News from the PAC sectors

Flash PAC n° 45 – Echos du Conseil Provincial du 23 au 28 avril 2018 (restreint aux confrères)

BURUNDI

The government is determined to hold a referendum on May 17. Many people are afraid of the insecurity that would precede or accompany the referendum. However, despite the Burundian political crisis, there are repatriations of refugees from Tanzania and Rwanda, and the dollar rate has fallen slightly. There is a fuel shortage here and there. Military and police patrol more than usual. As for the situation of the Church, we have had the circulation of a leaflet on whatsapp which highlights that the number of Hutu bishops is much higher than that of Tutsi. For this reason, the author of the leaflet asks that new Tutsi bishops be appointed to create an ethnic balance. Despite this observation, the bishops of Burundi are united.

LUBUMBASHI

In the former Katanga region, as throughout the national territory, in December and January there were marches or attempted marches to demand respect for the Constitution and the holding of elections; as with most of these demonstrations, there was violent repression. At the church of St. Bernadette, a confrontation was reported between some members of political parties and police officers: throwing stones and bludgeoning. It all began at the exit of the Sunday Mass on 21 January 2018 when the promoters of the march began to shout slogans to push the crowd of Christians into the procession; immediately the situation degenerated and the police incursion reached as far as the church. The arrival of the Monusco has calmed spirits and calm has returned.

In the districts of the city and especially those on the outskirts, organized robberies, sometimes followed by rape and murder, are commonplace and there is no real commitment on the part of the authorities to try to eradicate them. The main roads around Kalemie have become dangerous because of armed groups; this blocks road traffic.

The major event was the celebration of the 25th anniversary of the episcopal ordination of Mgr Jean-Pierre Tafunga from 31 January to 4 February 2018. The main celebration took place at the T.P. Mazembe stadium with the participation of 20,000 Christians (full stadium) and about fifteen bishops. Despite the tense political situation, everything went well.

Another major event is announced for 2020: the National Eucharistic Congress. The current effort of the Diocese of Lubumbashi is concentrated on the construction of the Pastoral Centre, which began with the laying of the first stone in 2014, now a Roofing Contractor is working on redoing the roof for this amazing new Pastoral Center.

GOMA

The diocese of Goma succeeded in mobilizing young people for the Diocesan Youth Day and involving political actors in peace-building: there was a direct dialogue with the governor of the province.

The diocese organizes days of formation and sessions for pastoral agents, the faithful, parish secretaries, etc.

Christians are well involved in the activities of the diocese, in the care of their parishes and pastors.

The Karambi parish priest was kidnapped on Easter day and released on the night of 4 April 2018 after paying a ransom. The parish priest of Kitshanga was murdered on the 2nd Sunday of Easter in one of his outstations.

A Protestant pastor attacked the Catholic Church in his church and on his radio station with insults, words unworthy of a pastor. After a complaint from the Catholic Church, this pastor was arrested and imprisoned as a troublemaker and incitator of hatred. He was also involved in the kidnapping of a musician from Goma and in the fraud.

Relations between the Church and the State are conflictual.

The march organized by the diocesan lay committee following the call of CENCO was not supported by the diocese. For the Bishop, Goma is an area of fracture which has always known problems, troubles to which no one has ever been able to find answers to restore peace. As a result, he is not ready to engage his diocese in an arm wrestling match with the state. The construction of the new cathedral of the diocese is partly taken in charge by the First Lady of the country, which puts the Bishop in a delicate situation. It can only close its eyes to political realities. Construction stopped for several months.

ITURI

In Mahagi, it is a situation of fear and insecurity. A growing number of displaced people are seeking to go to Uganda to find refugee status abroad. The cost of living is becoming very high. There are many displaced people in Mahagi territory near the parish of Angumu (Mahagi Port).

Through conferences, visits of the displaced in the camps, the Mahagi Church tries to be present to the people by motivating them to hold on in difficult times.

In Bunia there is a climate of fear, mistrust and discontent because of the large number of displaced people and people killed during the crisis. The population is disappointed with its leaders. Aid is provided by the Church (Caritas) in some IDP camps. Some families have opened their doors to the displaced, as has our parish in Yambi (Pukpa). The sector intervenes materially thanks to the financial support received from Rome. The parish is also involved through the Christians who are close to these displaced people.

