Stagiaires meeting from 15 to 17 march 2024

Niamey Sector, NIGER

WITH A GRATEFUL HEART

………………………………………………………………………………

Song translated from French (Que tes œuvres sont belles, Que tes œuvres sont grandes ! Seigneur, Seigneur, tu nous combles de joie! )

Great are your works, how beautiful they are!
Lord, Lord, you fill us with joy!

1. You are the God who made us, who kneaded us from the earth!
Every human being is a sacred story; every human being is made in the image of God!
Your love fashioned us from the womb of the earth!
Every human being is a sacred story; every human being is made in the image of God!
You put your Spirit within us: we stand on the earth!
Every human being is a sacred story; every human being is made in the image of God!

………………………………………………………………………………

This sacred song and prayer guided our three-day meeting as stagiaires from the Niamey-Niger Sector. Father Pascal Kapilimba, vice-Provincial of the PAO, facilitated the meeting.

Therefore, with an open heart, we begin by thanking Almighty God for his presence and blessings upon us. Glory be also to God for his presence among us as we continue to share and witness his love among the people of Niger. I also believe that this is the prayer of every one of us: whatever we say, whatever we think, whatever we accomplish and whatever we do, may it be for the greater glory of God, and that in everything we do and say, people see only Christ Jesus through us and in us.

We would also like to express our sincere gratitude to Father Pascal, who set aside his busy schedule to be with us at this particular meeting. As we move forward, I want to highlight some of the important things we shared at our meeting.

“APOSTOLIC CHARITY”

The idea of apostolic charity is obvious and snow-white. “We are not tourists, in as much as our charism is that of apostolic charity… About apostolic charity: nothing else but as Christ’s disciples”. All to all. This requires us to be nothing other than all people. As stagiaires, we are always asked to learn the culture of the people, to eat their food, to feel and be with them in all their sufferings, and so on. This is not new to the missionary spirit. Therefore, we must recognise that it is a challenge to live this way, especially when we want to depend on our human power. A missionary should, therefore, be a man of prayer who seeks the Holy Spirit, God’s humility, to guide him and do all things through Christ, who calls him at every moment of his daily life.

We would also like to acknowledge the presence of Father Leo who joined us on the last day of our meeting. It was encouraging to learn that Father Leo and Father Pascal share the same idea of living ‘all things to all people’: “We need people who are not just priests, we need missionaries”, said Father Leo. This means that we’re not there simply to celebrate Mass or be among the many Christians, as might be the case in countries like Zambia or Uganda, just to name a few. In a country like Niger, we have to get used that there are just a few Christians, in for example the parish of Saint Joseph in Saga or of Saint Vincent de Paul in Birni N’Konni. But more than that, a missionary is there not only for a few Christians in that particular parish but for the whole population. That’s what it means to be a missionary. Living this helps to build a joyful community.

A JOYFUL COMMUNITY

A joyful community in the context of the M.Afr. is a group of people who are fully human, responsible, grateful, open-hearted, and who know how and when to communicate with each other. Being responsible also means having a sense of belonging to the community. Each of us must feel this, and it must help us live our interculturality by seeking unity despite our differences of nationality. Cardinal Lavigerie reminds us that ” we must love each member of the Society in the same way”. Father Pascal also reminded us that, as stagiaires, “we are sent by the Superior General who sends all the confreres to their respective communities. We must remember that although we are community members, we are also candidates in formation. Secondly, as community members, we must not wait to be welcomed to propose new ideas (we do not separate ourselves from the community), but rather do everything in our power for the good of the community to which we belong”.

It also means that every community member is invited to make an effort to building a joyful community. In this way, we can achieve a joyful community thanks to everyone’s efforts to work towards these important elements.

I can say that this meeting was a special moment that helped me to pause, reflect on my life and evaluate how I can pass this on as a candidate for the Missionaries of Africa to the people of Niger. Not only to the few Christians in the parishes I visit here in Niger but rather to the whole population, especially those I meet in my daily life. Apart from that, it was also a time for me to listen and be inspired by my colleagues’ experiences and to recognise God’s presence in my life story and the lives of others.

I am grateful for all that God still accomplishes through me as a stagiaire of the parish of Saint-Vincent de Paul in Birni N’Konni, Niger.

