Archbishop Christian Lépine of Montreal, Canada, interviews the Provincial of the Americas, Fr. Réal Doucet, on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the existence of our two missionary institutes. (in French)
In the footsteps of Cardinal Lavigerie, on the occasion of the 150th anniversary. Extract from the Mini-Lien of the France Sector.
ST MARTIN's BASILICA IN TOURS, SUNDAY, JULY 7, 2019 at 11:00 am
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 PILGRIMAGE FOR PEACE AND PEACEFUL COEXISTENCE PEACEFUL TO THE SANCTUARIES OF THE MARTYRS OF UGANDA IN NAMUGONGO AND A SHARING YOUTH CENTRE - KAMPALA UGANDA, FROM 06- 13 MAY, 2019
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
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.
Evocation of the 19 martyrs of the Church of Algeria
The Dominican Jean-Jacques Pérennès lived for a long time in Algeria during Fr. Claverie’s time and coordinated the examination of the file for the beatification of the 19 martyrs of Algeria. In his lecture he talks about the 19 martyrs he has necessarily learned to know better through their writings and stories.
This very beautiful lecture, given in French as part of the 150th anniversary, is worth listening to, even if, unfortunately, the sound quality is not optimal.
Below you will find the audio link for the conference, and below is the PowerPoint that Father Jean-Jacques used throughout his conference.
Like all the provinces of the Society, Rome celebrated its main event at the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the foundation of the Lavigerie Family, namely the White Fathers, Missionaries of Africa, founded in 1868, and the White Sisters, Missionaries of Our Lady of Africa in 1869.
The Symposium had long been planned to be in line with the International Conference of Major Superiors (UISG) in order to encourage the participation of the Superiors General of the 21 African women’s congregations often founded by a White Father confrere (bishop) but especially “accompanied” by the White Sisters.
The success of this symposium would not have been as spectacular without their extremely energizing presence; if the preparation of the 150th anniversary celebrations of our foundations brought our two congregations/society closer together, this symposium confirmed their complementarity, already present in the vision of evangelization of sub-Saharan Africa of our founder Cardinal Charles Martial Lavigerie: Africa will not be evangelized without the presence of women apostles who will accompany African women and families to know, love and follow Jesus.
The main purpose of this symposium was to raise the visibility of the Lavigerie family in the maze of congregations present in Rome. The invited audience was essentially composed of men and women religious present in Rome, who regularly rub shoulders with us, without necessarily knowing us in our specific charism. The theme was: “The significance of 150 years of Mission in Africa for the Universal Mission of the Church”. While the date chosen favoured the participation of African women’s congregations, it was less favourable to the presence of many members of general councils visiting their congregations at this time of the year. The 210-seat auditorium at Urbaniana University, which we had rented for the occasion, was nevertheless almost full.
The conference began with the intervention of the two main speakers. Our confrere, Archbishop Michael Fitzgerald, spoke non-exhaustively about the “Contribution of our two institutes to the missionary work of the Universal Church”, noting in his conclusion that, from the very beginning of our foundations, the encounter – initially with Islam, then with all Africans and all religious realities – has always been essential in our charism, as well as the struggle for Justice and Peace for and with the people in whose service we work. You will find the link to the text of his speech at the bottom of this page.
Sister Carmen Sammut, Superior General of the White Sisters, presented the essential characteristics that make the White Sisters Missionaries especially to women and for Africa, initiators who will allow the Africans themselves to continue the work of evangelization in Africa. She then drew the portrait of 7 women, missionaries of Our Lady of Africa, all models of women missionaries in the service of the universal Church. The link to the text of his speech is at the bottom of the page.
After a 30-minute break, three speakers took part in a roundtable discussion with public interaction after the presentations. Through the account of some recent encounters with very simple people in his diocese, Bishop Richard Baawobr, M.Afr., spoke of the urgency of sharing the person, the lifestyle and the message of Jesus in the human encounter. It is in the Word of God, shared within human-sized Christian communities, that our efforts to evangelize are rooted. The link to the text of Bishop Richard’s speech is available at the bottom of this page.
In a very theological intervention, Don Antoine de Padou Pooda, a priest from the diocese of Gadoua, Burkina Faso, teaching missiology at the Urbaniana and declaring himself heir to the White Fathers, then spoke to us about the heritage and spiritual fruitfulness of the “Lavigerie Family” in Africa. The link to the text of Don Antoine de Padou’s speech is available at the bottom of this page.
Sister Lea Belemsaga, Superior General of the Sisters of the Annunciation of Bobo Dioulasso, concluded the Round Table presentations by presenting a Power Point on three of the 21 congregations founded and/or accompanied by the Lavigerie Family. Sister Lea’s Power Point can be downloaded here and the link to the Power Point text (in 3 languages) is available at the bottom of this page.
The Symposium participants then gathered to share, in a spirit of conviviality, the evening meal around an excellent buffet before returning to the audience for the last part of the Symposium, a concert given by a Togolese artist who came with his family from Milan, in northern Italy. At the bottom of this page, you can enjoy a compilation of this concert.
On the occasion of the 150th anniversary, the Missionaries of Africa, together with our Sisters MSOLA, are holding this Saturday a SYMPOSIUM at one of the Universities of Rome. The General theme is the “Significance of 150 years of service to Africa for the Universal Mission of the Church”.
