Growing old whit our elders, French-speaking confreres

Meeting of French-speaking confreres in charge of elderly communities

Four days of sharing, four days trying to learn and understand, and finally, four days of facing up to our individual responsibilities. This is the feeling that remained with me after this meeting in Rome between the various superiors of retirement homes in the province. And what did we learn? … solutions? … methods? … new ideas? None of this, except the observation that no two retirement homes are alike, no model is ideal, our elderly confreres are all different, and none of them ages according to the rules, but they all deserve respect and recognition for all they have achieved in their long missionary lives out in their missionary territory. It is also true that each one of them still feels they are missionaries and will be missionaries until they “return to” the Father, even though it is the same Father that each one of them has made known in their own way and who has always supported them throughout their lives. But can we speak of ” returning to… “?

This is why all our discussions were marked by respect, even affection, but never by certainty. This is perhaps also why Gérard Chabanon let us talk a lot without looking at his watch, because in the end we all came to this slightly guilty realisation: if our elderly confreres each have problems – and they do – it is we, the people in charge, who feel them the most. 

That is why this meeting has been so important. It has allowed us to assume our responsibilities in a new light, thanks to the sharing of our fears and doubts, and sometimes our disillusionment, to our informal meetings which are often more fruitful than the common meetings themselves, to the common prayer in which our elderly confreres have pride of place and finally to our poverty, which is a source of infinite richness. The Superiors of the Society in Rome did not get it wrong, as they did everything to welcome and thank us; but none of them ventured to give us the slightest advice and it was much better that way. On the plane back to Paris and to “my” community, I felt a little disoriented but happy and at peace. I felt much more “responsible” since I discovered that I would no longer have to accompany elderly confreres but rather in union with all the confreres in charge of retirement homes in the province, we would have to grow old together with our “old people” just as our novice masters had tried to grow with us. This is perhaps the only conclusion that, unconsciously, we came to seek in Rome, a source of hope and comfort.

Clément Forestier


Growing old with our elders, English-speaking confreres

Meeting of English-speaking confreres in charge of elderly communities

This meeting was held in Rome from Sunday 6th March to Friday 11th March 2022 and was hosted by the Provincial, Gerard Chabanon, and the Assistant Provincial, Georges Jacques.

Unlike previous meetings there was no outside invited speaker or animator.  This had not always proved to be beneficial.  Instead, the meeting would proceed at the pace and in the interests of those present with guidance from Gerard and Georges.

We met on Monday morning for a recollection led by Francis Barnes in which he reminded us that, especially in old age, we come to realise more fully our total dependence on others but above all on God.  The Nunc Dimitus of Simeon in the temple reminds us the peace and beauty of “letting go” and placing the past, the future and all in the hands of the Lord.

Frank led our Eucharist that day and on other days we celebrated together in the chapel of the Uganda Martyrs. It was a special moment to pray for those entrusted to our care.

In the afternoon we began our sharing on the different experiences we are living which would take us through until lunchtime on Tuesday.  There was no hurry and each was allowed time to present their report.  It is clear that the setup of our houses differs in each country.  In the Netherlands and in Germany there are opportunities for collaboration with other organisations, lay and religious.  In Ireland and in the UK this is more difficult.  However, our confreres are the same and the joys and challenges of caring are the same. It was clear that we are all happy in our ministry and enjoy what we have been asked to do.

On Tuesday we spent time, with the help of videos, discussing the signs, causes and effects of dementia which is on the increase everywhere.  This led to a discussion on the importance of every confrere having in place all the legal paperwork needed when one is seriously ill or has died. The decision when to move a confrere from our care to more professional care is a delicate one.

A special mention was made of those living outside community and our duty of pastoral care for them.