For the government, the situation is that of an interethnic war and for the Church, it is a manipulation of people to make them believe in an interethnic war and the governor would be behind all this.

Currently, the government is forcing people against their will, to return to their villages to make the camps for the displaced disappear in the city but in vain: the displaced return to the nearest camps as soon as they arrive in the village where they do not feel at all protected.

The consecrated men of the Deanery of the North of Bunia meet in Bunia. The parishes of Lita, Jiba and Pimbo are closed. Fataki and Drodro are full of displaced people, Mongbwalu and Bambu are idling.

On Palm Sunday the JDJ took place with about 8,000 young people around the bishop who gave them courage and urged them not to let their freedom be stolen.

The parish of Yambi Yaya has 25 villages for 14,000 Christians, it is almost a year old since it was erected by His Excellency Bishop Dieudonné Uringi. The construction of the rectory in the parish is progressing well. Construction work on the bishopric continues and is progressing well.

RWANDA

Life seems to be going well after the presidential elections that took place in August 2017. There have been some changes in government. Many meetings in the socio-political framework take place in Kigali Convention Center. Many roads are paved in Nyamirambo and Kicyukiro districts, roads are widened in Kigali, schools and hospitals are built, people are encouraged in agriculture, transport and security in general.

De nouvelles constructions et quartiers continuent à pousser presque partout dans le pays mais aussi des anciennes maisons ou bâtiments sont détruits, soit qu’ils ne vont pas avec la vision 2020, soit qui ont été construits sans autorisation de bâtir validement donnée par l’autorité compétente.

Economically we feel that life continues to become more and more expensive even though we find many things on the spot. Many conditions and taxes are imposed even for small businesses; it is difficult for the small people to find what they need. Many are starting to leave Kigali for the countryside or other countries where they can do business without paying much tax. It seems that the city of Kigali is becoming more and more a city for the rich. In early 2018, the government closed around 700 churches that had no official papers and no facilities to meet and pray.

The Church of Rwanda dedicated this year to reconciliation and the diocese of Kigali, in its pastoral vision, has taken the option for children and young people because they are the future of the Church.

The Church has lost the Bishop of Cyangugu Diocese, Mgr Jean Damascène Bimenyimana, who died on 11 March 2018.

On March 24, 2018, the jubilee year of the 100th anniversary of the Benebikira Sisters, founded by our confrere Bishop Jean Joseph Hirth, began.

Saint Peter’s Parish is preparing to celebrate its 15th anniversary this June. The parish now has 14,000 baptized Catholic Christians and 25 CEB’s. For Justice and Peace, our parish is among the two parishes that have been chosen as models in the Archdiocese of Kigali. It takes the orientation of family and social cases, not political ones. So, with its limited means, the parish is doing what it can for Caritas.

The CML project (Centre Missionnaire Lavigerie) was presented to the town planning office of the city of Kigali for approval but it was not approved by saying that according to the plan of the Muhima sector in which our plot is located, this plot is reserved to make the Holy Family Garden, a public garden. But in December 2017, after a long dialogue with the civil authorities of the city, the Mayor and his vice, explaining that we are a missionary congregation (and not diocesans of the nearby Holy Family Parish), they asked us to write a letter of call asking for “the change of land use”. The letter was written and sent to the Mayor of the city on 10/12/2017. After this letter, the director with the one in charge of the technique at the city level, called us to tell us that it is necessary to review our project. It is a question of reducing the space to be built up to 10% and in the rest to make a garden for meditation. Thus, in the Rwanda sector, agreement was reached to remove all commercial buildings from the project in order to remain with the residence, the training centre and the chapel in the lower part as on the old project. The garden remains but is no longer public, it is for the Missionaries of Africa. Case to follow…

KINSHASA

We are seeing a lull in political demonstrations. The population continues to suffer. Poverty (especially in outlying neighbourhoods) is still on the rise. The Congolese Franc has lost value and food prices are rising. A truce was marked until June in the marches organized by the Comité Laïc de Coordination (CLC). There is also a boiling point at the political party level with groupings and coalitions in preparation for the December 23 elections. There is an awakening of consciences about political life, of the population and also of young people. Some people have doubts about the actual organisation of elections.

