White Fathers mark 150 years

White Fathers mark 150 years

By Nelson Kiva in NEW VISION (December 9, 2019)

The leading Ugandan Newspaper “NEW VISION” covered both the great celebration in Namugongo and the pilgrimage which preceded the feast.

Here is an article from Nelson Kiva, of NEW VISION, which appeared in the edition of the Newspaper on Monday 9th December.

Hundreds of missionaries from different parts of the world yesterday thronged Uganda Martyrs Shrine, Namugongo to mark 150 years of African evangelisation. This was in honour of the Uganda Martyrs.

The first Catholic missionaries to come to Uganda belonged to the White Fathers. They were Fr Simeon Lourdel popularly known as Mapeera and Brother Delmas Amans (Amansi), who taught religion to the 22 Uganda Catholic Martyrs.

The Society of the Missionaries of Africa (White Fathers) and the Congregation of the Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Africa (White Sisters) are held in high esteem across Africa, for not only helping in evangelisation, but also their support for the education and health sectors.

The White Fathers and White Sisters missionary movements originated in 1869 when Cardinal Charles of Lavigerie, the Archbishop of Algiers in North Africa, called young men and women to form the two societies. The missionaries hailed from France and England.

The superior general of the White Fathers, Fr Stanley Lubungo, said the Uganda Martyrs are key, since they obeyed the word of God. “They did not forsake God and this makes them a blessing and a key pillar of faith,” he said. “They lit the candle and it is us to carry it forward by furthering the gospel,” he added.

Sr Carmen Sammut, the superior general of the Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Africa, said: “We thank God for the Uganda Martyrs and for the joy many men and women and children who on this continent have given their lives to Christ and for others.”

Apostolic Nuncio to Uganda, Luigi Bianco, the chief celebrant of the Mass to thank God for the 150-year milestone, said the Church in Uganda had special reason for deep gratitude, because the two missionary institutes were the pioneers in bringing the good news to the country.

“Indeed, it is a moment to thank God for many missionaries, fathers, brothers and sisters, who dedicated their lives to the proclamation of the gospel in Africa and other continents and at the service of the human promotion of the people,” he said.

“The anniversary offers a good example and inspiration that nobody is excluded from the Church Mission,” he added.

“Even Pope Francis invites the Church to rediscover its fruitfulness in the joy of mission and to be witnesses of the love of God for everyone.
The Archbishop of Kampala, Dr Cyprian Kizito Lwanga, said: “When I consider the abundant fruits of the missionaries, I am prompted to ponder a number of questions. For instance, Where would we be if you were not founded? How would Africa be without your missionary activities and commitments? How would Uganda be without the miracle of the Uganda Martyrs?” He said the Uganda Martyrs were the first fruits of the evangelism work in Uganda.

The head of the Catholic laity of Uganda, Gervase Ndyanabo, said the laity should think about the sacrifices the missionaries made, including putting their lives on the line for the sake of evangelisation.

“We, therefore, join the rest in praising God for them. We shall forever be grateful to God for the true joy we were given through them,” he said.

President Yoweri Museveni, who was represented by finance minister Matia Kasaija, told religious leaders that the solution to the evils of corruption and senseless killings, was in joint efforts to deal with the growing trends of immorality in the country.

The Kabaka of Buganda, Ronald Muwenda Mutebi, in his message paid homage to the missionaries, saying Uganda and Africa were proud of them for producing the first African bishop in the modern times.

Bishop Joseph Nakabale Kiwanuka, was consecrated in 1939. The Kabaka, who was represented by Prince David Golooba, said this anchored the Catholic Church in Uganda.


President Yoweri Museveni reminded the Church that its role to fight immorality was immense, saying: “Evils such as corruption and senseless killings are an indication of bad perception, lack of honesty and immorality in our people.”

Read online the coverage of the same NEW VISION newspaper on the “pilgrimage on the footsteps of our predecessors”.