On Wednesday time was given to our life in community and how to energise and motivate our communities. Clearly our community and personal prayer is the mainstay of our life together and is well practised everywhere.  It was noted that visiting individuals is an important role of the one in charge and listening to them and their life stories.  Outings and community games are a way of drawing us together and relaxing.  Special mention was made of inviting confreres to write their memoirs, which is not only therapeutic but which can also contribute to the archives of the Society.

The group put relaxing into practice on Thursday by taking a day out together.  We visited the church of Cardinal Lavigerie, Basilica di S. Agnese.  His name and crest are clearly to be seen in the church.  The church stands above the smallest catacombs in Rome and we were able to visit them with the help of an excellent guide.  In the evening we joined the community for the Eucharist and after supper the tradional serata romana.

In conclusion the meeting was one of the most relaxed and positive I have attended.  There were no solutions or striking ways forward but an open and honest sharing of the joys and challenges of our ministry.

We thank Gerard and Georges for their support and their encouragement clearly felt throughout the meeting.  And finally, of course, we thank the community of the generalate for their warm and fraternal welcome.

Jozef de Beeker

A wink from Tizi-Ouzou

A wink from Tizi-Ouzou

Hello and greetings from Tizi. I hope you are doing well. Here we are all fine.

Just to give you some news:

Currently, there are three of us: Benoit, from the DRC, a former member of Notre Dame, Philippe Dakono, who recently arrived from Mali just after his ordination, and I, Vincent, from Uganda. And the good news is that, overall, everything is fine.

We have already started the academic year well on October 1st with registrations and re-registrations at the library and everything is going well. We already have a few members, although libraries in general have fewer and fewer members. So we consider ourselves lucky.

And to satisfy the requests of those who are not part of the library’s 5 branches – Medicine, Pharmacy, Biology, English and Tamazight (Dialect of the Berber) – we have now structured the support courses: we take primary school students from the third year, all years of high school and college, as well as university or other adults. We offer them support courses in English and French. For the past three years, every year, we have been overflowing with registrations: from the first day before 8 a.m., about a hundred candidates have been waiting because places are limited. We only take 10 students per class. In this way, we become victims of our success. For the past three years, the places have been full, as there have been so many registrations. Last year, just like this year, also when registrations were supposed to start at 8:30 a.m., there were already about a hundred of them, even before 8 a.m. So we don’t really stubble, quite the contrary.

As for the parish, we have just launched the pastoral project of our parish by putting on the table the proposals of the parishioners present on October 12. It went well and our project will be in line with the 5 pastoral orientations of the diocese of Algiers resulting from a broad consultation launched by the Archbishop last year: Fraternity, Youth, Algerian Catholics, Formation and Communication. We are very optimistic because the atmosphere is much more fraternal and promising this year.

As for our community life, we continue to welcome the former students of the White Fathers, and many others who come to us for all kinds of reasons. We do our best to ensure a fraternal welcome every day.

Here are some news from Tizi. We hope to read you, may God bless you abundantly. Thank you for your prayer and for the mutual support in our Mission.


Vincent Kyererezi, M.Afr.
Community leader and Director of the Documentation and Meeting Centre, Le Figuier Library.

The believer’s destiny

Le destin du croyant

“The mountain of Zion is solid not because it is stable, but because it is sacred and dear to God. I believe that this is the destiny of every believer. We are dear to God and he does not abandon his own.” (Stan L. meditating on Ps. 125)

Christian blogger, Guillaume Nocq interviewed (in French) our Superior General, Stan Lubungo, inviting him to comment on the psalm that speaks the most to him. In this jubilee year blessed by God, Stan took the opportunity to return to the roots of our Missionary Society.

Bernard Ugeux, testimony

Bernard Ugeux, a priest at the service of women victims of rape in the DRC

In Bukavu, Democratic Republic of Congo, Father Bernard Ugeux, Missionary of Africa, devotes part of his time to helping women victims of rape. Testimony.

