Update on the Mozambique situation

We have just received the following message from Boris Yabre, M.Afr., Provincial Delegate for Mozambique.

Dear confreres and Friends and Benefactors and People of Good will, greetings from Beira.

Six days ago, I sent you a SOS message sharing with you about what we are living on the ground and appealing for help.

We want to thank each and every one of you for your constant prayers and growing concern. Some of you have already sent your contributions to alleviate the pains of the people around us; others are still looking for the ways and means to do so. We wholeheartedly say thank you.

On Tuesday, the Archbishop of Beira called for an urgent meeting of the pastoral agents of the archdiocese. About hundred people or so were present. we shared about the current situation of the people at the various places of the diocese.

Putting aside the lost lives, people are in extreme need of food, drinking water and shelters. Some incidents occurred by which the population went and broke some shops in order to get food without fearing the police presence.  There is no guaranty and certainty if the humanitarian aid is reaching everywhere. Bureaucracy, protocols, greed can be a hindrance to that.

The majority of the parish churches, chapels and schools are down or roofless. Many convents and presbyteries suffered.  The archbishop suspended all the pastoral planned activities until further notice. The urgency of the time is to be with the people, share their pains and give them hope regardless of their religious, political and ethnical affiliation. We were reminded not to lose sight on what the Lord may want to tell us through this calamity.

This 4th Sunday of Lent celebration is dedicated to pray for the victims of the cyclone Idai all over the archdiocese of Beira. Each parish will make special collection today to help its most affected people.

The sad reality is that in the market places the prices of essential products have gone higher. The price of iron sheet and cement have gone up in a moment where people are in dire need. The lusalite (asbestos) sheets cannot be sold to ordinary people. It is reserved for government use in order to fix first the public structures: Government offices and schools.

In the Sector house and Nazaré Centre of Formation, what occupied the mind these last days was to make some cleaning up: gathering the iron sheet left here and there by the wind, clearing the ground as most of the mango and coconut trees were down, in order to give way and protect ourselves. So far there is no electricity. Only the ‘chosen few” have access to it. At least, the Central Hospital have electricity and the Health Centres are using generators. Right now, the city of Beira is running out of generators on sale. To have one there is need to order it from Chimoio or Tete.

Sussundenga has no electricity neither. Those who lost their houses are given only tents by the Red Cross. The fields are swept away by the waters giving way to despair and the imminence of a year of hunger.

In Dombe there is rising need of food, shelters, and drinking water. For whatever reason, it is one of the forgotten places of the country. The fields got flooded and the crops are gone.  Our community chapels in some villages which partly fell are where some families are living.

On the estimates you can add ‘we shall try to come up with so concrete figures by the end of this week for what our Confreres may need for their missions and in order to contribute to helping the needy…

So far, we cannot give any estimate of what could cost the reconstruction of our structures: Nazaré Centre of formation, the Sector house. It seems to be too soon to have clear references, giving the general chaos we are in. We shall try to come up with so concrete figures by the end of this week for what our Confreres may need for their mission and in order to contribute to helping the needy.

The families of our candidates which we managed to contact are safe. They do also have some challenges like anybody else. Our confreres and stagiaires are doing well. They continue to be close to the people and to face with them the test of time.

Boris Yabre, M.Afr.
Provincial Delegate

  • The big chapel of Nazaré
  • Desolation in Nazare
  • Desolation in Nazare
  • Dombe, what remains of maize fields
  • Dombe camp of tents for the homeless
  • Maize fields swept by water in Sussudenga.
  • Some people trying to regain their villages after the flood for a new giving with almost nothing in Matarara- Dombe
  • The remaining of a community chapel serves as a shelter for this family
  • Improvised homes
  • Drinking water has to be supplied...

Cyclone Idai – News from Hugh Seenan (Facebook)

Thanks to all who have been worried about me here in Malawi or worried about Beira, getting in touch with me or my family. Where I am in Malawi, where I’ve been for the last year, we have had good weather. I was in Beira for 10 years before that. It’s been devastating seeing the reports. Over the years I’ve been in all the places from Beira to Chimanimani in Zimbabwe, even in Buzi where you see everybody on top of buildings without food. It is only in the last couple of days that I started getting news from friends and former neighbours. Slowly they are clearing up trying to repair their homes. It’s good to hear. Nazaré Centre , Beira Archdiocesan Pastoral Centre, where I worked, was badly hit. Some pictures follow. They have started cleaning up but it will be a while before they can receive groups. All going well, I will go there for Holy Week. Thanks for remembering me. Pray for everyone affected and the relief teams. God Bless,

Hugh Seenan, M.Afr.

