On 25th May 2021 Fr. Stanley Lubungo, Superior General, hosted at the Generalate in Rome a meeting presided by Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, Minister of State at the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office and the Prime Minister’s Envoy for Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict and Minister for Human Rights who was accompanied by the British Ambassador to the Holy See, Sally Axworthy. Were also present Sr. Sheila Kinsey, FCJM, Executive Co-Secretary JPIC Commission, John Dardis, SJ, and a few other people. Lord Ahmed gave an overview and update on the Declaration of Humanity by Leaders of Faiths and Leaders of Beliefs and the UK priorities in terms of the effort to end sexual violence in conflict. Our confrere Bernard Ugeux has been actively involved in the campaign Preventing sexual violence in conflict and contributed to the drafting of the above mentioned declaration.
Homily of the Superior General on the 8th December
“Under the protection of Mary Immaculate Queen of Africa”
As all the Missionaries of Africa, as well as theirs sisters, the Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Africa, were celebrating, throughout the world, the feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, official feast of our two institutes, the two communities of Rome were celebrating around the two Superiors General and their council. Here is the homily given on the day by Father Stan Lubungo.
The 8th of December we celebrate the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary in communion with the whole Church. It is also the Patron Feast of our Society and that of our Sisters, the Missionary Sisters of our Lady of Africa because our Founder had, in the early years of our history, placed our two institutes under the protection of Mary Immaculate Queen of Africa. On this occasion, our community of the Generalate is in communion of prayer with all our confreres wherever they are in the world entrusting them to the intercession of our Lady whom we invoke as our protector. As disciples of Jesus, we welcome the Virgin Mary as our mother to whom Jesus presented us as her children (See John 19:26). Like all our good mothers, the Virgin Mary faithfully provides us with the maternal care she had for her son Jesus. As we celebrate our Patron Feast, we also contemplate our brotherhood with Jesus with whom we are, as his disciples, sons of Mary.
The Immaculate Conception of Mary is one of those teachings of the Church that we have difficulties to establish clearly from the Scriptures. Today’s Gospel (Luke 1:26-38) invites more a reflection on the virginal conception of Jesus than it does on the Immaculate conception of his mother. However, it seems to me that the second reading (Ephesians), that doesn’t mention the Virgin Mary, provides us with a possible, significant and interesting ground to capture the meaning of today’s feast, not only for the Virgin Mary but for all of us but too. It would be useless for us to be celebrating the Virgin Mary for her own sake and today’s feast not having anything to do with us.
In the perspective offered by the Second Reading, Mary participates in the eternal will of God who “chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love”. It comes out more strongly in French: “Il nous a choisis, dans le Christ, avant la fondation du monde, pour que nous soyons saints, immaculés devant lui, dans l’amour !”. Far from being anything exclusively reserved to the Virgin Mary, the call to be holy and blameless, the Immaculate Conception seems, from before the foundations of the world, to be intended for all.
Our experience is different, though. Ours is the experience of the first reading (Genesis 3:9-15. 20). It is an experience marked by sin, by disobedience to God’s will that can be traced down to our ancestors Adam and Eve. Fortunately, today’s feast is here to remind us that God did not abandon us in the sin, so to speak, we inherited with Eve, the mother of all who live (and with Adam the father of all who live). With Mary, the new Eve as Irene of Lyon referred to her, there is a somewhat new creation. This is quite striking. Studies in Mariology demonstrate enough how in the Virgin Mary, God establishes a new beginning. Renowned Theologians of Mary agree that the Gospel according to Luke describes the beginnings of the life of Jesus almost totally in Old Testament terms, in order to show from within, that the Jesus event is the accomplishment of what Israel was hoping for. Indeed the words with which the Angel greets Mary are closely related to those used by the prophet Zephaniah addressing the redeemed Jerusalem of the eschatological times (Zephaniah 3: 14 – Sing aloud, O daughter of Zion, shout O Israel! Rejoice and exult with all your heart O daughter Jerusalem!) In the pericope of the Gospel proposed today, Luke equally takes up words of blessing which were used to greet famous women of Israel like Judith to whom Uzziah says: O Daughter, you are blessed by the Most high God above all other women; and blessed be the Lord God, who created heaven and earth (See Judges 5:24; Jdt 13:18).