“If you want to destroy a society destroy women, it is they who transmit traditions, who are the unifying force of the family, who protect the children…”

Bernard Ugeux is a priest, of the community of Missionaries of Africa, also called White Fathers. For the past ten years, he has lived in Bukavu, where he devotes much of his time to welcoming, accompanying and reintegrating women survivors of conflict in Eastern DRC. Women who have often been kidnapped, raped and mutilated by armed gangs. Bukavu is also where Dr. Denis Mukwege, a gynaecologist who treats women who have been raped, who received the Nobel Peace Prize, and with whom Bernard Ugeux is linked, practices.


Why are there people who have a good life and others we think it is not possible for people to experience such things? “I have to live with this question mark,” says Bernard Ugeux. For him, evil is not even in the order of mystery but in the order of enigma. “You have to let God be God, I won’t have the answer, I see that Jesus doesn’t give an explanation, he gives an answer: compassion, indignation, love, justice.”

During conflicts, rape is intended to destroy, it is a real strategy, we even talk about a weapon of war. “After that people are completely upset, the social fabric, culture, religion, etc. are destroyed.” It may be done by militias, a village is surrounded at night, women are raped in front of children and husbands who are forced to attend the scene. Girls are taken away as sex slaves.


“The first question for all the victims is, will anyone believe me?” So, what Father Ugeux does is to listen to them, and to listen to them “in a way that makes them hear that I believe in what they say”. Then have them think that “despite all the negative feelings they have about themselves, they are still valuable”. Despite their “feeling of guilt, of defilement, of having lost their dignity, of no longer having a place in society”. Some are rejected by their families or husbands.

Father Ugeux is not a doctor nor a psychologist. But he knows Africa well and has a long experience of spiritual accompaniment. What he finds is that the women who come to him “seek less to be complained or comforted than to find a place in society”. The Nyota centre, which he runs, welcomes 250 young girls during the day. For three years they learn a trade. And little by little, “we see them regain their autonomy and their joie de vivre, their reasons for existing”. This is thanks to the network of friends of the White Fathers, who send money. Without them, he could not do “anything”.


Since he was 11 years old, Bernard Ugeux has had “Africa at heart”: ever since a Congolese bishop came to testify in the Jesuit school where he was studying. “When I graduated from high school I hesitated between doctor and priest, finally I turned to the White Fathers and the medical dimension always accompanied me.” His struggle is similar to Jacob’s, in the Bible, a struggle against the mystery of evil, against himself. He says, “Faith, at times, is a decision.”

What keeps him going? Prayer, every morning he devotes 45 minutes to the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. In the evening he says to God, “You are the Saviour, not me.” What also helps him is to live in community with six other White Fathers. And to see “people who are resurrecting”. For example, during the women’s festival on March 8, which is “very important in the centre”, during the traditional fashion show, “you have to see these girls marching with pride, that’s what keeps you going”. Impressed by the “resilience capacity” of women in Africa, he still keeps “deep down this anger of seeing how badly governments work and authorities abuse”.

Bro. Trevor Robinson’s wheelchairs

Missionary Brother Creates
Wheelchair Tricycles
for Disabled in Ghana

Here is a short article published by ZENIT on the 15th July, featuring the work of our confrere Bro. Trevor Robinson in Ghana.

Hope for the ‘last among the last’

On the streets of Tamale, a Ghanaian town of over three hundred thousand inhabitants, you see boys and adults with disabilities. In those conditions, disabled people can only stay near their home. The rest of the world does not exist for them and, above all, they live in a degrading condition. Looking at these “last among the last”, marginalized, vulnerable and without any help, Brother Trevor Robinson, an English missionary of the White Fathers (the Society of Missionaries of Africa), had the evangelical desire to dedicate time and energy to improve their living conditions.

For this reason, he decided to create simple handmade wheelchair tricycles for the disabled, reported Fides News Agency. Exploring the possibilities to remedy that situation, Brother Trevor designed a wheelchair tricycle that enables the person to sit in a wheelchair-type bike seat and move pedals with their hands, thus enabling them to have mobility. From the project to the first prototype, the step was short and, thanks to the help of volunteers and donors, Brother Robinson started the work of recovering useful material, such as pieces of old bicycles donated by friends or acquaintances.