Two forms of fraud are becoming a concern: the theft of computers and other electronic gadgets from small taxis and false accusations made by girls or women against generous drivers who give them a hand on the road.

The Church of Kinshasa received its coadjutor: Bishop Fridolin Ambongo, on Sunday 11 March 2018 in the Cathedral of Notre Dame du Congo. Two of the three Auxiliary Bishops of the Archdiocese have been appointed titular bishops in two dioceses. The Church supported the three major marches organized by the Lay Coordinating Committee to demand the full implementation of the New Sylvester 2016 agreements. The three marches were banned and were violently repressed in the blood with loss of human life. Following the marches, a climate of insecurity had settled in Kinshasa with intimidation of Catholics, arrests of laity, priests and nuns, desecration of places of worship, stigmatization of the Catholic Church… The Cardinal went out several times from his reserve to condemn violence and encourage Christians during times of tension. At the Palm Sunday Mass at the stadium with the young people, he invited them to take responsibility for the crisis in the country. Some Protestant churches have supported the Catholic Church in its initiatives.

The diocese of Kisantu (diocese of insertion of the Philosophât) is in diocesan synod from 2 to 7 April 2018.

BUKAVU

Insecurity and crime are on the rise. Weapons are found in some houses. In response, the governor decided on regular closures and more intensive controls, invited the population to denounce gun owners, promised rewards to inform motorcyclists. Motorcyclists are allowed to ride at night provided they report the bandits. The security situation has since calmed down. Poverty is increasing. It’s the struggle for survival. We live day by day. Bars are noticing a drop in consumption.

There is a proliferation of private schools at the expense of Catholic schools. The state refuses to approve new classes and does not pay teachers. The premiums for teachers introduced by the Church are running out of steam due to parents’ lack of capacity.

In higher education, the updated dollar rate is a source of student revolt. For the bishop, January and Februarywere two difficult months. Criticized in his position in relation to the march of December 31, 2017, escorted out of the cathedral, he is far from his people. “I am a traumatized person,” he said. The December 31 and January 21 marches were dispersed and forbidden. The Archdiocese of Bukavu has initiated a prayer chain for peace: each parish has its week of animation in turn.

The CDJP (Diocesan Committee for Justice and Peace) denounces injustices with its flash. He was attacked by the government, accused of provoking the uprising of the population. Tensions arise between the religious and the administration following the collection of property taxes.

The Ruzizi community has experienced more insecurity with the increase in thefts, a burglary at Father Raphaël Lubala’s home and another at Father Emmanuel Lengaigne’s home. As safety measures, a dog has been put on the side of the canoeists and there are plans to plant thorny sisals, put a grid, light at night. The community received the visit of the Superior General who was very open. The Provincial made a week-long visit which went well with many exchanges, including with the Christian community.

The DGM (General Direction for Migrations) built on the Ruzizi site. A file was prepared with the diocesan lawyer to file a complaint against this occupation of the land by the DGM.

MANIEMA

The warlord of the Mayi Mayi Malaika Sheik Assani, led a movement to demand the exploitation of part of the mountain to the company “Maniema Gold”. The FARDC (DRC Armed Forces) were sent and a three-month war followed. The arrival of MONUSCO (United Nations Stabilization Mission in the Congo) has been announced. The government imposes silence in the face of the war in the province. The director of radio OKAPI was arrested because he had spoken about the war in Maniema. Police officers, or even DGM, return to their stations.

The security crisis affected four parishes: Kabambare, Kibangula, Wamaza and Salamabila in Kabambare territory. The populations did not cultivate there following the war. And that caused a food crisis. The diocese of Kasongo is organizing a special quest in all parishes on May 27, 2018 to support these parishes.

Road degradation limits travel. When it rains, the road becomes more and more impassable. This reinforces the economic crisis. The items are very expensive and take a long time to arrive. Security’s not very good. The military presence, which should be a source of consolation and security, becomes a source of fear and insecurity: rape, exaggerated claims of money to passengers, etc.

In Kindu, the new governor is unable to work because he is not of the presidential majority. The province is affected by polio and cholera. Despite the government’s commitment, the population refuses to cooperate in the vaccination of children. Some are convinced that vaccinations kill their children.