By: Kelly Mukosha, Stagiaire

 

Ouagadougou Priesthood ordinations 2023

Priesthood ordinations in the Parish of Saint John XXIII

Ouagadougou 2023, Burkina Faso

Four confreres, all four from Burkina Faso, have been ordained priests: Jean-Luc Compaoré, Ephrahim Konkobo, Aimé Ouédraogo, and André Sawadogo. All finished their theological studies in Merrivale, South Africa.

The Province of West Africa (PAO) chose to assemble the four ordinations in the same place, given the socio-political situation in Burkina Faso. Two of the ordinands come from “red zones” where it is difficult, for the moment, to travel and organise such gatherings. The parish of Saint John XXIII in Ouagadougou, for which we are responsible, welcomed and well-organised the celebration.

Cardinal Philippe Ouédraogo, Archbishop of Ouagadougou, presided over the celebration, accompanied by Cardinal Laurent Dabiré, President of the Burkina/Niger Bishops’ Conference and Bishop of Dori, and Monsignor Giorgio Bernardi, Italian Bishop Emeritus who has worked in Dori for many years.

There were also around 70 priests, many religious men and women and a very large number of Christians from the parish of Saint John XXIII.

The Eucharist was very beautiful and prayerful. Considering the current situation in the country, trust, hope and fraternity have been present during the whole celebration.

 Jean-Luc Compaoré, from the parish of Our Lady of the Apostles in Ouagadougou, is going on a mission to Burundi. Ephrahim Konkobo, from the parish of Wakara in the diocese of Dédougou, is going on a mission to Ghana. Aimé Ouédraogo, from the parish of Ziniaré, near Ouagadougou, is going on a mission to Mozambique. André Sawadogo, from the parish of Dori, is going on a mission to Congo DR.

We congratulate them and wish them a fruitful missionary apostolate wherever they are sent. May the spirit of Christ always be their support.

Alain Fontaine.

Pascal KAPILIMBA IMANI, Assistant Provincial of PAO

Pascal KAPILIMBA IMANI Assistant Provincial of PAO

Official communication

During the meeting of the General Council on Wednesday, 23rd June 2022, after dialogue and with the consent of his Counsel,
Father Stanley LUBUNGO, Superior General, has appointed

Father Pascal KAPILIMBA IMANI
Assistant Provincial of PAO

for a first mandate of three years,
starting on 1st July 2022.

Rome, 27th June 2022
André-Léon Simonart,
Secretary General.

Mgr Paul PELLET Centre

Mgr Paul PELLET Centre

On 30 June 2021, the Centre Mgr Paul PELLET welcomed the participants of the ICOF programme. On July 1st 2021, we had the inauguration and the blessing of the new SMA house, named “Centre Mgr Paul PELLET”, by Mgr Boniface ZIRI, Bishop of Abengourou. FRANCIS Rosario, SMA General Councillor and SEKA Narcisse, SMA Provincial Superior of Côte d’Ivoire. As representative of the ICMA, we welcomed Brother KONANI Nicodème, OFM (Rector of the ICMA).

The centre is very well equipped to host a programme of this kind. In general, the house was appreciated by the participants. The rooms have bathrooms with hot water. The conference room is professionally equipped.

This year’s ICOF Abidjan programme had 14 participants, ten women and four men, from 6 different religious congregations and 9 nationalities; among the men there was a diocesan priest from Mali. All 14 participants came from outside the Ivory Coast.

We had a wide variety of modules that helped the participants to renew themselves. Some of these were: Mission and Witchcraft in West Africa, Holy Scripture and Mission, Leadership, Forgiveness, Dreams, Interculturality, Living in Community and Working in Teams, Appreciative Discernment, Transitions in Life, Resilience and Trauma, Consecrated Celibacy and Emotional Maturity, Addiction. The programme included a seven-day retreat.

The theme that accompanied the participants was: “With Jesus at the centre of our lives, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, let us each take flight to live fraternity without borders for an ever-renewed community”.

Participants were invited to take advantage of the accompanying services provided by the programme. There were seven evenings where participants were invited to share in small groups. The aim of these sharing sessions was to provide a forum on active listening and confidentiality where each participant could express how things were going for them. The activity was well integrated and appreciated. We also have community meetings where the group could express ongoing concerns about activities, our life together, arrangements for timetables, accommodation, food, etc. The meetings were useful for adjustments, clarifications and information.