“When I started, I thought of turning this tricycle into an opportunity for street kids. I asked some of them to help me. At first, we produced about ten a week. Now, slowly, we have reached fifty,”  said the missionary. The total price of a tricycle for disabled people is about 250 euros. “They have been given to men, women and older children who are too poor to purchase like this for themselves. Some people offer us a little money if they have it — but for the most part, those who are receiving them are too poor to pay anything at all. The wheelchair tricycles allow people to have dignity.

“When a disabled person manages to obtain one of these means he enters a new dimension and regains a hope of life. Thanks to the tricycle, he can move anywhere. This allows him to relate with many people and to grow. Not only that, but his muscles become stronger and this improves his physical health condition. Now there is a glimmer of gratitude and light in their lives.”

Back to the Future

This morning, the liturgy proposed to us, in the book of Exodus (Ex. 3:1-6.9-12), the story of Moses, the adopted Egyptian prince who became an outlaw in exile in the desert not far from the Horeb mountain – Mount Sinai – the mountain of God. That took me back 25 years…

I was in Mbezi (Tanzania) with Brother John Abobo. We ran a centre for street children. On Friday evening, at nightfall, the boys were watching a video projected on a bed sheet stretched between two trees outside my office. They preferred action films, which they commented on as much as they wanted, because they did not understand the dialogues. But that evening, short of a film that would make them unanimous, I played them a cartoon, a VHS cassette – probably illegal – bought in the streets of Dar es Salaam. I feared their boredom, even their recriminations… In fact, there was even more noise than usual. I had trouble concentrating on my work in the office. Then, at some point, total silence, just the sound of the film that I hadn’t perceived from the beginning. Intrigued, I went out to see what was happening… They were all glued to the screen, as if hypnotized by what they saw and heard.

The “Lion King” is Simba’s story, from his birth to his ultimate vocation as “King of the Jungle”, in the noblest sense of the role – a protective king, a provider, a servant, a king respected and loved by his subjects….

Initiated by his father, King Mufasa, the young Simba took advantage of his leisurely years. But one day, he leads his childhood friend, the young lioness Nala, to explore a taboo place, forbidden for a good reason, it was an elephant cemetery, haunted by death. His father had warned him, however. His uncle Scar, unworthy brother of King Mufasa, took advantage of his young nephew’s innocent mischief and devised a diabolical plan to get rid of both the King and his heir to take over royal power. He puts Simba in mortal danger, forcing Mufasa to take great risks to save his son. With a little help from Scar, Mufasa will die there. Scar will deceive Simba by declaring him guilty of his father’s death and advise him to leave… far away… never to return again. Simba ran away… far into the desert where he was taken in, dying, by Pumba, a warthog whom no one wanted to approach anymore and by Timon the meerkat, a species of small mongoose that lived in the Namibian desert. Both were living carefree in the desert, singing and dancing, feeding on all kinds of insects and plants. They will introduce Simba to the same lifestyle, teaching him the song that reflected their philosophy so well: “Hakuna matata”, all you have to do is let yourself live and enjoy…

