences and finally a time of relaxation. What is the impact of the cultures of our places of stage on our spiritual, social and apostolic life? What did we learn? How were we welcomed in our sectors and communities? What are the prospects for the future? This was, by and large, the major questions of our meeting. This article will just give a general view. First we will briefly talk about the reception in the community. Then we will talk about our interviews. And finally we will talk about our time of relaxation.

It is a very strong and remarkable element when one arrives in the community of Nuestra Senora De Africa: a sense of reception almost infinite. A warm attitude, a spirit of sharing missionary experiences, a good sense of humor, a communal joy that becomes contagious, a spirit of the body during community services, etc. made our stay not only peaceful but also an encouragement in our vocational journey. One would think we are in the presence of the authors of this word: “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13-35). Yes, we saw and believed. It would be ungrateful not to say thank you to the entire community.

Our meeting began on the morning of April 4th with a recollection on the theme: “managing my freedom”. Led by Georges Jacques, this time of reflection reminded us of Jesus’ freedom, which is submitted to the obedience of his Father’s will. Since the dawn of humanity, he said, man had difficulties managing his freedom. Far from being a poisoned gift of God to men, freedom is a great sign of trust and love. To be free is not to do what I want, but to want what I do, one says! To be free is to recognize myself as a limited being and thus make the choice of complementarity while respecting the differences. On a personal level, we were reminded that our freedom is at the heart of our limits. So to recognize and love them seems an asset in our life.

No time to waste ! The afternoon of the same day was therefore dedicated to a global presentation first of the Sectors of Spain and France, then of the Province of Europe and finally to the sharing of our apostolic experiences, which would end in the afternoon of April 5th. It was a time for mutual listening, support and enrichment. It was a highlight for us! Is there anything more wonderful than a free, sincere and rich exchange! Is there any encouraging time more touching than the sharing of the various difficulties encountered because of social, climatic, linguistic change for some of us! Yes, we felt very comforted by the sharing of one and the other. In addition, we also talked about some practical points regarding our training. As an illustration: the stage report, the declaration of intent, the annual retreat and the local holidays.

In the stadium of the Real of Madrid

The time of relaxation has not been forgotten. We had the opportunity to visit the Cathedral of Madrid, the Royal Palace, the Santiago Bernabéu stadium of Real Madrid, and in a special way the Missionaries of Africa project Africa Fondacion Sur. To congratulate us for this beautiful time lived together, a dinner party was at the rendez-vous at the Ham Museum.

A joy lived and shared with one’s peers intensifies, and a difficulty experienced and shared with one’s contemporaries is softened, they say. This meeting of stagiaires organized within the Province in our favor brought us great joy and full satisfaction. We will remember the experiences of each one of us because they carry great wealth. We will remember that trust that characterized us. We will remember the advice of our spiritual companions. We will remember this beautiful welcome in the community. Not everything was said, but at least everything remains etched in our hearts. Does not St. John say, “Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written. “ (John 21:25)

Jonas YAMBA, Moses ARIHO and Emile KIMEMBE