We had organised liturgical and sharing groups who committed themselves to prepare the liturgy of each week. The variety of local and international congregations brought creativity to our liturgy.

In connection with some of the modules, we had the opportunity on some evenings to watch different films and documentaries which added to the understanding, broadening the horizons. The two films shown illustrated the themes of interculturality and forgiveness, while the documentaries dealt with the sexual abuse of nuns in the Church, resilience and addiction. The activity was greatly appreciated.

The programme organised three outings. The first one took place on the very first Sunday of the programme and allowed for an insertion into the local culture/liturgy with the participation in a priestly and diaconal ordination at the cathedral of Yopougon. The second outing took place on 10 July. The participants went to discover different localities of Abidjan, the Abidjan Cathedral and even the Atlantic Ocean at the Grande-Bassam beach. For the third outing scheduled for 31 July, we went to Yamoussoukro (Basilica of Our Lady of Peace) and to the hospital located not far from there. Finally, on 16 August, several participants organised to visit and pray at the Marian shrine of Our Lady of Good Help. All these outings and visits were very much appreciated.

We had to divide ourselves into two different cultural evenings because of the large number of nationalities. The participants were well prepared and great creativity was displayed: audiovisuals, dances, games, poems, songs, gifts… it was an occasion for great joy.

During the programme, we had the opportunity to celebrate our birthdays, anniversaries of professions in the consecrated life, patronal feasts and even the day of the independence of the Ivory Coast. We also had a social evening every week or so. This helped us to strengthen our family spirit.

This year, some of the participants shared their various talents with us: entertainment evenings, decorating the chapel, cooking and baking… to name but a few. We were able to enjoy delicious cakes, pizzas and quiches.

In conclusion, we can say that it was a very enriching trip.

Yago Abeledo

(Translation : mafrome with the help of DeepL)

PAO – A matter of personal relationship with Christ

PAO - Une histoire de relation personnelle avec le Christ

We are relaying here an article from Maison Lavigerie, the first formation cycle in Ouagadougou, where the Superior General is on an extended apostolic visit. The original article original can be found on Maison Lavigerie’s blog.

Père Stanley Lubungo lors de son homélie

What a wonder the coronavirus did for us, we were in great joy. As a Lavigerian community, we had the very great and priceless joy of welcoming and spending a few days with the Superior General of the Missionaries of Africa, the Reverend Father Stanley Lubungo. During his few days visiting Lavigerie House, Reverend Father Stanley, in order to encourage one another, first met the students of the house and then the formators. As far as the meeting with the students was concerned, several elements were very rich and helped to revive in us students the desire to continue the formation with a view to becoming missionaries of Africa.

Reverend Father began by expressing his wishes for good health in view of the health situation that prevails throughout the world. He also expressed his deep joy at being with us. For the Reverend Father, the present situation is a challenge for everyone and especially for us believers. This situation is an invitation to prayer. It shows our vulnerability and challenges us in our missionary vocation because, according to the Reverend Father, “no one is at home here in his family”. He finished speaking about the health situation in relation to our formation by telling us: “I hope that you will integrate this little detail in your missionary formation. »

Père Stanley lors de son discours aux étudiants

Reverend Father then spoke to us about formation. He insisted a lot on the importance of the first stage of formation because it is like the foundation of our belonging or of our discovery of the Society of Missionaries of Africa. The first stage of formation is a stage of growth in all aspects of life; it is especially a stage of discernment. To encourage us and invite us to greater concentration in formation, Reverend Father said: “Your presence here [at Lavigerie House] is a matter of personal relationship with Christ. “He exhorted us to take seriously the magnitude of the call and to accept its implications because, “it is the call that sends one on mission.” And, if we miss this at the beginning of formation, we are off to a bad start.