 

150 years… of which 140 in Jerusalem

On the 8th of December, at 10h, we celebrated the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of Mary in the basilica of St-Anne in Jerusalem. Many invitations were sent out. It is a ‘Consular Mass’ at which the General Consul of France participates, with members of the Consulate. But as the Consul was absent, he was represented by Mr. Remy Bouallegue, his ‘Adjoint’. Though it was raining, a good crowd came for the celebration: lay-people, Sisters, staff and students of the Salesian Institute and many more and about 20 priests concelebrating. Josef Buholzer, the superior of the community, was the main-celebrant, assisted by Mgr Michael Fitzgerald and Benoît Bernard, the newly arrived Rector of the Basilica. Bosco Ufoyuru, our newly ordained deacon, proclaimed the gospel. Continue reading “150 years… of which 140 in Jerusalem”

Martyrs of their work

“In the eyes of men, they were punished but by their hope, they already had immortality”; Wisdom 3:4. This is an excerpt from the first reading for the solemnity of Saint Cyprian, bishop and martyr, patron saint of North Africa.

Indeed, by their hope, the martyrs already possess immortality because “the life of the righteous is in the hand of God, no torment has taken over them”. (Wisdom 3:1)

This year, the feast of St. Cyprian coincided in some way with the joyful announcement of the beatification of our 19 new martyrs of the Church in Algeria (Bishop Claverie and his 19 Companions) which will take place in Santa Cruz, in Oran on December 8, 2018.

Like St. Cyprian, their departure from this world was seen as a misfortune (for those who do not think and those who have no hope). Some died, shot to death, others slit their throats like sheep, others stabbed coming back from Mass, others in explosions… When they left us, we thought they were destroyed,… (Wisdom 3:3). Nevertheless, since the blood of the martyrs is a seed of Christians,” said Tertullian, dying out of love and fidelity for this people and this country they loved so much, they are still bearing fruit!

My greatest surprise as a witness to their works and abundant fruits was on 16 September 2018, the very day of the feast of St. Cyprian. We had planned to make registrations for school support courses in English and French as every year for all levels (from primary school to university). Every year the number increases because we have become “victims of our success”. We knew there would be people on registration day because we have limited space, but not as much! At 7:48 am, after the lauds, I opened the portal in order to prepare for the registration to start at 8:30 am. Surprise! Surprise! 83 people already in front of the entrance gate, not to mention those who had passed through the small door of the library! Overwhelmed by the number, everything had to be turned upside down; no breakfast, a late lunch and no nap all week long, beating the record even on the waiting list! Most of those who came were heard saying “the Fathers have reopened the language school”, others “there is no better place than the White Fathers of Tizi”….others still saying “I have not slept to get there first and there have I found other parents already because you are the best”… So, meditating on all this, I said to myself, if so many people trust us for everything we do, it is not only because of us, but because of our predecessors who were at the origin of this seed. Dying, they were still bearing fruit; they became martyrs of their good works. Truly, they sparkle like a fire running through the straw. (Wisdom 3:7)

Indeed, “if the grain of wheat that has fallen to the ground does not die, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit” (John 12:24), the gospel of the solemnity of St. Cyprian. After my meditation, I came to tell you… We, who were inspired by our martyred predecessors, through their works, may we pray that the Lord will help us to put more of our trust in him.

Vincent Kyererezi, M.Afr.
Tizi Ouzou

But who can be a “saint” ?

Here is a reflection by Georges Paquet, formerly a Missionary of Africa in Tanzania, living now in Pau-Billière, on Holiness.

“To be holy, it is not necessary to be a bishop or religious. (Francis, in “Gaudete et exsultate”, quoted by “La Croix” of 19.07.18, who points out that our pope says not to forget young people like that young Neapolitan who will be “saint” on 14.10 with, finally, Oscar Romero, because the martyrs do not need to “perform a miracle”!)

Continue reading “But who can be a “saint” ?”

Jub 150 : Remain faithful to your charism

Thank you to our Swiss confrere Roman Stäger, who published this article in German in the «Schweizer Kirchenzeitung» of January 18, 2018.

REMAIN FAITHFUL TO YOUR CHARISM!

Jubilee of 150 years of “Missionaries of Africa” and “White Sisters”.