The Virgin Mary is such portrayed as the Holy Rest of Israel, the real Zion to whom everyone looked up with hope amidst the miseries of their history. In the Gospel of Saint Luke begins the new Israel with Mary. She is the “daughter of Zion” in whom God establishes a new beginning. Mary comes across as the mother of all who are called to live in Jesus Christ.
The feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary reveals the fulfilment of God’s project for humanity to be holy and blameless through Jesus Christ. Isn’t the Virgin Mary the perfect example of what each one of us is called to be? Unlike Eve, she is obedient to the will of God. Mary is not only for us to venerate, but a model of life. In modelling our lives on hers, we will fulfil our vocation as human beings, called to be holy by remaining attentive and obedient to the will of God and through our steadfastness in the faith.
Stanley Lubungo, M.Afr
Many confreres made their oath on the feast of the Immaculate Conception. Happy feastday to all. Among those, our Superior General, Stan Lubungo, ans Stephen Ofonikot, who celebrated 24 years of Missionary Oath.
Cardinal’s Day 2020
Ten days from the Feast of the Society, the anniversary of Cardinal Lavigerie’s death is always an occasion to give the first place to the one who had the vision for our Mission. Father André-Léon Simonart gave us the homily during the Solemn mass of Cardinal’s Day.
As Qohelet says: There is a time for everything under heaven. We have gone through a time of preparation for the jubilee of our missionary institutes. We have had some beautiful celebrations. Now the time has come for apostolic action. It is the time for the commitments that our missionary institutes are embarking upon, as a follow-up of our Jubilee celebrations, to be realised. Such commitments have two major characteristics. They are inspired and motivated by our charism and they are intended as a response to appeals and challenges coming especially from Africa.
I single out three such commitments. The first one is at the level of “our common home” as Pope Francis likes to call our world. It is an ambitious project of the whole Church, spread over seven years and meant to foster an integral ecology. Here we work with many other congregations and local Churches, with people of good will, all taking part in the campaign “Laudato sí in action”. Andreas and the General Council shared about it.
The second is about to be realised as the first White Sisters and the first confreres have started to move. It is the project that our institutes chose to mark our jubilee in a meaningful apostolic way. It is a project of the two institutes together. It is about being on the margins, among refugees in the north of Uganda.
The third project, specific to each of our two institutes, concerns the further appropriation of the charism that Cardinal Lavigerie bequeathed to us.
During the Plenary Council, last November, in Kampala, Brother Reginald, a Xaverian brother, made a brilliant presentation on charism. At the end he left us with four questions. The first is about spirituality. What are the different spiritualities, he asked, behind Cardinal Lavigerie’s spiritual intuitions? The second refers to personal dispositions. Reginald put it this way: According to Cardinal Lavigerie, what should the dispositions be of those who want to follow Christ as Missionaries of Africa? The third is about our identity, about who we are in front of Jesus, our one and only love. And the last one is about the practical consequences of the two previous questions: how does a M.Afr. organise his daily life, what is his lifestyle?
As we celebrate Cardinal’s Day, let us recollect ourselves before one or the other of these questions. It is true that our mission is a bit special. We are here either to study and likely to prepare ourselves for a new task, or we are here for helping with the general administration of our institutes. All the same, all of us we are engaged in mission.
Let us recall what our founder wanted our identity to be as missionaries and apostles. The question is not the one Jesus put to Peter when he asked him “who am I for you”, but “who am I for Jesus? Who am I in front of Jesus?” Starting out from there, we may then like to see with which inner dispositions, in which spirit, we are to assume the tasks and responsibilities which are ours today.
The Gospel of this celebration helps us to recall who we are for Christ and the first reading reminds us of the apostolic ideal of Saint Paul, an ideal our Founder Cardinal Lavigerie reminded us of so often and which he himself lived by so generously. Let us ask him to obtain this grace for us.