Toute la communauté avec le Père Stan Lubungo

Finally, the being of the missionary was one of the themes addressed by the Superior General during this meeting with the students. He took enough time to tell us and explain to us what it really means to be a missionary. To be a missionary is a call to leave a certain material life, to leave everything. One must not leave for the sake of leaving, but one must leave in order to become attached to Christ in intense personal prayer and in listening to the Word of God. For Rev. Father Stanley, “attachment to Jesus is a sine qua non condition for becoming an apostle [for becoming a missionary in Africa].” The missionary is one who goes not only to proclaim Christ but also to be evangelized by those to whom he is sent. The authentic missionary is one who sets out to meet the other in his difference, whoever he may be. In making the link between missionary life and formation, the Reverend Father said: “You have all the years of formation to know Jesus better in order to follow and serve him better. “He reminded us that the missionaries of Africa who were beatified did nothing special. For him, “they only loved with all their heart the peoples to whom they were sent, they remained faithful to the call they received.” The Reverend Father concluded this theme with the words: “Prepare yourself for this life [this type of missionary life] and do not allow yourselves to be diverted; always know where you are going.” We express our sincere thanks to the Superior General for the many encouragements and for all these comforting words. We thank the Risen Lord for this beautiful opportunity he has given us. May he himself come to the aid of our world in distress. May he bless the life and ministry of Rev. Father Stanley and grant him a strong health so that he may always carry out his task. Amen!

Serge Sawadogo

Covid-19 in West Africa

Covid-19 in West Africa

According to statistics, in Africa, 46 out of 54 countries are currently affected by Covid-19. All countries in our subregion (Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Togo) are affected. Curfews, quarantines and confinements are imposed on the population almost everywhere to cope with the progression of the disease.

Less impacted than the rest of the world, the African continent also faces the risk of a spread of Covid-19. While the World Health Organization (WHO) fears that Africa will not be able to cope with the pandemic, States are taking steps to deal with it. The WHO director has called on Africa to “wake up” and “prepare for the worst” in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic. Africa now counts more than 3,300 cases and 90 deaths.

Our colleagues have received all kinds of recommendations on the spot and they accept this situation. The proximity of Easter leaves us in disarray. For the confreres who work in the parishes, it is indeed such an important moment, with the preparations for all the celebrations (Easter Triduum, baptisms, confirmations, etc.). For the other confreres who work in different services, it is also a time when they are very busy. Concern is spreading to our communities.

What is happening today in the six countries of the sub-region that make up the PAO?

Mali

The country went from two cases on Wednesday 25 March to 18 infected people on Sunday 29 March. The first round of parliamentary elections, scheduled for Sunday 29 March, was maintained, although some candidates and civil society organisations called for their cancellation. A first victim died on Saturday 28 March.

Togo

25 cases were reported by Sunday, March 29. “The first case is a 42-year-old patient residing in Lomé with her family,” the government said in a statement. “From 22 February to 2 March, however, she spent time in Benin, Germany, France and Turkey before returning to Togo. The Togolese government assures that “all persons who have been in contact with the patient have been identified and quarantined. One death has been declared.

Ivory Coast

101 cases of Covid-19 were recorded on Sunday, March 29, 2020; the government is strengthening protection measures. It restricts access to the territory: from now on, anyone arriving in Ivory Coast will spend 14 days in quarantine. Three patients are now in remission. The first case was detected on Tuesday, 10 March 2020. It is a 45-year-old man who had just returned from Italy.

Ivory Coast closed its borders to all non-Ivorian travelers coming from countries where more than 100 cases of coronavirus have been detected.

Burkina Faso

The authorities in Burkina Faso announced on Wednesday, March 18, 2020, one death. This death linked to Covid-19 is the first confirmed death in sub-Saharan Africa. We are now at 11 confirmed deaths, on Sunday, March 29, 2020. Populated by 20 million inhabitants, the country has, on 24 March 2020, 207 confirmed cases of Covid-19 patients. About sixty passengers on an Ethiopian Airlines flight are, moreover, in quarantine in a hotel in Ouagadougou because of a suspicious case on board the aircraft.

Mauritania

With five cases listed, on Sunday, March 29, 2020, Mauritania decided to close its airports to flights from and to foreign countries. As early as 21 March 2020, the government had already announced the “closure of public and private schools, including Universities and Institutes, for a period of one week which may be subject to re-evaluation”. Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Cheikh El Ghazwani and his government announced late Thursday afternoon, 26 March 2020, that they will make a donation to the newly created national solidarity fund for the fight against Covid-19.

