Southern Africa Province (SAP) stagiaires’ meeting in Lusaka

‘No pain no gain’, ‘no sacrifice no opportunity’ and ‘no discipline no results’

On the 26th February 2024, the Stagiaires of the Southern Africa Province (SAP) convened at FENZA (Faith and Encounter Centre Zambia) in Lusaka, Zambia for a one-week meeting. It was a gathering of sharing stage experiences in their different communities and apostolates. During the opening Mass, the main celebrant invited the Stagiaires to reflect on their role in the apostolate. He insisted that his principle of no pain no gain, no sacrifice no opportunity, no discipline no results, has guided him throughout his years as a missionary. Fr. Martin Onyango energized the Stagiaires with his touching sermon.

Eight stagiaires were from the Malawi Sector, three from the Mozambique Sector and twelve from the Zambia Sector. The sharing, guided by Fr. Martin Onyango M.Afr. and Fr. Marcellin Mubalama M.Afr., was enriching. The meeting began with welcoming remarks from Fr. Benjamin Itungabose M.Afr., the Sector Delegate of Zambia. He encouraged the Stagiaires to be creative and innovative to meet the demands of the apostolate.  Groups according to sectors were formed for sharing. Later, the entire group met to listen to a report from each group.

The Stagiaires shared the common joy of apostolic zeal. They all witnessed to have received a warm welcome from the people in their places of apostolate. “The Christians are so good; they are supportive and encouraging. Despite the language challenges, they understand and welcome us with joy”, they remarked. Many of the Stagiaires reported how they ride hundreds of kilometers to reach various outstations crossing rivers, forests, valleys and hills. This has added to their zeal towards becoming Missionaries of Africa.

However, there was a general complaint about conflicts in their host communities. Stagiaires continue to be victims of unstable communities with conflicts, which are having a bad impact on them. “We notice conflicts brought about by the fact that confreres come from different countries with their own stereotypes and prejudices”, they said. “Therefore, all should be aware of this and steps should be taken to combat such ‘viruses’ eating up our communities”, they added.

Your vocation must be rooted in Jesus Christ, the one we serve

The Provincial of SAP shared with the Stagiaires about the current financial situation of the Society of the Missionaries of Africa. He commended the efforts they make in their various communities to contribute towards the running of their communities and cutting down costs. He agreed with sadness that in almost all the Provinces of the Society, there have been some scandals involving money. The Provincial and Sector leaders are setting up ways to end these problems. The Provincial concluded with words of hope. “We are setting up different projects in order to ensure self-sustainability of our Province. We currently have assets amounting to lots of money that has been invested, but we have less cash. We do all we can to ensure transparency and accountability of what we own as a Province”. He advised the Stagiaires that their determination to pursue their vocation must not depend on the financial situation of the Society, but rather be rooted in Jesus Christ, the one they serve.

The Stagiaires had an outing and visited the new provincial house in IBEX. On the closing day there was an open forum, which included the suggestions Stagiaires themselves raised to improve the apostolic experience period. For example, they proposed that the members of the receiving communities should consider a self-introduction once the Stagiaire has been welcomed. They also requested the leaders of the Province and Sectors to write letters of appointment and clarify the communication channels with the Stagiaires while still in the spiritual year.

They ended this meeting by extending thanks to the Provincial for allowing the meeting to take place. “Despite all the financial challenges the Society is facing, you extended your solidarity an extra mile and allowed us to meet. A meeting like this kills multiple birds with one stone. It strengthens our bonds, ensures that we learn from one another and adds morale to our vocation as missionaries”, their representative said. He added, “we thank you endlessly and wish you all God’s Blessings.”

By: Justus Wednesday, Stagiaire

CML in Kigali – Rwanda

Meeting of Missionary and Vocation Animators of the Society of the Missionaries of Africa

CML in Kigali – Rwanda from the 27th to the 31st of March 2023

The meeting of the missionary and vocation animators of the Society of the Missionaries of Africa brought together 29 participants from all provinces and sections of the Society. It started on Sunday the 26th of March 2023 in the evening with an introduction from Fr. Leo Laurence, Assistant General in charge of initial formation. Fr. Leo Laurence linked missionary and vocation animation with the central theme of the 2022 Chapter, that is “Mission as Prophetic Witness” which must be inculcated in our aspirants right from the beginning of their contact with us so as to enable them to become prophetic witness through their missionary ministry. The meeting was organized by Fr. Robert Tebri, the secretary of initial formation and was moderated by Fr. Denis Palm.