It was in an emergency that the Missionaries of Africa were founded: the priests and the Brothers on October 19, 1868, the Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Africa a year later (September 9, 1869). The then Archbishop of Algiers, Charles Martial Lavigerie (1825-1892), had to take care of hundreds of orphans, who, victims of a widespread famine Continue reading “Jub 150 : Remain faithful to your charism”

News from Théo Caerts in Togo

Hello ! This time, I’m pretty late with my New Year’s greetings: Christmas and New Year are long gone. What happened ? We had several major cuts in the Internet connection lately, and in the Christmas-New Year period, our Company Togo Telecom had the “good idea” to work on their network, resulting in cuts for weeks! In addition, I was myself busy preparing for a retreat, scheduled for the end of January in our training house in Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso). So, with great delay, but no less sincerely, I send you all my best wishes and those of our entire community to each and every one of you and to your families and communities: wishes for health, happiness, joy, success in all your activities, and the blessing of God on you all! Thank you to all those who have done so much better than me and whose Christmas and Happy New Year wishes arrived well in time! Thank you for your fidelity !

This year 2018 will be marked by my definitive return to Belgium. Indeed,
I will be 75 years old this year and my missionary commitment counts also 50 years: in dialogue with my superiors, I felt that it was a good time to leave Togo and Africa and to put myself at the service of the Sector of Belgium, which was quick to appoint me in the community of the Antwerp Procure . All this will not happen without a small pinch of heart, of course, but, it’s life: there is a beginning and an end to everything!
And how is Togo? And our projects in Talo? Well, Togo is not going very well, I’m afraid. There have been a lot of demonstrations, strikes, and violence lately to bring about political change. Fortunately, here in Atakpamé and Talo, we were not affected by these events. As for our projects, we are in the process of realizing the biggest, the most important and the most difficult: we are building a Multipurpose Center, which will also serve as a parish church on Sundays and on other occasions. You will find above some pictures of the completed projects (our house and school), and the Multpurpose Center yet under construction. You will notice that it is already well advanced, but far from finished. If some people of good will can help us finish the whole thing, they will be very welcome! Recently, with the help of the “Development Office” of the Missionaries of Africa in Washington (USA), who had already helped us also for the construction of the school, we drilled a 75 meters deep well, intended for the population, helping especially the women in the arduous and daily search for water.

Everything has been achieved since our arrival here in May 2012 (the construction works with the Roofing Companies Fort Lupton started on July 1, 2013), and this was only possible thanks to the generous help of many of you. To name benefactors is always delicate, but, all the same I would like to thank especially some people, who prefer to remain anonymous, and who have given significant sums for all our projects – the Province of Limburg and the Sector of Germany – who have helped a lot in the construction of a six-class primary school, with washroom, director’s office, meeting room, and two nursery classes – some Christians from Canada and confreres, who have made a very important contribution to the building of the church, as well as the Sisters of Mercy of Renais and the Sisters of Mary from Deberiot Street in Leuven – and, for the most part, the many Missionaries of Africa confreres, especially in Belgium, but also from all over, who really supported, in a marvelous way, the birth of this new establishment of the Missionaries of Africa in Togo. May everyone here be warmly thanked! Thank you so much !

But, as we have always said, we did not come here to build buildings only, however necessary they may be, but to build a Christian community. And of this work more discreet and interior, there are no photos! Some important efforts of Pastoral work have just been done a few weeks ago with the selection of new members of the Parish Pastoral Council, who are our closest collaborators, and who bear, with us, an important responsibility for parish work. Every month for a weekend, we bring together some twenty young people, most of whom are already in university, and who are interested in the missionary vocation. Together with a few Christians, we have just launched a three month introductory course on the Social Doctrine of the Church, which every Tuesday, from 18h to 20h, brings together more or less 25 people from the whole city of Atakpamé. Two young Togolese Missionaries of Africa have been ordained Priests and will soon leave for Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo. In Talo, in our Parish, to which we have given the name of Our Lady of Africa (OLA), we have a young and dynamic Christian community, which needs to be further trained and accompanied, and who, in turn must become missionary. This is our job, and we strive to respond as best as possible!

Those are some news from here that I wanted to share with you, together with my best wishes and those of the Missionaries of Africa Community. May God our Father bless this year to make it truly good and happy for each and every one of you, and give us the opportunity to meet in this new year!

With all my best wishes for peace, joy and happiness for this new year 2018!

Théo
Talo, 11th January 2018