Niger

One of the poorest Sahelian countries in the world, Niger recorded its first case of coronavirus on Thursday 19 March 2020. This is a man who arrived in Niamey from Togo. He would have passed through Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire and Burkina Faso, announced the Minister of Health. On Sunday, March 29, 2020, 10 cases were registered. Already on 17 March 2020, Niger closed its educational institutions, its land borders with its seven neighbours and the airports of Niamey and Zinder (south) to avoid being affected by the virus.

Last minute...

Cardinal Philippe Ouedraogo, Archbishop of the Diocese of Ouagadougou, tested positive for Covid-19, according to a note from the Vicar General of the same diocese, Father Alfred Ouedraogo, on March 30, 2020. The cardinal was transferred to the former clinic, Les Genêts, for appropriate care. The Cardinal wants to reassure the people of God, the note reads, and “invites us to remain united in prayer for him and for all the other sick people and for all those who care for them. “We reiterate our encouragement and invite you to keep hope,” the Vicar General concludes. Cardinal Philippe Ouedraogo, 75 years old, is the second bishop of Burkina Faso to be affected by Covid-19. On 25 March, the Episcopal Conference of Burkina-Niger informed that Bishop Séraphin Rouamba, former President of the same Episcopal Conference and Archbishop Emeritus of Koupéla, tested positive for Covid-19. He is at the Tengandogo University Hospital Centre in Ouagadougou. Some priests and pastoral workers also tested positive.

Extract from Baobab Echoes n° 35

Visit of the Superior General to the PAO

Visit of the Superior General to the PAO

Since March 2, 2020, our Superior General, Father Stanley Lubungo, has been in our Province. He was able to visit the communities in Niger, several communities in Mali and he arrived in Burkina Faso, after visiting the community of Bandiagara, a few hours before the border with Mali closed…

It were the communities of Niger that he visited first, since his plane dropped him off in Niamey on the evening of March 2, 2020. He was able to visit His Grace Bishop Laurent Lompo, Archbishop of Niamey, and then go to the parish of St. Joseph of Saga and then to the parish of St. John the Baptist of Nyantala, with Innocent Habimana. Father Stanley Lubungo then went to Birni N’Konni where he was able to meet the confreres and spend some time with them. Then he went to Maradi where he could meet the bishop, Monsignor Ambroise Ouédraogo, and attend some of the days of the presbyterium . From there, he went to Zinder where he was well received by the confreres who shared with him at length what they were experiencing in a parish often affected by insecurity, especially during the events of January 2015.

After Zinder, Father Stanley Lubungo stayed a little longer in Niamey. A plane then took him to Bamako, on the eve of our Provincial Council meeting. He then travelled with Sylvain Musangu to Nioro-du-Sahel. On the way back, he stopped at Faladyè and then, near Kati, at Ntonimba, to meet Father Arvedo Godina. On Sunday, March 15, 2020, Fr. Stanley Lubungo was in Bamako. The photo above shows him in the midst of the MSOLA confreres and Sisters of Kalabankura, who came to share the midday meal with us and to meet Father General. The next day, our Father General was able to participate in a day of our Provincial Council. He spoke in the afternoon to encourage us and share with us his vision of Mission today, following the Plenary Council held in Kampala last December. He promised to send us a letter on his return to Rome, where he will share with us in more detail his visits to the PAO and what he is getting out of them.

When the Provincial Council was over, he took a little rest in Bamako and seized the opportunity to meet Cardinal Jean Zerbo and some confreres who wanted to see him. With Luc Kola, he then set off again for Bandiagara in the diocese of Mopti. There he barely had time to meet the confreres because the radio announced the closure of the borders with Burkina Faso.

Very quickly, with Luc Kola, he took to the road again to cross the border at Bena in Mali. A little further on, the priests of the parish of Bomborokuy offered them hospitality and they spent the night there before taking to the road again to arrive in Ouagadougou in the evening of Sunday 22 March, fortunately a few hours before the curfew. Since that date, Father General has been in the community of the Provincial House. The quarantine declared on Thursday 26 March prevents any entry or exit from Ouagadougou for the moment.

All the flights have been postponed and we do not know when the situation will change. It was from the Provincial House that Father General wrote his letter on the pandemic of covid-19.