On the social level, tribalism is very present: there are many oppositions when a leader is not from a particular ethnic tribe.

The diocese of Kindu welcomed two new priests on February 11, 2018. The diocese of Kasongo celebrated the priestly ordination of Father Marcel on 27 January 2018 in Kibangula when he had just lost a priest, Father Didace Fundi in Kinshasa.

Faced with the tribalism that exists in the diocese, the bishop continues to evangelize the faithful to accept themselves as brothers and sisters through his homilies, his pastoral letters: this is why he proposes as pastoral theme: “Every man is my brother, every woman is my sister”.

Stagiaires meeting in Bujumbura

Extracts from the 25th March 2018 report of the meeting by Célestin Sarambe and André Sawadogo, first year stagiaires

standing from left to right : Gérard Niyongabo, Lucien Some, Nazaire Bonkoungou, Allan Kawenda, Francis Umoh, Peter Bwire, Jean-Luc Compaore, Julius Rweyemamu, Célestin Sarambe, Hugo Leinz, Martin Ndiritu, Jean-Bosco – brother of Gérard Niyongabo -, Ludwig Peschen, Emmanuel Kavishe, seated in front : Jean-Bosco Ntihebuwayo, Arsène Somda, Joseph Odhiambo, Isac Kinda, André Sawadogo, Dennis Pam

The meeting of stagiaires from the province of Central Africa (PAC) was held in Bujumbura, Burundi from 19 to 25 March 2018 in the Emmaus Spiritual Center of the Jesuits on Kiriri Hill. This meeting was preceded by a week’s retreat held in Gitega from March 10th to 17th, 2018, at the spiritual center of the Carmelites and preached by Father Gérard NIYONGABO. It saw the participation of 16 stagiaires including 8 in the second year who renewed their declaration of intention on Sunday, March 18 at St. Augustine parish of Buyenzi. This meeting was moderated by the vice-provincial, Father Dennis PAM. After setting up and installing, he gave a general orientation and the steps to follow in the sharings. He mentioned that sharing is about all the aspects of the mission. It is about appreciative discernment in optimism while looking at the good that Christ has done to us in our journey. Father Dennis PAM opened these sharing sessions beginning with himself, where he shared his family life, his curriculum with the missionaries of Africa and his missionary experience since his perpetual oath, but also his joys, perspectives and challenges, which he meets in his mission. It should also be noted that this meeting saw the presence as co-facilitator of Father Bosco, superior of the sector of Burundi who also shared his missionary experiences undermined with joys and difficulties.(…)

In the end, what will be remembered of the stagiaires meeting is that it went well in a fraternal atmosphere. Each stagiaire was able to share his experiences in his community and in his stage environment while mentioning the joys and difficulties encountered. We live all this in love, trusting God who sent us for this mission. This meeting ended with a visit to the New Hope Center and a relaxing outing on the beach. Saturday was dedicated to the discovery of the city and on Sunday, March 25 each one of us returned to his community.

Taken from Info-Pac nr 75 of March 2018

My experience in the Maniema Region

Extracts from an article of 15th March 2018 written by Bertin Bouda, in communauty in Lubumbashi

