PAO : Gathering of stagiaires

The meeting of PAO ‘stagiaires’ took place from 17 to 23 April 2018 in Bobo-Dioulasso. It was attended by 19 ‘stagiaires’ and two facilitators, Fathers Delphin Nyembo Mabaka and Pawel Hulecki. The arrival of the ‘stagiaires’ and the facilitators went as planned. The organization chart of the meeting included a morning of recollection, various sharing of ‘stage’ experience, a visit to a site in Sindou, the visit of the Samagan Novitiate and the renewal of the declaration of intent.

The meeting began with a recollection preached by Father Jean-Claude Kaburame. Its main theme was: To new wine, new wineskins. This allowed the participants to return to the source of their mission and their commitments in the Church. An invitation to join the Body of Christ, to become a light body with Christ and in the Spirit. An invitation to work in the vineyard of the Lord, to earn bread. The recollection was closed by a Eucharistic celebration.

The rest of the meeting was devoted to the sharing of ‘stage’ experiences. Overall, it turned out that everyone, as far as he was concerned, could detect the roses and thorns of his experience that could be in community as well as outside of it. However, grace has abounded in everything. And as all the experiences contribute to our formation, all is good for the one who loves God.

After that, the visit to Sindou had many surprises in store. We were welcomed into the community of the Missionaries of Africa, but the actual visit began the next day. The site of the caves in Douna bathed us in wonder, with the view of the peaks and the nature. We were about to build three tents… Coming out of the caves, we had a good time and a reunion at the Samagan Novitiate.

Finally, on Sunday the 22nd, nine ‘stagiaires’ from the second year of ‘stage’ renewed their declarations of intent during a Eucharistic celebration presided over by the PAO Provincial Assistant, Father Delphin Nyembo. During the meal, we had a nice surprise. The Archbishop of the Diocese of Bobo-Dioulasso, Mgr. Paul Ouedraogo, visited us. Everything went very well, under the influence of the Spirit.

All’s well that ends well, as they say. After this precious time of meeting, the students of the PAO expressed their joy of being able to meet, to share, to gather around the only Master. May our Society live.

Bobo-Dioulasso, 22nd Avril 2018
Ferdinand CITO, ‘Stagiair’ MAfr.

Photos: Pawel Hulecki

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PAO: The attacks in three countries of the sub-region

From “Baobab Echos” Nr 8 – January 2018

Successively Mali, then Burkina Faso and finally Niger have since January been the target of terrorist groups difficult to identify… Unlike other times, in Burkina Faso, before attacking the General Headquarters of the Faso Armies, a group attempted to penetrate, without success, into the premises of the French Embassy. Every time, not only did the assailants be slaughtered but soldiers and civilians paid a heavy tribe in dead and wounded, not to mention the enormous damages

It was on Saturday, February 24, 2018, in Northern Mali, that an attack caused the deaths of three civilians. Their car had exploded on a mine. Since January, the media has reported two distinct explosions in the North and central part of the country. Because armed groups are very dispersed in Northern Mali, it is difficult to identify and neutralise them. In addition, the Algerian Embassy in Bamako was the target, on Tuesday 13 March 2018, of acts of vandalism perpetrated by Malian nationals expelled from Algeria. Unhappy with their expulsion from Algeria, the latter organised a demonstration in front of the headquarters of the Algerian Embassy in Bamako, which ended with stone throwing and a fire in a garden outside the Diplomatic representation.

On Friday, 2 March 2018, in broad daylight, at 10:00 a.m., Burkina Faso was the scene of a new attack, the third in Ouagadougou for two years. It was initially the buildings of the French Embassy and the consulate that were targeted, in the immediate vicinity of the Prime Minister of Burkina Faso’s office, and then it was the explosion of a car packed with explosives in the Staff court, right in the city centre. In our guest house, 300 meters from there, the windows of the living room and of the television room were blown away. The assailants were all slaughtered, but the armed forces lost eight soldiers in these attacks, the youngest had just turned 21. In addition to this terrible record, there were more than 85 wounded, some seriously. In the city, panic was general, people fled thinking it was a new “coup d’état”. The calm is back now but we notice that in the evening there is less traffic. The roads, ordinarily full of businesses and full of life, have become very quiet. In the photo, above, we notice the huge cloud of smoke that followed the explosion at the general staff.

A week later, on Monday, 12 March 2018, it was the turn of Niger to be the target of new attacks. Around 21:40 that evening, the Police Post of Goubé, 40 km from Niamey, in the region of Tillabéri, was attacked by terrorist elements. There we deplored three dead and one wounded among the policemen.