All the confreres appreciated his visit among us and regret that he is thus prevented from returning to Rome. It is a situation that he had not foreseen. Fortunately, through the internet and other means of communication, he can reach the members of the General Council and he can work from Ouagadougou. This is a completely new situation in the history of the Society. At least we have, at the Provincial House in Ouagadougou, the pleasure of his presence for a long time.

Extract of Baobab Echoes n°35

BF: Solidarity but not division!

Anne-Bénédicte Hoffner 
28th May, 2019

Theologians, pastors are looking for a way to display solidarity without accentuating ethnic and religious divisions

Anti-Christian attacks in Burkina Faso are continuing.

On Sunday May 26, heavily armed individuals entered a Catholic church during Mass at Toulfé in the north of the country.

Opening fire on the faithful, they killed four people and wounded several others.

On April 28, terrorists entered a Protestant church in Silgadj, killing the pastor, his sons and three members of the faithful.

On May 13, as the Catholic church celebrated the funeral of a priest and five members of the faithful who had been killed the day earlier in Dablo, four others were killed at a Marian procession in the neighboring province.

The messages of friendship and calls for prayer that circulated afterwards indicate the depth of emotion felt as well as growing concern at the determination of jihadist groups to sow terror in this small country of the western Sahara, which has long enjoyed a reputation for religious tolerance.

As has occurred after each anti-Christian attack in Sri Lanka, Egypt or the Philippines, the same question keeps returning. How to show solidarity with the victims without increasing religious division and thus assisting the terrorists’ in their objective?

“We must not fall into their trap and making a lot of noise is precisely what they are seeking by attacking religious institutions,” argues Father Anselme Tarpaga, the provincial of the White Fathers in the Maghreb region and originally from Burkina Faso himself.

Instead, those who wish to show their support should commence by informing themselves of the local situation. Although the authors of the attacks share the same ideology, the context and thus the resources available always differ.

In fact, tribal and family links have created a strong interreligious network in Burkina Faso where interreligious marriages are the norm, according to Father Tarpaga, who has a Muslim father and a Christian mother.

Similarly, Congolese Father Pascal Kapilimba, the director of the Institute of Islamo-Christian Formation in Bamako, Mali, sees this phenomenon as a means of countering the jihadists “by focusing on what unites us rather than what divides.”

“Rather than speaking of Christian victims, it is better to say they belong to the Yampa or Sawadogo tribes because when we say that, all Yampas and Sawadogos feel concerned, whether they are Christians, Muslims or practice traditional religions,” he believes.

While Wahhabi Islam – a form of Salafism – is growing, it is mainly based on the rural exodus.

“Since people are far from their families, young people are more easily seduced by the discourse and money of preachers formed in Saudi Arabia,” said Father Kapilimba.

“They may allow themselves to commit acts that are regarded as reprehensible by traditional Islam,” he says. “Moreover, they prefer to desert their villages because they will be viewed badly there.

“Father Christian Delorme, who is responsible for interreligious relations in the diocese of Lyon, identifies more fuel for the Salafist contagion in “the accumulated anger, jealousies, and feeling that the West – and therefore Christians – are to blame for all the evils of the world.”

For this reason, it is equally indispensable, in his view, to “display our solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Africa and our refusal to normalize such actions” and to “refuse the fracture and the fatality of war.

“This can be achieved, he argues, by refusing to distinguish between “good and bad victims” and raising our voices against “all forms of violence.

“In a statement condemning the Dablo attack as “ignoble and unjustifiable,” the Federation of Islamic Association in Burkina Faso noted that imams have also suffered.

“The jihadists’ aim is to increase insecurity among all those who refuse to adopt their vision of the world,” said Father Delorme.

“It happens that attacking Christians has a greater impact than attacking victims practicing traditional religions,” he said.

Highly concerned by the attacks in his country of origin, Father Tarpaga has shared on social media the text of a practicing young Muslim Burkinabe who witnessed publicly to his gratitude to the Salesian priests with whom he “played football while young.

“Foreign Christians “must aid the Churches in Burkina Faso to keep their social and charitable works going,” he said because if they also give in to “the closing in, they will end up justifying the terrorists.”