After my annual retreat in Goma, I had the opportunity to visit Maniema as part of my local leave to enjoy and to visit the confreres who are appointed in their mission and to get in touch with their missionary reality. It was an interesting but challenging missionary adventure. My first stop was Tokolote in Kindu. I spent four days there. During my stay in Kindu, I had the opportunity to pray with the Christian community of Tokolote during the morning masses and the Sunday Mass. The morning Mass included thirty people. I would estimate attendance at Sunday Mass at about 500 people. I also had the joy of concelebrating at the priestly ordination Mass of two sons of the Diocese of Kindu; an occasion that brought together the presbyterium who shared a meal after a Thanksgiving Mass presided over by the new priests the day after their ordination. The priests present (almost all, they told me) were fewer than fifty. My second stop was Mingana. From Kindu to Mingana (180 km), we took more than seven hours on a motorcycle with the stagiaire Isac who was driving me. We drove on a road rather poorly maintained, almost impassable, sometimes due to the mud and the stagnant rainwater. I spent three days in Mingana and took a whole day to recover a little from the fatigue. Mingana is a village where there was no telephone network when we arrived. In order to be able to call, one had to travel about ten kilometers to Kunda (Vodacom runs there from the morning to around 18 hours). Nature is pleasant and full of potential for agriculture and gardening in Maniema. Surprisingly, the only common foods are the “ugali” made from cassava flour and rice. In Mingana, I had the joy of presiding at two morning Masses and participating in the Way of the Cross with a hundred Christians (children and adults). My stay in Mingana allowed me to visit the activities in the parish (health center and schools) accompanied by Isac. On the one hand, I note that there is always a great need for evangelization and missionary activities, but on the other hand, I was surprised to hear that the parish had already celebrated 75 years of existence. My last stop was Kipaka 65 km from Mingana. I stayed there for two days. I had the opportunity to preside at the two masses of the first Sunday of Lent. The first mass had a participation of about two hundred people (note that it had rained in the morning and mass began before the end of the rain, and I was told that when it rains, many Christians do not come to the church. mass); the second mass was for the children. (…)

The Maniema region needs a lot of missionary support. There are parishes of very large size in rural areas and there are too few pastoral agents (priests and religious). (…)

I thank the Province of Central Africa and the confreres of the Maniema sector who helped and facilitated my visit to Maniema. Shukrani! Mungu awabariki wote!

Taken from INFO-PAC nr 75 of March 2018

 

Some news of the situation in Ituri

By Father Manolo Fernandez in Bunia (Email of 16th March 2018)

“(…) We spoke with the leader of the first camp or site of the displaced people. I spoke with the MSF (Médecins Sans Frontières) head of mission when signing the contract for the “cheap” parcel. In principle, the displaced are well assisted, except for the WFP (World Food Program) who do not do their job, supposedly they expect “statistics” … Following the MSF advise, we will wait for the displaced to go home to help them rebuild their homes and give them an emergency kit to start life in the village (…)

 

As for the situation, here in Bunia town, we are relatively fit and secure. Yesterday, thanks to the mediocrity and futility of a politician and minister in the government of Mr. Abdullah, there was a death, a police captain who accompanied the politician because of the revolt of the displaced. We do not know what happened next. The captain was from Bukavu. We continue to work for peace. This requires us all to have good discernment when writing anything or even sharing some ideas about the situation. Because it takes very little to cause a fire. The leaders of the different ethnic groups come together and organise big meetings to contain and properly inform their youth to avoid a situation similar to that of 2002. At the moment they manage to contain them and we continue our prayers and homilies to push people in the same direction of concord and peace between the inhabitants of this beautiful Province of Ituri. These are my thoughts that engage no one but myself, because in this organized disorder nobody will give you a clear idea of what is happening. May God forgive us and finally give us the much desired peace. Greetings to the confreres”

 

Taken from INFO-PAC nr 75 of March 2018

Restructuring the Lavigerie House in Goma

When the renovation of the Lavigerie House in Goma was successfully completed, the Provincial team, with the collaboration of the Goma Sector, decided to proceed with its blessing on 8/2/2018. This date corresponded to the end of the second retreat of the confreres of the Province at Keshero Goma. Not only that, but it was also the day we celebrated Saint BAKHITA Joséphine and the fight against modern slavery in all its ramifications.

The mass was celebrated in the living room of the new house (because the chapel was held for consecration by the Bishop of the Diocese of Goma, at his request). It was presided over by our Provincial Assistant, Father PAM Dennis, concelebrated by the Provincial, Father NGONA Emmanuel, the Delegate of the Provincial of the Goma Sector, Father MINANI Albéric, and almost all the retreatants and confreres from the Goma Sector were present. The mass was well animated by our propedeutes. At the end of Mass, the Provincial spoke to remind us that this “procure” was not a hotel but a community of Missionaries of Africa. Therefore, it is governed by a life of prayer and a community life to which all confreres who go there are obliged to take part. Because “a missionary who does not pray is a monster”. The celebration was crowned by sharing a festive meal !!!