At 3pm, two personalities will make a 20 minute presentation. Our confrere, Mgr. Michael Fitzgerald, will speak on the “Contribution of the two institutes to the Missionary Work of the Universal Church”. As for Sr. Carmen Sammut, Superior General of the MSOLA, she will present a talk on “Women apostles: some portraits”. There should be time for interaction with the 200 guests that are expected to attend.
At 5pm, there will be a Round Table with three speakers who will introduce their topics in 10 minutes to start off interaction with the public. Don Antoine de Padoue Pooda, a priest of the diocese of Gaoua in Burkina Faso, teaching missiology at the Urbaniana University in Rome, will speak on the “Inheritance and spiritual fecundity of the ‘Lavigerie Family’ in Africa”. Our confrere, Mgr. Richard Baawobr, will deal with the question “Why evangelize? The contribution of the Bible and Small Christian Communities”. As for Sister Lea Belemsaga, general superior of the Annunciation Sisters of Bobo, she will speak, in the name of all the congregations sponsored by the Lavigerie Family, about “The ‘FIAT’ of the african woman: fundation of 21 female congregations for the Mission”.
After sharing a buffet, we will come back to the Hall for the last part of our symposium, a concert by a Togolese singer and composer, Arsène Duevi, who lives with his family in Milan. He will take us to a singing journey to the very roots of humanity: Africa!
Following are a few video clips made on various themes, which will be shown during the 30 minutes before the beginning of the symposium. You will also see the programme advertised in between, with a glimse on our Togolese artist.
As part of the Jubilee celebrations in St Anne’s we organised, on the 7th of March, a morning of lectures and presentations about the Society. We invited the staff and students of Ratisbonne, the Salesian theology university where our candidates go for their theological formation.
We started with a talk by Dave: “150 years old and still going strong!” – a presentation of some of the elements of our history which help us to understand who we are today.
This was followed by a talk given by Frans Bouwen who spoke about the presence of the “White Fathers” (as we were always known) in Jerusalem.
After a break Fr Gaëtan Tiendebéogo presented the film “Witnesses of the Greatest Love” which was about the “martyrs of Algeria” and which was made by the Chemin Neuf community. Finally three of the students shared something of their own personal experience of life with the Missionaries of Africa. Nelson Ekeh spoke of inter-culturality in the Society, Thierry Uyirwoth of his experience of community and Belito Joaquim of our commitment to JPIC. The morning finished with lunch shared by all the participants. The general agreement was that the morning had been both interesting and enjoyable.
Dave Sullivan, M.Afr.
Some of you have asked for the written text of this very interesting conference. In the meantime, I have adopted and edited the conference title used in the written version. I also received the Power-Point presentation that I have inserted after the sound file below. For the moment I only have the French versions of those two documents, but the English text of the conference should follow soon.
Gisela Schreyer, archivist of the MSOLA, tells us about the history, little known to the White Fathers, of Mother Marie Salome, considered to be the co-founder of the White Sisters with Cardinal Lavigerie.
Here is a text that comes from Uganda, where the Vocation animators from both institutes of the Lavigerie Family have organised together some vocational activities in the context of the celebrations of our 150th anniversary.
We are very grateful to the Lord for the gift of our two institutes founded by Cardinal Lavigerie. In this line, we acknowledge the different activities that have been taking place in collaboration in the field of Missionary Vocation Animation and awareness to the youth.
Here in Uganda, from 11th to 17th January 2919, the vocation teams of MSOLA and M.Afr. organized a “come and see” session in the context of the 150 years of our foundation.
Eight aspirants of the M.Afr. and eight aspirants of the MSOLA participated together with the MSOLA pre-postulants.
On Sunday 13th January we made a pilgrimage to some important sites linked to our historical background in Uganda. We visited the Rubaga Cathedral, the hospital and the cemetery where the pioneer MSOLA were buried. We also went to Nabulagala where the pioneer M.Afr. were buried and to the Munyonyo Martyrs Shrine where King Mwanga sentenced to death the then future Uganda Martyrs. At all these sites , we stopped and got some historical explanations and prayed with gratitude for all the 150 years .
On Tuesday 15th January 2019, we all met at the MSOLA house in Bunamwaya for a common session. Sr. Harriet, who came all the way from Rwanda, together with Sr. Theopista Mbabazi animated the session. In the morning, Br. Francis gave an input on Cardinal Lavigerie in the context of 150 years of our foundation. This was followed by some group work and sharing.
We also marked the day with Holy Mass, for which Fr. Otto Katto was the main celebrant. It was nice to see how the young people aspiring to be missionaries were joyful at Mass and during the session. One would imagine how Cardinal Lavigerie must have been happy seeing the future Missionaries working together.
In the afternoon, there was an input presented by Srs. Harriet Kabaije and Theopista Mbabazi concerning our activities today in the context of 150 years especially our struggle against human trafficking. This was also followed by some very enriching group reflection sharing about our present activities in the struggle about human trafficking and slavery.
It was also striking to see how the aspirants were able to identify the current situations where they feel called and how they were connected to our mission today. These were some of the outstanding points that motivated the aspirants in M.Afr. and MSOLA: the legacy of our ancestors in faith , the high influx of refugees, not being materialistic, helping the needy, a desire to promote Justice and Peace, love and unity, the diminishing number of Missionaries in Europe and the inner force to commit to prayer. Indeed God speaks to the hearts of his people. And the question remains: Whom shall I send?
We were grateful to the MSOLA who received us so well. The aspirants were very happy to have lived this beautiful experience of good collaboration between MSOLA and M.Afr. We are planning another common session in May in the context of the 150years.