While these attacks in the major centres were carried out, there were also many assaults in the periphery and in the province, often close to the borders.

All the media, from Burkina and elsewhere, commented on these events.The populations, for their part, measure not only the losses of life, the wounded and the material damage, but also the future of peace in all the countries of the subregion. The security measures are slow to be put in place, especially the G5 Sahel, which lacks financial resources at the moment.

On the other hand, the situation of the hostages is equally disturbing.Mali marked the sad anniversary (one year) of the hostage-taking in Karangasso, a parish in the Diocese of Sikasso. Sister Gloria, a Colombian sister of the Franciscans of Mary Immaculate, is still retained. Throughout Mali, on 7 February, the anniversary of the hostage-taking, prayers were held to request the release of Sister Gloria and all the hostages held in the Sahel.

PAO: The Advent Retreat… In January

From “Baobab Echos N ° 8 of January 2018”

January 5, 2018, at the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Peace in Bamako

It seems a little anachronistic to bring together Confreres and Sisters of Our Lady of Africa, for an Advent retreat on January 5th! But the diaries of each other did not allow to find the opportunity to gather before Christmas.The theme being the one proposed by our two general councils: “We are all migrants”, could without problem be addressed, even outside Advent.Ha-Jo Lohre continues…

On January 5, 2018, the confreres of Bamako (community of the Guest House, community of Hamdallaye and community of the parish of the Holy Martyrs of Uganda) gathered together with our Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Africa (Bamako/Kalabankura) for the “Advent” recollection.This recollection was proposed to us by our General Councils.”We are all migrants”…It is still topical and as we were all stuck by the Advent time, we decided to program it at the beginning of the year by choosing as a place “the Marian Hill”, the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Peace, on a hill in the center of the city , close to the parish church of the Martyrs of Uganda.After climbing the 177 steps, some discovered for the first time this beautiful place of recollection built by the previous Parish Priest Laurent Balas.After the morning prayer and a little introduction to the theme, everyone had time to find a place to meditate on the biblical texts and the proposed questions – either in the crypt before the Blessed Sacrament, in the Church of the Virgin (where we celebrated the mass around 11:00 a.m.) – or else outside on the forecourt or under the gallery.During mass, each one had the opportunity to share the fruit of their meditations, before a good meal offered by the guest house consolidated our fraternity.

Senegal: Using scarves on Palm Sunday

Of the West Africa website:

In order to protect nature, Bishop Benjamin Ndiaye, Archbishop of Dakar, asked the Catholics of his diocese to use scarves instead of palms for the procession of Palm Sunday and the Passion of the Lord.

In some parishes, the use of scarves in the place of palms is already nearly ten years old.

But in almost all the other parishes of Dakar, the Archbishop’s message was not well received.

“The people who are looking for the palms had already committed themselves to doing so,” commented Pierre Bassène, another Catholic. According to him, the instructions of the Archbishop of Dakar will be better followed next year.

As he said, the environment suffers from this cutting of palms every year. The most serious thing in Senegal is that there is no culture of reforestation. »

(Excerpts from “in Senegal, the Archbishop of Dakar suggests using scarves instead of twigs” by Charles Senghor, La Croix-Africa, 26/03/18.)

The resurrection, to let all the violence die away!

How confusing is He, this Son of God, who did not want to convince his “adversaries of the day before” by rising before them! Confusing that Jesus who does not even exploit his power! The Holy Days teach us that the Passion is a mystery, the mystery of a God who becomes incarnated in the world as it is, a world of violence and weakness, of which eventually he becomes a victim. The resurrection of Jesus on Easter morning remains a sign of the same mystery: His power will be immense but always fragile, open to rejection, open to unbelief.

In several countries of the West African subregion, we have just have had to face again violence and to experience attacks which created a great discomfort, without counting the victims, the hundreds of wounded people who had to be attended to. The material damage is huge, but even more so the trauma caused by these deadly operations. Violence is no longer only experienced elsewhere, it has now invited itself to our own home too, throughout the Sahelo-Saharan strip. Explanations are being given, more or less convincing, photos are posted, encouragement is lavished … But the question remains: what do we do, each one at our own level, to uproot this evil, to fight it out with determination? How do we bring some fresh air into this deleterious climate that gangreans the whole society? Each one of us has his / her share of responsibility and no one could ever say: I have nothing to do with it! Whenever I refuse to love in truth, whenever I do not involve myself thoroughly in the fight for more justice and peace, I share a responsibility for violence!