Taken from INFO-PAC nr 75 of March 2018

Info-Pac nr 73 (in French) – January 2018

Dans son message pour la journée mondiale des missions en 2017, intitulé « La mission au cœur de la foi chrétienne », le Pape François nous rappelle que « la mission de l’Eglise, destinée à tous les hommes de bonne volonté, est fondée sur le pouvoir transformant de l’Évangile. L’Évangile est une Bonne Nouvelle qui porte en soi une joie contagieuse parce qu’il contient et offre une vie nouvelle : celle du Christ ressuscité… » C’est dans cette optique qu’en tant que missionnaires de cette bonne nouvelle en Afrique nous commençons cette nouvelle Année 2018, année du Jubilé de 150 ans de notre fondation. […]
Read online the Info-Pac nr 73

Round table in Rome on DRC and Sudan

On Thursday afternoon, 18 January 2018, a round table on South Sudan and DR Congo was held at the Urban Pontifical University, chaired by Cardinal Turkson, President of the Dicastery for the Promotion of Integral Human Development. It was a success! 450 participants!

Archbishop Utembi, President of the National Conference of Bishops of Congo (CENCO) emphasized the commitment of the laity and of the whole Church in the direction of non-violence, in firmness and dialogue. He promoted peace education. I myself insisted on the importance of never ceasing the dialogue whatever the violence of the State. Cardinal Turkson encouraged us all in this direction.

Bernard Ugeux, M.Afr.

 
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A pilgrimage for strengthening Peace

 
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PILGRIMAGE FOR PEACE
of the Youth from Goma – Bukavu – Kigali

at the Uganda Martyrs’ Shrine in Namugongo 
and at the Sharing Youth Centre in Kampala (Uganda).
December 2017

The week between November 29 and December 05, 2017 will remain deeply engraved in the hearts of the young people of our three parishes, namely: Our Lady of Africa in Katoy (Goma-DRCongo), St Trinidad (Buholo, Bukavu-DR Congo) and St Pierre (Cyahafi, Kigali-Rwanda). In order to provide better supervision to the youth of our province (PAC) on the one hand, and to strengthen the peaceful coexistence between the young people of these three countries on the other hand, Lowrent Kamwaza, John Ssekweyama, and Edison Akatuhurira, commonly known as’ AKA, all three being Missionaries of Africa Priests, jointly organized a Youth Twinning Pilgrimage for Peace, at the Uganda Martyrs’ Sanctuary in Namugongo Kampala.

This initiative for the youth in the Province of Central Africa, which was the first of its kind, proved to be a successful meeting experience for our youth. More than one pilgrims will describe it as a great success. We can say with certainty that this experience of twinning young people has opened the doors for new initiatives in the future for the Youth ministry in our beloved Province (PAC).

More than eighty-three (83) youth from our three parishes were the first beneficiaries of this initiative. Our young people were welcomed and accommodated fraternally by the confreres, the staff and the youth of Sharing Youth Center. The latter is a center that supervises young people in different trades: carpentry, electricity, cutting and sewing etc. This center was founded and is run by the Missionaries of Africa in the heart of Kampala City. May we express our gratitude to our colleagues Hillaire Guinko and Joseph Bakuri of Sharing Youth Center for hosting our youth. We can not forget Otto Kato, Elias Mwebembezi and Richard Nyombi as well as all the confreres of the Uganda Sector who were able to give us a warm welcome. This shows that youth leadership is not just about two or three people, but rather all our parishes, institutions, sectors, provinces, and indeed the whole of our Society.

The theme of this first pilgrimage of young people was “Pacific Cohabitation between the young people of Uganda, DR Congo and Rwanda”. The objective that inspired us in choosing this theme was the desire to promote fraternal exchanges and peace between the young people of these three “Great Lakes” countries which have often known, in their history, ethnic conflicts (wars, massacres, kidnappings, child soldiers, tribalism etc). In his address on the closing day of our stay in Kampala, Fr. John Sekweyama did not mince his words to make young people understand that it was time to put an end to war and hatred between us because we all want peace, nothing but peace. He also insisted that what we had just experienced was a way to put into practice our theme of “peaceful coexistence among young people”. That is why this experience must be prolonged and take flesh in the concrete lives of everyone.