Pour vous tenir au courant : sur fond vert, ceux qui sont déjà ordonnés - sur fond orange, ceux qui doivent être ordonnés.
"Rejoice, for your names are written in heaven" (Luke 10:20).
After returning from the places where we were blocked during the confinement brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic, we, as General Council, wished to celebrate a mass in memory of all our confreres who died since the beginning of the confinements. When Father Gotthard Rosner, Superior General of the Society from 1992 to 1998 passed away on 2 September 2020, we decided to honour his memory and to pray for him and for all the confreres who have died since the beginning of the confinements. There are forty of them in all! It’s a lot in six months. Some succumbed to Covid-19. Others have died from other illnesses. But they all share one thing in common: they past away during a period where it has been impossible to organise a normal funeral for them. In this evening’s Eucharistic celebration we want to pray for all of them as we begin our activities together again in Rome.
We were sad to hear of the deaths of our confreres and especially for our communities not to be able to say goodbye to them in the usual way. Today, it is a song of thanksgiving that we address to God for their long lives consecrated to the Mission in Africa and for the African world. The youngest among them in missionary life had fifty three years of missionary oath and the oldest seventy two. Like the seventy-two disciples sent by Jesus, most of them came back full of joy telling how even the evil spirits submitted to them in His name. And we are witnesses to what they did! Yet this is not the reason why we rejoice and give thanks. We rejoice because their names are written in heaven (Luke 10:17-20). We give thanks to God who first called them and made them grow in their love for him and in their relationship with him. They remain for us, above all, witnesses of this faith.
Father Gotthard Rosner, who died on September 2, is the latest of the confreres to return to the Father. He was a member of our Generalate community as Superior General of the Society. In celebrating this Eucharist for him and in associating in it all the other confreres who have died in recent months, we recognise the role he played in his mission at the service of confreres and we symbolise this by placing the names of the other confreres around his. Among the names of those for whom we pray tonight is that of Father Jean-Claude Ceillier with whom he served on the General Council.
Having spent several years in our houses of formation Father Gotthard is known to many confreres. Many confreres, but also other people who knew him, have testified to his very human sense and the compassion he felt for the people to whom we are sent. He was ready to listen and to accompany. A man with a big heart, he was a source of inspiration for many. As Superior General, Father Gotthard lived through very difficult times such as the genocide in Rwanda, the death of our blessed confreres in Tizi Ouzou and the overthrow of the Mobutu regime in the Democratic Republic of Congo. All these events strongly affected the confreres in those countries as well as the Society as a whole.
May the souls of our deceased confreres through the mercy of God, rest in peace!
At the beginning of the pastoral year 2020-2021, in memory of Father Gothard Rosner, Superior General of the Society of Missionaries of Africa from 1992 to 1998, who passed away on 2nd September 2020, and in memory of all our confreres who have returned to the Father from the period of lockdowns, a Mass will be celebrated in the Chapel of the Generalate of the Society in Rome on Wednesday 16th of September 2020 at 18:00 hours.
Join us on this day, wherever you are, in praying for our confreres.
Confreres who died since the beginning of the lockdown in Rome (March 9th, 2020)
|Eugenio Bacaicoa A.||21/07/2020|
|Lucen Van Wielendaele||20/05/2020|
|Ger van Dieten||17/05/2020|
|Martínez López Antonio||05/04/2020|
|Fançois de Gaulle||02/04/2020|
|Jan van Haandel||12/03/2020|
Feast of the Martyrs of Algeria
On 8 May, together with the universal Church, let us give thanks to God for the evangelical witness in Algeria of the Blessed Martyrs of Algeria, especially for the four Missionary of Africa confreres among them. By proclaiming them blessed, Pope Francis gave them to the whole Church as examples to be followed of Christian charity in Muslim countries. May they be especially for each one of us an inspiration for a missionary life given in total love of the peoples to whom we are sent.