Meanwhile, Scar took power over the people of the Jungle, but instead of being a protective and providing king, he abused the environment and the people until he completely exhausted the common resources, forcing all the inhabitants of the jungle into true slavery, just to survive. Simba’s childhood friend Nala decided to go looking for him. But when she found him, he only complained about his own guilt. An important character then appears: Rafiki, the monkey who symbolizes the priest in the story of the Lion King – he was the one who introduced the newborn Simba to the people of the Jungle and anointed him as the King’s heir… Rafiki finds Simba lost in the idleness of a sad and wasteful life; he puts him to the test. And when Simba lamented that he had caused his father’s death, Rafiki revealed to him that his Father was alive and well. Perplexed, Simba followed Rafiki through brambles and bushes to a piece of water. “Shh, shh, quiet… You want to see your father? Look in the water!” Simba’s excitement quickly turned to disappointment when he only saw the reflection of his own face, but Rafiki insisted: “Look… deeper… He lives in you, he lives in me. He watches over everything we see. Into the waters, into the truth. In your reflection, he lives in you.” This little Oasis in the heart of the desert, became the holy ground of the Encounter, where Simba hears anew his Father’s call that he is to be the protective and providing King. He set out to challenge and defeat the traitor Scar and restore a kingdom of balance, prosperity, justice and peace.

It was on Mount Horeb that Moses met the Lord in the burning bush, the holy ground from which he drew the necessary strength to return to Egypt and deliver his people from slavery. Street kids are not just poor abandoned children. Many were educated and shaped by Pumbas and Timons. But some of them that evening set out again on the path of Life. I know, I crossed their path years later.

I invite each of us to ask ourselves: What is my Mission today? Where do I go from here? And every time I stop in silence in holy ground, it is the Father who calls me to take the path of Life again.

Twenty-five years after the release of the cartoon “The Lion King”, the same movie but completely remastered, more real than ever, is now being released on the big screen around the world. I can only invite you to go and watch it as a pilgrimage… or a little retreat.

Philippe Docq, M.Afr.

Blessed are you poor people


Theme of the year 2019 in Lourdes
150th anniversary of the M.Afr.

Georges Paquet, M.Afr.

“Blessed are you poor people! “I prefer another translation: “How lucky for you poor people…” But what poor people? I have met many “poor” people in Tanzania and for 20 years now in France among migrants – I have seen that some can be harsh, aggressive, violent, even towards the other poor! But who are ” the poor who alone possess the Kingdom of Heaven ” (Madeleine Delbrel). Certainly not those who claim to be “in a valley of tears and in exile on earth”, as it is still sung in Latin… Yes, how lucky for you Bernadette Soubirou when you say of your parents: “as long as they do not get stuck.” You’d rather see your parents struggle to get by than see them in the hands of the city’s bourgeoisie – who tried to trap you with nice clothes. You understood that the essential thing was what you lived with your loved ones, loving relationship, prayer in the family and later in a religious community. “I praise you, Father, for hiding this from the wise and understanding, and for revealing it to the little ones. “(Lk 10:21)

And this voice that called you “you” allowed you to remain yourself in front of the world of false great ones like Zola and others… You have nothing to give but a message, heard in the depths of your heart: “I am not here to make you believe it, but just to tell you”. “This is what I witnessed in Africa:” Everyone has the right to hear Jesus’ message and then to do with it what he wants. ” (Kila mtu ana haki ya kusikia maneno ya Yesu, na baadaye ya kufanya kama anavyotaka.)

I, who was not born into poverty, how am I challenged when I say: ” How lucky are you poor people? I want to be with you to fight against poverty, destitution and I will be able to do so if I can do it with as much passion and love as Bernadette…. 140 years after her death, see what technique and a lot of love can achieve: look at this excerpt from this summer’s show in Lourdes with Eyma… who is 16 years old.

The Kingdom is living the present moment, being a creator with the Creator. We are not happy in the world of selfishness, of hatred.  “The other world” is where there is love.

It is up to everyone to listen to the Voice, which is right next to you.

A bit of history: 

    • 1830: the miraculous medal “O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to you. » 
    • 7.01.1844 : birth of Bernadette Soubirou
    • 1854: the dogma of the immaculate conception

“No doubt the expression Immaculate Conception struck her ears, in church, on the feast of December 8. But in these sermons delivered in French (a foreign language)… it is an unknown notion for her…” (p. 123). “Bernadette had a rosary of 2 cents bought in 1856 in Betharram, she knew how to pray it in French; she also knew this invocation that was said at the evening prayer: “O Mary conceived without sin…” (p.48).