By his death on the cross, Jesus puts an end to all death, he is the Resurrection and the Life … “I have come so that human beings may have life and that they may have it in abundance” (John 10,10) . To conform our life to His life is to make ours that very simple message. Such is the “violence of the resurrection”, the folly of the cross will write Paul: it is given to us, entrusted, placed within our reach. The resurrection is a song: God composes the melody, we are the musical score.

Christ has suffered violence without retaliating, while fighting against injustices. Evangelical non-violence excludes neither conflict nor “holy wrath”, yet never undermines life. “You have heard that it has been said,” An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth “(Ex 21, 24). Well! I tell you not to stand up to the wicked; on the contrary, if anyone gives you a blow on the right cheek, stretch the other cheek too; if he takes you to court and wants to take your tunic, give him also your coat; if he requires you to run with him for a mile race, run for two miles with him. To the one who asks, give; whoever wants to borrow from you, do not turn your back “(Mt 5: 38-42). Here is the nonviolent injunction of Jesus in the Gospels. It is rather radical and for some people not very credible indeed.

Evangelical non-violence is unfolding at the heart of the conflicts, argued recently Father Mellon, a moralist Jesuit. In his diatribes against the scribes and the merchants of the Temple, Jesus does not hesitate to face his enemies with vigor, specifies the Jesuit. He never said, “Do not have enemies,” but rather, “Love your enemies”, which presupposes that we have enemies in the first place. And by inviting “to stretch the other cheek”, “Jesus invites us to leave the proliferating logic of violence”.

A non-violent action is neither naive nor passive. On the contrary, it acts for justice in an efficient way, and requires the commitment of everyone: non-violence presupposes a much greater solidarity between people. Among the three “Lenten invitations” made to us every year, solidarity must be taken seriously. As we have just experienced these times of turmoil in our countries of the sub-region, may we, like Jesus, silence all violence, offering our solidarity to those around us who suffer, who have wounded or even dead relatives among them.

Our best wishes, on the occasion of this feast of Easter, are summed up in the request of the “Our Father” … let us not enter into temptation … in the temptation of violence! Make of each one of us a peacemaker.

Happy and Holy feast of Easter 2018 to everyone and to all your communities.

(Editorial of the Baobab nr 29, Newsletter of PAO – translation Webmaster and Google … please excuse the approximations).

Father Luc Kola, Provincial PAO 
and Father Delphin Nyembo Mabaka, Ass. Provincial PAO

My experience of parish work as missionary of Africa (PE nr. 1084)

Since 5 years, I am in mission in the parish of Saint Therese of the child Jesus-Dyou, Diocese of Sikasso in Mali, in the West African province (PAO), that is to say since my priestly ordination. The Diocese of Sikasso comprises of 8 parishes with 25 diocesan priests, of which only one is animated by the missionaries of Africa since its foundation on January 14, 1953. Only two male congregations exist in this diocese: the Salesians of Don Bosco with their training center and two communities of missionaries of Africa, namely the Senoufo Center and our parish community. Our presence brings a little diversity in the diocesan configuration and in its pastoral approach.

Simplicity in contact: in order to really be «all to all», the investment in learning the local language has made me very effective in pastoral work. I can freely preach, advise, make free pastoral visits and stay in their homes without seeking comfort. All these attitudes are a great testimony that evangelise our interlocutors. Touring our 23 villages in rotation allows us to get in touch with the reality lived in all the communities. Every Sunday evening we share in our joys and frustrations of the mission, while encouraging each other. It is a moment of mutual relaxation and enrichment around a fraternal drink. As for Monday evening, the day of our rest, we have a Mass during which we share our spiritual experiences listening to one another. It is an activity that allows me to present to the Lord the whole parish community with its joys and pains.