Kampala Closing Mass

Jubilee Year Closing Celebration in Namugongo

In almost all provinces, sections and sectors, the Jubilee Year has come to an end. A time to celebrate, to thank God and count the graces that will take us forward to continue the Mission with the charisms which are ours. 

Many photos of the various celebrations were posted on Facebook or circulated by email or by WhatsApp. These are coming late due to poor Internet Connection in Namugongo, Uganda, where the official closing of the Jubilee Year took place. They come mainly from Brother Vitus Abobo, but I suspect he also collected photos from other photographs. 

It is more difficult to give an account of what happened for your servant was not in Namugongo and did not receive anything from those who had the chance to be there. But the photos themselves give a beautiful account of the celebration.

Sharing of Sister Rosetta Rossi, msola

Sharing of Sister Rosetta Rossi, msola

Sister Rosetta Rossi is a missionary sister of Our Lady of Africa (White Sister) who has worked for many years, especially in Burundi. As part of the Roman conferences marking the 150th anniversary of the foundations of our two missionary institutes, Sister Rosetta agreed to give her testimony as a missionary. This was done in French during a “Roman conference” on the 6th November 2019.

Jubilee Climax in Ghana Nigeria

Jubilee Climax in Ghana Nigeria

At the end of the year long celebration of our 150th anniversary of fondation, the province of Ghana Nigeria had a Climax Celebration on the 26th October in the Cathedral of Our Lady of Annunciation in Tamale (Ghana). For the occasion, they had edited a brochure with the highlights of all that happened in the province during the year’s celebration. You will enjoy going through this brochure, which you can open following this link.

Pilgrimage to Bayonne

Pilgrimage to Bayonne

Sunday, 20th October, 8 am, the older confreres of the EHPAD of Billère should have barely started their day and yet, while it was still dark, a good twenty of them rushed into a bus that would take them to the very origins of our foundation, the birthplace of Charles Martial Allemand Lavigerie. It was there that he was born, there that he grew up, there that he was baptized, then educated, before leaving, at the age of 17, for Paris to complete the minor and major seminary.

Patrick Bataille, the Delegate Provincial of France, and his assistant, Bernard Lefebvre, had come from Paris especially to celebrate this penultimate French event of the Jubilee Year. The closing Mass will be held later this year around the community of Toulouse.

They are the most valid of our EHPAD confreres who had registered. Yet the day would not have been possible without the support of about twenty HBB volunteers (Basque-Béarnaise Hospitality) who helped them all day long to get on and off the bus and to get around during the various stops of the pilgrimage.

First stop, Bayonne Cathedral. The local bishop, Father-Bishop Marc Aillet, was waiting for us to celebrate World Mission Day 2019. During his homily, the Father-Bishop first greeted the evangelization effort of the Missionaries of Africa, men and women who dedicated their lives to evangelizing what he calls the Continent of Hope, because it is in Africa that the youth of the world are found and that the Church knows the greatest expansion. He then reminded us that every baptized person must take ownership of Christ’s mandate and radiate faith wherever he/she is. And with the help of the ubiquitous social media, Mission Ad Gentes is here, at our doorstep! His homily was punctuated by a key sentence from today’s Gospel: “When the son of man comes, will he find faith in hearts? »

The Mass was followed by an aperitif in the beautiful cloister of the cathedral and a meal at the diocesan centre. After lunch, visit to the statue of Lavigerie, erected in 1909 on the “Place du Réduit”, to honour this local child who had become extremely popular.

On the other side of the bridge over the Ardour, stop at the Church of the Holy Spirit where the cardinal was baptized on the 5th of November 1825, only 5 days after his birth. The priest in charge of the church was waiting for us to tell us the story of this small Gothic-style church, which was elevated to the rank of a collegiate church by Louis XI at the end of the 15th century. After praying Vespers, we gathered around the baptistery.