    • The apparitions from 11.02 to 16.07.1858 – “I saw something white, Aquéro (that or this one, depending on the accent) has the shape of a small maiden ( damiséle)” (p.78).
    • “On June 3, 1859, she made her first communion. In July, a young lawyer, Charles Madon, talks with Bernadette: “and your secrets, what is it about? – They concern only me – and if the Pope asked you, would you tell him? – No…” (p.140) What if his secret was the way Aquéro understood the meaning of “immaculada councepciou”?
    • “Great difficulty for his canonization! In the summer of 1861, on the first floor of the sisters’ hospice, she ordered a little girl, a certain Julie: “I throw my hoof out the window. You go get it and bring strawberries. ” (from the garden below) (p.159) “I can’t meditate… but she started in the long run. » (p.161) “ 4.04.1864: Bernadette says she wants to be a religious
    • 7.07.1866: she is in Nevers
    • 16.04.1879: Bernadette dies

Quotations in “Vie de Bernadette” by René Laurentin, Desclée de Brouwer (1978)

    • Charles Lavigerie was born in Bayonne on 30.10.1825, in the same century. He was Archbishop of Algiers in 1867 and Cardinal in 1882.
    • On 1.07.1888, in Paris, he launched his anti-slavery campaign. The wording of “Temps” wrote: “The cardinal destroyed almost entirely the overly brief notions we had about the state of the slave trade.”
    • On 19.10.1868, he opened the first novitiate and on 8 December, he named the “Immaculate Conception” patron saint of his new Society of Missionaries of Africa, known as the White Fathers. In 1869, they were the Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Africa ( : Want to be holy?)
    • In 1878, it was the first caravan for East Africa, which would become Tanzania. I would be there in 1971, a hundred years after the explorer Stanley (not St Stanley, another American martyr).
    • In Chavanay, in 1878, my family erected a statue of Mary, with these words on the base: “Holy Mary of the star, I am the bright gold, the brightness of noon, the last ray of the evening. Hail Mary 1878. »
Notre Dame de la Grande gorge – above the Rhône, facing the sunrise.

Read my poem « Marie » in 

Georges Paquet, M.Afr.
Tanzania 1971 – 1998.

Bruno Ruzuzi R.I.P.

Brothers, I’m sad to inform you of the death of our stagiaire Bruno Ruzuzi doing stage at Nyankpala parish Tamale. He was involved in an accident with our Theology student Salvator Mbonihankuye when returning from Tamale on their motorcycle in the night and collided with another vehicle (motorking). Bruno died on the spot and Salvator, injured, was admitted at the Tamale teaching hospital. We are going to the mortuary Where the body of Bruno will be laid to rest until the funerals. Pray for Bruno, pray for his family and all of us.

It is with these words that John Aserbire, Superior Provincial of Ghana Nigeria, announced the accident through the GhN WhatsApp network this morning. From all of us in Rome, best condolences to Bruno’s family, to his community, to the parishioners of Nyankpala Parish and to the Provinces of GhN and PAC. We prayed for him during our morning mass. Our best wishes of speedy recovery to Salvator Mbonihankuye. 

Adiós Padre Martínez

Last December and January I was in Mali and participated in the farewell ceremony to our confrere Jesus Martinez at the parish of Kati, not far from Bamako. It was a very beautiful celebration and Jesus himself gave us a beautiful homily. His parish priest and the president of the parish council then offered fine words of appreciation. I thought it was a good idea not to let these fine words fall into oblivion. With the permission of these 3 people I copied what they then offered.

Martin Grenier, M.Afr.

Mission accomplished: Forgive me and thank you!

Brothers and sisters, I thank you with all my heart for coming to help me thank the Lord by celebrating this Mass of thanksgiving for the 55 years that the Lord has given me to live with you… to look at my whole life with the eyes of gratitude.