The next day, 27th of March, was mainly consecrated to the presentation of reports from all the provinces and sections on missionary and vocation animation, as well as the reports of the pre-first phase formation houses. These reports brought out the diversity in all our engagements as well as the unity in what we do at the level of our missionary Society. We shared our enriching and challenging experiences and tried to learn from one another. That led us to a series of questions that need to be clarified. It was a day of fruitful exchange in view of finding a common ground in our missionary and vocation animation, lived in a brotherly climate where everyone could express himself freely. On 28th of March, Fr. Bernard Uguex gave a session on clericalism and its impact in the society today. After the session, the participants went into small groups for reflection and sharing. The rich group sharing was then exchanged in the plenary in the afternoon and recommendations were made.

On 29th of March, we had a video conference with the Treasurer General of the Society of the Missionaries of Africa, Fr. John Itaru, on “Vocation – Missionary Promotion and Finances”. Fr. Itaru tackled the subject from a double angle: a gift and a challenge. The talk provoked a number of questions to which Fr. John responded. After the talk, we went into small groups for further discussion and deliberations.

On 30th of March, the question of brother formation was discussed and recommendations were made to the General Council. On 31st of March, the last day was consecrated to bringing out recommendations to the General Council and putting together orientations and guidelines for missionary and vocation animation in the Society. The vocation and missionary animators had so many questions concerning their duties and responsibilities which were clarified using Vademecum for initial formation. The meeting ended on 31st of March evening.

We thank God and the Society for the rich experience of the meeting in Kigali which empowered the vocation and missionary animators in bearing good fruits for the society.

Palm Denis & Leo Laurence

 

Statistics of Students

Statistics of students in October 2020

You will find here the statistics of the 460 Missionaries of Africa students according to their countries of origin (in ordinate) and their formation centres (in abscissa).

There are 200 students in 11 FIRST PHASE formation centres (Philosophy studies over a period of 3 years):

    1.  Jinja in Uganda (EAP)
    2.  Ruzizi in DR Congo (PAC)
    3.  Kinshasa in DR Congo (PAC)
    4. Adigrat in Ethiopia (EPO)
    5.  Balaka in Malawi (SAP)
    6.  Lublin in Poland (PEP)
    7.  Guadalajara in Mexico (AMS)
    8. Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso (PAO)
    9. Ejisu in Ghana (GhN)
    10. Bangalore in India (SOA)
    11. Cebu in the Philippines (SOA)

There are 60 students in 3 SECOND PHASE centres for the one year “Spiritual Year” (formerly “Noviciates”):

    1. Arusha in Kenya
    2. Bobo-Dioulasso in Burkina Faso
    3. Kasama in Zambia

There are 57 students in the THIRD PHASE (“stage” (traineeship)) in many countries around the world.

There are 143 students in 5 FOURTH PHASE formation centres (Theological studies):

    1. Limete / Kinshasa in DR Congo
    2. Merrivale in South Africa
    3. Nairobi in Kenya
    4. Abidjan in Ivory Coast
    5. Jerusalem in Israël / Palestine 

These statistics can also be found under Formation > Statistics.

Celebrations in Merrivale

Celebrations in Merrivale

We are happy that on 6th June 2020 our five brothers Jallet Thomas Miguel (Moz), Twizere Emery (DRC), Hussen Elias Abdi (Eth), Ouedraogo Yewoaya Christian (Bfa), and Rioba James (Ken) made their final commitment to the society and were ordained deacons in the service of the Church. We are grateful to Coadjutor Archbishop Abel Gabuza who ordained our brothers irrespective of the Covid 19 pandemic. We thank Fr. Gordejuela E. Jose-Manuel who received the oath of our brothers in the name of Fr. Phiri Felix, the Provincial of SAP. Fr. Manuel, who came to Merrivale for auditing our accounts, unfortunately was forced to stay in South Africa because of the lock down. We are happy to have him here. We thank all the formators and the brothers who participated in the ceremony with immense joy and happiness. The celebration was very simple but meaningful. The newly ordained deacons wore African shirts depicting the Missionaries of Africa’s simple lifestyle. All in all, it was a grace filled celebration. Please keep them in your prayers as they continue their journey to priesthood. The celebration was live-telecasted through the Missionaries of Africa Merrivale Formation House Facebook account and around 150 people followed it from around 10 countries. Watch below the movie as broadcasted. 

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.

 
Google Photos Refresh Token invalid. Please authenticate from Photonic → Authentication.
Error encountered during authentication:
{
  "error": "invalid_grant",
  "error_description": "Bad Request"
}
See here for documentation.

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”