We got back in the bus that took us to the Saint-Etienne cemetery where we saw the family vault of the Lavigerie family, and especially the tomb of the Cardinal’s parents, restored in 1955.

The last resort, the neighbourhood of the “Domaine de Huire”, of which a piece of the Cardinal’s birthplace still exists. It is impressive to step on the ground that the Cardinal stepped on in his tender years. It was then time to get back on the road to Billère where we arrived shortly after 7pm. It was a very beautiful day blessed by God who, in fact, spoiled us with intermittent rains.

Philippe Docq, M.Afr.

You will find below an interactive map with the different places we visited. Then some pictures of the day. And after the photos, an article published in 1992 in Nuntiuncula (Belgium Sector) on the history of Cardinal Lavigerie’s childhood.

(Appendix to “Nuntiuncula” nr 495, September 1992)

On the occasion of the centenary of the Cardinal’s death, many memories were evoked.

In general, we talked, as it should have been, about the size of his enterprises and his multifaceted activity. However, it may also be appropriate to mention for a moment his family and his Youth.

Indeed, it is quite difficult for us to picture our Founder at home or at school… 

This picture depicts Cardinal Lavigerie’s birthplace and underneath it reads this text: « This house is part of the “Domaine de Huire”, near Bayonne, and bears its name. »

The original of this drawing no longer exists, but this is a photo taken on the original. This drawing was probably in this house in Huire, when it was occupied and destroyed during the 1940-1945 war. This may have been the work of Mr Julien, the Cardinal’s uncle by his marriage on 29 October 1832 to Louise Latrilhe, his mother’s sister. He was a quite famous painter and engraver in the 19th century.

The main house in the middle was inhabited by Mr Latrilhe, the Cardinal’s maternal grandfather. In 1947, the White Sisters bought this house, which had undergone many modifications between 1832 and 1947… It was enlarged several times to house a community of more than 50 sisters, but the old part has not changed much on the outside. The Cardinal’s parents stayed in the house with the tower on the right.

According to tradition Charles Lavigerie was born in the room upstairs in the tower. It is not known what happened to this house between 1834 and 1923, when it was the coachman’s residence.

She no longer belongs to the White Sisters anymore.

Huire is located in the commune of St Esprit, in the St Bernard district. In the Cardinal’s time, this locality was part (since the Revolution) of the department of the Landes and the diocese of Dax. It was only attached to the diocese of Bayonne and the department of the Pyrénées Atlantiques in 1857.

The Huire estate, in one piece, included about 22 hectares of farmland and about 3 hectares of rush land for grazing. It was composed of:

    1. A main house, called “Grand Huire”, with its enclosure, two large gardens (vegetable and fruit garden), a vine in full production, an orchard and a meadow. In addition, there were three barns, a wine press, a stable, a shed and a cattle yard.
    2. A small winegrower’s house.
    3. Two tenant farms: “Petit Huire” and “Broc” each with a house, a barn, a cattle yard and a garden.
    4. Another mansion, with grove and adjoining garden (occupied by the Lavigerie family).

The Cardinal’s maternal grandfather bought the Huire Estate from Mr Bisconty, Director of the Navy’s Food Department, on the 14th of May 1813. But it seems that he did not settle in Huire with his family (six girls and a boy) until 1819 or 1820. Shortly after the purchase of the property, English troops (allied to the Spanish at war with France) had invested Bayonne. On the 14th April 1814, the French defenders of the citadel (above Huire) made an attack and fought in Huire, Broc, Chanda, the glass factory of St Bernard and the convent of St Bernard.

A corvette and nine French gunboats bombed Huire, Chanda and the convent of St Bernard.

It was in the “Maison Latrilhe” that a suspension of arms between the belligerents was signed on the 27 April 1814. A new convention lifted the blockade of Bayonne on the 5th of May 1814 (following the fall of the Empire and the abdication of Napoleon).