As the Wise Man says in the Bible: “There is a time to stay, there is a time to leave”…

Old age is a new stage in my life, and becoming old can be learned. It takes courage… God is the God of exodus, the God of departure; we must embark on new paths, and whatever happens, “everything is grace”… What matters in life is not where you are, but where you are going, with whom you are going in that direction and for what. The mission is not ours, it is entrusted to us for a time only; our first work is to pray. “He who relies on God will not remain empty-handed. Coming into the world is not difficult, but crossing it…. Let us ask for the grace to be able to confide in Him.

I would like to share with you a few words about what has marked my life with you. First of all, I apologize, because I could have worked more and better. I didn’t thank God enough for the life he gave me. I didn’t like enough those who were by my side. The two words of thanks: Thank you above all to God who led me by his hand. Thank you to the Cardinal, all my gratitude, Bishop, gratitude to my family, my brothers in the priesthood…. I would like my departure to be joyful, because joy is a sign of the Kingdom, and if the departure is sad, it is not evangelical.

I felt very loved by you and I too tried to respond to that love. The best thing I have ever had in my life, it was Mali that gave it to me and in turn, I can say that I too have given Mali the best of myself… My missionary life has had two priorities: vocations (of priests, religious, catechists and lay people) and social pastoral care. What gave me strength and courage was the Gospel passage: “I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty… “Together, we have built many wells, schools, dams, mills, some churches, radios.

We are missionaries wherever we are… even if it takes courage to commit ourselves to new ways of life… There is a Providence. The best is yet to come, we must open our arms and welcome the future, keep the smile as a reflection of the smile that God continually has on us.

I would have liked to stay with you and continue to baptize our children, to continue to live with you, but when the superiors decide, obedience is essential. The spirituality of our time is a Holy Saturday spirituality; on the one hand confusion, discouragement, helplessness and on the other hand faith in darkness and the power of hope, perseverance. Old age is for the brave… It is to become a child again who lets himself be led by God… to adapt to God’s program and leave ours. Even if my heart is bleeding, I think that with you and thanks to you I can say “Mission accomplished”, Pardon and Thank you! May God give us to love what he loves. That we always accept the destinies that providence has on us. May the worries of life not discourage us.

May the Lord help us to keep our lamp lit.

Jesús Martínez

This is the essence of Father Jesús Martínez’s homily on the day of his “goodbye” to his family in Mali. The text has been shortened and a little edited to make it easier to read. But these are his words. (ed.)

Below are some excerpts from two testimonies given during the same thanksgiving mass on the occasion of the departure of Father Jesús Martínez.

 M. Valéry Dako

Chairperson of the Kati PArish Council

A golden jubilee journey on African soil in Mali is worth a distinction to the person who has accomplished this journey. We know you’re humble, but accept it that way. Let us go back a long way, a long way back and we find your youthful years with their share of enthusiasm, zeal and hope in the actions taken for the accomplishment of the mission. When you arrived in the country, Father Martinez, you blended into the mass of bwa by taking the name of Matièrê which represents the symbolism of work… You have visited all the parishes of the current Diocese of San: the parish of Mandiakuy, Tominian, Timissa and Touba, in whose erection you have actively participated, as well as its economic and spiritual development…

Then your steps led you to the Archdiocese of Bamako with a presence in the parishes of Kolokani, Faladje and Kati which happens to be the mother parish of the diocese of Bamako. You have taken in Bamanan country the name of DOMAKONO which can be translated simply by the person who waits one day, what day? May this day be intimately linked to the will of your master whom you have cherished intensely.

We have walked together with the objective of seeking God. What a journey we have made! Today, we are at another important turning point.