Indeed, this experience had begun on November 29, 2017, when our youth from Buholo parish (Bukavu) accompanied by Father John and stagiaire Arsene and those from Katoy (Goma) accompanied by Father Lowrent Kamwaza and stagiaire Nazaire Bonkoungou had been hosted by Christian families in our parish of Kimisagara (Rwanda). Already at this stage of our trip, we were experiencing the beginning of new encounters and new friendships with these hosting families. The next day, the Kigali-Kampala journey, during which the young people exchanged, prayed, and sang songs of praise, was quite long. Two large buses were rented to cover the 513 kilometers. Most young people, being their first time to make such a trip, were amazed by the good landscapes of neighboring countries, and discovered a whole new world outside of Congo and Rwanda. … “Traveling is an education in itself”, said a few young people. On December 01, 2017, our youth were among the special guests at the Sharing Youth Center Youth Graduation Ceremony for those who completed their training in sewing, mechanical, and so on. Madam the Minister of Youth and Gender who was attending the ceremony impressed many of our young people with the desire to achieve excellence in their own lives. This ceremony encouraged our young people to deepen the sense of entrepreneurship and put their talents and potentialities into practice to build a better future for themselves.

The summit of this pilgrimage was the day of prayer and visits to the Namugongo and Munyonyo Shrines. For the first time, our young people have seen their dreams come true when they set foot on the holy land where our Ugandan Martyrs rest in peace. The prayer, the meditation, the visit of these sacred places and the Eucharistic celebration in the basilica of Namugongo are experiences that will never fade away from their memories and that has laid for good the foundation for the spiritual life of these young pilgrims. Our thanks to our confreres Vincent Lubega and Mateus, the two confreres in charge of the Namugongo Sanctuary who gave us the chance to celebrate Mass in the Basilica. “We have come here to implore the blessings of God on us, on our families and on our Great Lakes countries, we have come to be part of the millions and millions of pilgrims who came to these sacred places where the young martyrs have given, on this African land, a testimony of their unconditional faith in Jesus.”, said our young people in their prayers.

To conclude this day of reflections and visits, we went to the beach of Kisubi Major Seminary in Entebbe. The young people enjoyed themselves through sports activities, swimming, volleyball, football, dance and sharing the meal in a fraternal atmosphere. To see them together playing and exchanging in the five different languages: Swahili, English, French, Kinyarwanda and Luganda, was for us, their 3 Chaplains, a true sign of missionary seeding in the hearts of our young people where the differences of origins, languages and ethnicities were no longer a point of division but rather a sign of wealth and unity in diversity lived in fullness. May the name of God be praised !!

It must be recognized that this pilgrimage was a good experience and a success for our young people: it not only allowed them to cross the physical borders of our 3 Great Lakes countries, but also and above all it has just broken the borders and barriers of prejudice and hatred that our youths used to have against each other. We owe the success of this experience of Youth Ministry to the support, at all levels, of our province the PAC and especially the words of wisdom and encouragement of our dear Provincial, Father Emmanuel Ngona, who never ceased to assure us that “similar initiatives in pastoral care are to be encouraged and promoted”. We also say thank you to our Superior General, Father Stanley Lubungo, for his words of encouragement to the youth of Katoy (Goma) and Bukavu during his canonical visit, which coincided with the preparations for this pilgrimage of young people during the month of November. Our sincere thanks to our confreres in our sectors, for the support they showed us in preparing this activity. We warmly thank the fellow priests of our 3 parishes and the bishops of our 3 dioceses, parents and leaders of
our Basic Communities (CEVB) for having supported us, and trusting us by giving us permission to leave with a large number of young people to this beautiful spiritual, moral, social and missionary adventure. In order to embark our youth in our 150th anniversary of our foundation, we are planning, with the grace of God, to make an experiment like this next year at the same time, together with the young people of Buyenzi (Burundi) too, in the diocese of Mwanza in collaboration with our confreres from Nyakato parish (Tanzania)! Long live the Missionaries of Africa! Long live the Youth, Long live the Province of Central Africa and Long live the Society of Missionaries of Africa!

Father Lowrent Kamwaza M.afr.,
Chaplain of the Youth in Our Lady of Africa Parish
in Katoy – Goma – RD Congo
December 13, 2017 – Feast of St Lucy