Pierre Latrilhe (I), born in 1719 in Vialer (30km N.E. from Pau) married Marie Brascon (or Brascoun) in Pau on the 6th May 1761. He was a “master foundryman” at the “Monnaie de Bayonne” (Bayonne Treasury) in 1767. In 1771 he was called “Sieur” Pierre Latrilhe. The Treasury played a considerable role under the Ancien Régime, as few cities had the privilege of coining coins. Bayonne had had this right for four centuries. The employees of the Treasury formed a special category among Bayonne’s craftsmen and bourgeois. Peter I died on February 20, 1800.

The first child of the Latrilhe-Brascon family, born in 1764, was also named Pierre. To distinguish him from his father and two of his brothers who bore the same first name, he is referred to as Peter II. This Latrilhe-Brascon home had ten known children: eight boys (five of whom lived only a few days or months) and two girls. One of them, Catherine Louise, now Mrs. Le Mosquet, played a major role in the Latrilhe family and played an important role during Charles Lavigerie’s childhood and youth for his literary and cultural training.

Peter II married Rose Agnes Fourtricot on September 9, 1798. Rose Agnès Fourtricot was only 19 years old at the time, while her husband was 34. Like his father, he worked at the Bayonne Treasury. At the time of his marriage, he was “Director of Works” and at the time of the birth of his first child, “Essayeur”, i. e. responsible for the “titre” of the coins. He had to check the exact weight of the precious metal of each coin minted at the Bayonne Treasury and mark it with the Latrilhe stamp. In 1828, Peter II became Director of the Treasury This important position imposed heavy costs on him: the purchase of precious metals, the installation of workshops, equipment, etc. He had to borrow. However, business was very bad in France in 1830. Pierre Latrilhe could not repay his creditors. The Domaine de Huire, where he lived, was seized and put up for sale by public tender in 1832.

To get out of this difficult situation, Peter Latrilhe II exchanged Huire for the house of Biscardi (a little higher on the same hill) belonging to Mr. Isaac Léon, a wealthy Jew from the commune of St Esprit. As the properties were of very unequal value, Mr Léon paid a balance (a sum of money that compensates for the unequal value during an exchange) of 48,000 francs. This allowed Pierre Latrilhe to repay his creditors.

Martial (or Marthial) Allemand Lavigerie, originally from Angoulême, came to live in Bayonne around 1802 as Receiver of the National Lottery. At the same time, at the beginning of the century, at least three of his brothers and sisters (from a family of thirteen children) also moved to Bayonne.

Martial had married Louise Vaslin. Divorced in 1796, he remarried on 17 June 1801 to Marie-Louise Raymond de Saint Germain, born in St Domingue in January 1776. The household moved to Bayonne probably shortly after their marriage.

Martial Allemand Lavigerie has always remained Receiver of the “National”, “Imperial” and “Royal” Lottery. His duties had certainly put him in touch with important people in the Bayonese financial community. In 1807, Martial became a member of “La Zélée”, the lodge of the Freemasons of Bayonne, and he held several services there. His young wife died in I8I3, one month after the birth of their fifth child.

Léon Philippe Allemand Lavigerie (who will be the Cardinal’s father) was Martial’s first son. He did not live in Bayonne, but in Angoulême with his mother, Louise Vaslin. However, in I8I7, he began his career in customs at the port of Bayonne. He was 22 years old. Apart from two months in Vannes in 1820, all his posts were in or near Bayonne: Ustaritz, Urdos, Aînhoa, Bordeau… He rose through the ranks: from “supernumerary” in 1817 to “Receiver” to Royal Customs Declarations in 1824. It was then that he married, on November 3, 1824, Hermine Louise Latrilhe, who lived in Huire.