There are so many routes that you have taken between the CCBs of Koko, Malibougou, Kati Centre, Missions I, II and the “Camp pour le Seigneur”. There are so many ways that you also used to reach rural communities (Kalifabougou, Neguela, Yékébougou etc…) for evangelization…

The parish of Kati, your family, has adopted you. You have evolved by working for its different segments: catechesis, human families, parish councils, choirs, women’s and youth groups, the Queen of Peace radio as a means of evangelization, etc…

Father DOMAKONO, you have… advised, coaxed, soothed, consoled, comforted various people through your pastoral and human encounters. The joy of living given to others is the one the Lord expected from you for others.

Father DOMAKONO, the Kati Parish Council warmly thanks you for all you have been given to do in the context of the harmonious building of the Family of God Church in Mali. May the Lord himself be your shepherd on the day.

 THANK YOU Father DOMAKONO, We give you as a sign of gratitude a Ciwara mask with your engraved name (Father Martinez, Parish of Kati, Grateful). You also have a traditional boubou with its multi-eared cap to protect you from the elements.

Father DOMAKONO, Ala ka hèra kè kè i gnè, friend a ka hèra fon i ko.

Father DOMAKONO, Débwenou a oumanou gnou lou.

(Only God is able to provide water to termites when making their termite mounds.)

Rev. Émile Konare

Parish Priest of Kati

The way of life, the meaning that one gives to one’s life, that is what makes man’s misfortune or happiness. The wise Qohèleth tells us, and I quote: “Man works for his mouth. And yet the appetite is never satisfied. ” What then is capable of fulfilling man’s desire? Jesus, the Son of God, traces for us the path by which man has access to happiness: the path to the justice of the Kingdom. What is it about? As the first attitudes announced by Jesus, it is to be poor (or humble, or even humiliated), to be gentle (without violence?), to be afflicted, to be hungry and thirsty for justice ! If the prophets denounced those who practiced injustice, Jesus declares happy those who place the concern for justice at the centre of their lives. What is promised to us is nothing less than the joy of a filial relationship with God….

Father Martinez, you were ordained in 1962, and you have been in Mali, San and Bamako, and even one year in Mauritania, 56 years of your life, of your priestly life, to show to the Malian man, African, your fellow man, the face of our Christian faith: Jesus Christ who has only one Name: God-loving…. Father Jesús, for 55 years you have had the desire to live according to what God asks for by becoming the architect of the evolution of social works. You have helped Malian people, of all faiths, to see and recognize the face of God in their fellow human beings… through a life of concrete Love: Health Centres for the sick,… school structures to fight illiteracy, wells to give water to those who are thirsty,… You listened and considered the joys and sorrows of the Malian man who came to you in the hope of achieving a stable and dignified life. Finally, priestly vocations. Every priestly ordination is a source of pride for you. This is to say that you carry within you this desire to see young Malians consecrate themselves to God.

The realization of everything… is due to… your attitudes or, if you wish, the “beatitudes” that you have embodied and among which we can retain: patience, perseverance and humility. Blessed are the peacemakers. Man cannot become a peacemaker without embodying in himself patience, perseverance and humility, especially in a foreign land.

Father Jesús, on behalf of the entire Parish, I would like to express our deep gratitude to you for all the beautiful services rendered to the Catholic Church in Mali. Be assured of our affection, thoughts and prayers for this new life that is beginning.

It is therefore necessary to tell you that the doors of Mali are always open to you.

E nana Ala kof, Mali denq yé, Ala ka i Iakana.
(Father, you have come to announce God to the children of Mali, may God keep you and protect you).
E yé danaya kofo anw yé, Ala ka i ka dana baba.
(You have come to bring us faith, may God strengthen your faith).
E nana san biduru ani woro som, Mali jamanan konon, Ala da Mali jamanan gnèmajo.
(And you came to spend 55 years in Mali, may God grant Mali stability).
Maria Senu ka a jantoi la. | neither cé. l nor baraji.
(May the Virgin Mary protect you, thank you very much).

If you prefer to read the original texts of these interventions in French, here they are :