Learning the language in a family

I dream of a specifically missionary parish where we firmly commit ourselves in :

  • catechesis to deepen the faith of our Christians who let themselves be easily tossed by the routine of life provided they have a satisfaction. There is a lot of duplicity in most of them, which explains the lack of commitment of some … I firmly believe that if they were seriously following the catechesis and had a life of prayer, they could understand what is meant by taking up one’s cross. It is said that «Even a rose is in the middle of the thorns». It is challenging to live the Christian faith in a strong Muslim environment without fear or compromise in front of the difficulties encountered.
  • Literacy: most of our Christians are illiterate, and there is an urgent need to teach them to read and write so that they can learn more about the Scriptures through personal reading, greater involvement in community activities. Sometimes there is no one who can read in certain communities and it is up to the priest or stagiaire to prepare or do everything … If the faithful learn to read and write, they can manage their activities without much frustration … and this will make everyone happier in the mission.
  • Training in self-reliance activities for the real liberation of the human person, ie training them and educating them to be financially independent so as to participate in the functioning of the parish. Most Christians think and believe that the Church is there to distribute money to them, that the Church is rich and does not expect anything from them. We work hard to give them a true image of the Church knowing that they themselves are part of it, and thus gradually free them from the spirit of begging.
  • Awareness-raising activities on Justice and Peace: we live in mining areas. There are many traditional mining sites in our territory and this attracts everyone. The most painful thing is that there are many miners and young people from all over the sub-region looking for easy money. However, this is a myth, because only a handful manage to get away with it positively. Through awareness-raising evenings we want to help these people understand the dangers they face when working without any warranty or protection. My dream coincides with that of Pope Francis as expressed in his encyclical «Laudato Si»: everyone must have the concern to keep and safeguard our common home.
Gold digger…

My biggest observation is that I have been lucky until now to find myself in a community made up of 3 confreres «semper tres», and stagiaires whom we help in their discernment of their missionary vocation. As in every missionary community, we have established a community project that helps us to live specifically our ideal and to insert ourselves into our environment of first evangelization (with many influences of traditional religion and Islam …) as someone liked to say: in Mali, there are 85% Muslims, 15% Christians and 100% animists. This still explains the strong social pressure of traditional African religion. Nevertheless, there is a real religious tolerance in my mission area and we religious leaders often meet formally and informally, encouraging us to preach peace, tolerance and forgiveness. The heart of man being unpredictable, we remain cautious in our manner of speaking and doing.

This pastoral care excites me greatly and gives me joy whenever I meet a certain receptivity on the part of certain people; when I think of Jesus, St. Paul, Lavigerie and many other apostles who have encountered difficulties in their mission but have held fast through faith, their unfailing trust in God and the consolation found in their mission. Yes, this mission is worth living!

Joseph Kamwanga, M.Afr.

PAO : Share in the succes of the forthcoming ordinations

Dear confreres and friends from the province, present in the province, formerly from the province of West Africa, or having met our confreres, we express our great joy with the forthcoming ordination of four Confreres of the PAO Province. The dates are spaced in time, according to the various Houses of Formation where they study theology.

  • Hervé TOUGMA of the Archdiocese of Koupela (Burkina Faso), who will be ordained in Koupela on Saturday 1 July 2017. He will celebrate his Mass of thanksgiving the following day, Sunday, July 2, 2017, in Koupela.
  • Clement KPATCHA of the Diocese of ATAKPAMÉ (Togo), to be ordained at ATAKPAMÉ on Saturday, September 30, 2017. For his Thanksgiving Mass, information will be given on the forthcoming invitation.
  • Amorain WAYIKPO of the Diocese of ATAKPAMÉ (Togo) and Théophile SAM of the diocese of Koudougou (Burkina Faso), continue their studies of Theology at Merrivale in South Africa. They will be ordered at the end of the year, during the month of December. The invitations will give, in the coming months, information on the dates and places of their ordination.

The provincial team is appealing to you, inviting you to participate generously in the organization of these festivals (participation in the expenses of ordination, thanksgiving, travel, etc.); as well as to the expenses of the departure of these young confreres on Mission (travel expenses to the countries of the Mission are indeed borne by their province of origin). We thank you, in advance, for all the help you can give us. And we reiterate our gratitude to those who have already participated in one way or another for the ordinations of the past year. May the Lord continue to support your efforts.

Thank you in advance to all of you for your generous contributions, to be sent to the Provincial Treasurer in Ouagadougou. May the Lord accompany us and bless you.

Very fraternally,

Luc Kola, Provincial of PAO
Delphin Nyembo M, Assistant Provincial of PAO

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Particularities of the ECOWAS–EU Economic Partnership Agreement

The Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between the West African region and the European Union (EU) has its legal framework in Cotonou Agreement (2000) to make it compatible with the guidelines given by the World Trade Organization (WTO). The WTO sought to standardize trade agreements at the global level and called for the repeal of any kind of unilateral preferences. Continue reading “Particularities of the ECOWAS–EU Economic Partnership Agreement”