The main building of the Huire Estate had only one floor and, despite a few large rooms, it was cramped now that the family was expanding. The young Lavigerie-Latrilhe household went to live in the annex house on the same property. It was here that the first three children of the household were born: Charles (1825), Pierre Félix (1828) and Louise (Mme Kienner) (1832). People say that the whole family lived together at the “Grand Huire”, even though the young Lavigerie household lived in the neighbouring building. Everyone gathered for meals at the “Grand Huire”.

When the Latrilhe family was forced to leave the Domaine de Huire in 1832, the Lavigerie family moved to the Villa Beaulieu in 1832 or 1833, which they had built in 1832, also in the St Etienne district. From there Charles and his brothers went daily to St Leon’s College near Bayonne Cathedral.

Roman conferences – Vatican relations with African States

Vatican Diplomatic relations with African States

Archbishop Paul Gallagher is currently the Secretary for relations with the States within the Holy See’s Secretariat of State.

Born in Liverpool in 1954, Paul Gallagher is ordained priest in 1977 and soon joins the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy where he obtains a doctorate in Canon Law. From 1984, he begins working in the Holy See’s diplomacy. He will be posted in Tanzania, Uruguay and the Philippines before becoming the Nuncio in Burundi, the Observer in the Council of Europe, the Nuncio in Guatemala and, finally the Nuncio in Australia until Pope Francis appoints him Secretary for relations with the States. From 2015, he is instrumental in promoting dialogue between parties in the Middle East.

Archbishop Gallagher has known a number of confreres, especially in Tanzania where he remembers Atiman House and its residents of the time. 

Archbishop Gallagher was invited to the Generalate to tell us of his experience as secretary for relations with the States, especially with the States of Africa.  In a style very relaxed and friendly, he told us, not without a certain realism on the difficulties, of his optimism for an Africa which is naturally very religious.

PEP/Fra 150th St Martin’s Basilica in Tours

In the footsteps of Cardinal Lavigerie, on the occasion of the 150th anniversary. Extract from the Mini-Lien of the France Sector.


Why in Tours?

Stan Lubungo wrote in Petit Echo n° 1099: “There is reason to believe that our founder had received a proper gift from the Spirit to be an apostle and missionary in Africa. We can think of this dream, to which he often referred and in which he was transported to an unknown and foreign country where people of dark skin, speaking a foreign language came to him and how very soon afterwards he found himself appointed Archbishop of Algiers. And this decisive dream, very Pauline, took place at the tomb of Saint Martin in Tours

When we look at the work that the Cardinal has accomplished, it is indisputable that he did not achieve this without having been called to it and without having been supported by divine grace. This is why we see it fit to celebrate the 150th anniversary where the Cardinal’s history is in line with the main currents of the Church.

Youth for Peace in the Great Lakes


Inspired by the theme that marks our 150th anniversary, “With Christ, Ever Faithful to Africa”, the Youth Chaplains Fathers – Lowrent Kamwaza, M.Afr. of Notre Dame d’Afrique Katoyi-Goma Parish (DRC), John SSekweyama, M.Afr. of the Parish of the Holy Trinity Buholo-Bukavu (DRC), Kingsley Njimogu of St. Augustine Parish (Burundi) and Edison Akatuhurira of St. Pierre Cyahafi Kimisagara-Kigali Parish (Rwanda) – took the young people of these 4 “Great Lakes Countries” on a 150th anniversary pilgrimage of Twinning for Peace and Coexistence at Uganda Martyrs Sanctuary in Namugongo, Kampala, 6-13 May 2019.

The second edition of this initiative in favour of the Youth of the Missionaries of Africa parishes of the Province of Central Africa (PAC) has proved to be a fruitful experience of encounter for our young people. It will leave deep traces in the hearts of these young pilgrims by stimulating in them the desire to seek Christ to the end, as witnessed by the young martyrs of Uganda – St Kizito, Charles Lwanga and others.

This pilgrimage began on May 6, 2019 when our young pilgrims from Burundi, Bukavu and Goma (DRC) were warmly welcomed into Christian families at Kimisagara Parish in Kigali. Exchanges, laughter, songs of praise and fraternal sharing marked this very important first step of the journey in the lives of our young pilgrims. The generosity of these host families and Rwandan confreres, the friendships forged during the meetings are all seeds of peace and love that will now sprout in the hearts of these young people.

The next day, May 7, the trip of more than 500 kilometres from Kigali to Kampala was very interesting. Two buses had been rented to transport these young people, most of whom were making such a long trip for the very first time in their lives. They were amazed by the beautiful landscapes and good roads of neighbouring countries, a world quite different from Congo or Burundi.

The highlight of this pilgrimage was a day of prayer and visits to the shrines of Namugongo and Manyonyo and to the parish of Nabulagala. For the first time, our young people saw their dreams come true when they set foot on the holy ground where our Martyrs of Uganda rest. Prayer, meditation, visiting these sacred places and celebrating the sacrament of penance and the Eucharist in the Basilica of Namugongo are experiences they will never forget. Our thanks to our brothers Vincent Lubega, Bernard Chowa and the trainees of Nabulagala who devoted their time to speak and give our young pilgrims the necessary explanations about the martyrs.

May we express our sincere thanks to our colleagues from Sharing Youth Centre Hillaire Guinko and Joseph Bakuri and their administration who fraternally welcomed and housed our young people during our stay in Uganda. These confreres have provided us with the best equipment and personnel to ensure the success of this pilgrimage. Their generosity impressed everyone and their welcome is a sign of true missionary charity. Many thanks to our colleagues at Lourdel House – Otto Kato, Elias Mwebembezi and Brother Francis – for their generous welcome.

May the Virgin Mary, Queen of the Apostles and Our Lady of Africa intercede for all of us and for this youth in search of peace!

Viva the 150th anniversary of the Missionaries of Africa!

Lowrent Kamwaza M.Afr.
May 23, 2019


Celebration of the 150th in Ottawa (AMS)

The Missionaries of Africa, brothers, sisters and fathers, were the guests of Ottawa’s Catholic Cathedral on May 11 and 12 to celebrate their 150th anniversary of foundation. Indeed, Cardinal Lavigerie founded the Society of Missionaries of Africa in 1868 and the Congregation of the Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Africa in 1869.

“They left, without knowing what was in store for them, they signed a blank cheque and they did it with their hearts and for life. Strengthened by the word of Christ: “I am with you always…” They had confidence! And they were not disappointed. “These words spoken by Sister Jacqueline Picard resonated within the cathedral enclosure from the beginning of the Eucharistic celebration. “We also say THANK YOU to Africa who has given us so much, who has enriched us with her incredible human values. Africa has loved and transformed us,” she added. »

The main reason for the missionaries’ testimony was to thank the Church of Ottawa, Christians and ecclesiastical authorities, “for their material and spiritual support during all these years. We missionaries have the joy of fulfilling our dream when we are leaving, but for the parents, it is a sacrifice they have to make every time we retrn to Africa after a leave of absence,” added Sister Jacqueline.

Cardinal Lavigerie wrote to the first nuns: “Despite the zeal of the missionaries (men), their efforts will never produce sufficient fruit if they are not helped by women-apostles among the women. Women must be the most powerful missionaries of the African people.”

Fathers Serge St-Arneault and Gilles Barrette animated the liturgies while appreciating the appropriate decoration, including a banner illustrating the different countries where the missionaries work in Africa. The mission continues with the arrival of young girls and boys, mainly African, who continue their formation in order to follow in the footsteps of their predecessors, all of whom are committed to witnessing to their faith in the name of Jesus Christ.

Many thanks to the Archbishop of the Diocese of Ottawa, Most Reverend Terrence Prendergast, S.J. for his hospitality.

It is worth noting the presence of Father Walter Vogels, M.Afr, who is visiting Ottawa. Father Vogels has taught for more than 40 years in the universities of Ottawa. He now resides in Belgium.