Workshop with the Magazine “Africa Rivista”

The famous magazine of the Italian sector still belongs to the Missionaries of Africa, even if it is mainly professionals in the information sector who do most of the work. Evidently faithful to Africa, the Magazine organized a workshop in Milan on November 24 and 25 on : “Dialogue on Africa – to understand, know and discuss”. This short video will involve you from afar at a few selected moments of this workshop. If you have an Italian confrere or an Italian-speaking confrere on hand, he will certainly be happy to translate for you. After all, it only last 2:29 minutes.

Beatification : a responsability (Mini-lien n° 481)

The Church in Algeria almost disappeared several times: at independence, during nationalizations and during successive attacks. Cardinal Duval and Bishop Teissier’s intuition was to say: “Our premises, instead of remaining empty, let us put them at the service of the people (1). “Our premises must become platforms for service and meetings,” said Pierre Claverie. And as a result, churches, presbyteries and communities became places of life, service and animation. This Church has really set itself up to serve and has established very close friendships with many Algerians.

In the Church, not just anyone is beatified. We observe life but then, “the blood spilled” speeds things up. In the lives of these men and women religious, what is it that makes them beatified? Some have studied theology, Islamology, but all have said the same thing in one sentence: “I freely choose to remain in the country despite the risk, out of fidelity to Christ, to the Gospel and to this Algerian people.” It’s not the fact that they were killed that counts, it’s the very fact that they stayed out of love.

Why did the bishops ask for this beatification? “Because it is an example for today.” Hence the publication of this work by Jean-Jacques Pérennès: “Pierre Claverie, La fécondité d’une vie donnée (2).” Already in bookshops, there are dozens and dozens of books on the shelves, not to mention the written press of all confessions ; the film: “Des Hommes et des Dieux” was watched by millions of people in a secular France; Adrien Candiard’s play : Adrien Candiard’s play: “Pierre et Mohammed”, created at the Avignon Festival, has exceeded 1200 performances. It is played in front of Muslim audiences, which shows that there is an obvious fertility and that friendship is possible. It is a message for our time: listening, meeting without fear of the other.

In Algeria, it is significant that the authorities have accepted that for this beatification, 1200 people would travel. So the Algerian authorities have accepted and this is a strong message. Algeria acknowledges that they died out of friendship for that country. The bishops, in their communiqué announcing the beatification, said: ” As far as we are concerned, we do not want to distinguish our martyrs from the 150,000 Algerian dead, we want to emphasize the friendship which we want to maintain with this country. “It is therefore not a beatification that accuses Muslims, on the contrary. It is to be hoped that it is the same in France and in Europe where we are afraid of migrants. It is an invitation to “not be afraid”, said Saint John Paul II. Let us not be naive, it is not simple, but we must build and dare to meet, which can be very enriching.

For many of us, it is rather amazing to see someone with whom we have thought, worked and washed dishes, walked and participated in retreats, be beatified. Often we bless someone who had founded a movement or congregation in the 19th century. But these are our contemporaries with whom we have lived. The apostles said: “What we have seen and heard, we proclaim to you also, that you too may be in communion with us…” There is a little bit of that for us.

Beatification shows the fruitfulness of these given lives, and this fruitfulness shows the responsibility of the Church of today and tomorrow.

Bernard Lefebvre, M.Afr.
(French Sector – Mini-lien n°481 du 1er février 2019)

(1) Je me suis inspiré de l’interview du 8/12/2018 de Jean-Jacques Pérennès sur KTO.

(2) Jean-Jacques Pérennès, Pierre Claverie, La fécondité d’une vie donnée, Cerf 2018.


Beatification of the Algeria Martyrs, Testimony of Fr. Raphaël Deillon

On the occasion of the beatification of the martyrs of Algeria, Father Raphaël Deillon, White Father, diocesan delegate (Marseille) for relations with Muslims, testifies to the years spent in this country with his missionary brothers and sisters, the Christian community and tells us about the links forged with this people of Algeria.

A tribute to the martyrs of Algeria who will be beatified next Saturday and an encouragement to all our confreres – and to all the baptized – to live an active presence in the fracture zones.


Berlin event for the 150th anniversary

Hundred and fifty years ago, Cardinal Charles Lavigerie, the then Archbishop of Algiers, founded the Missionaries of Africa, known in Germany as the White Fathers. In gratitude, we look back on a century and a half in the service of the Church and of the people of Africa.

We, the animators of the Africa Center in Berlin, would like to invite you to an event to commemorate the struggle of our founder, shared by the first missionaries, against the slave trade and the challenges of human trafficking today.

You are cordially invited on Thursday, 18th October 2018 at 6:30 p.m. in the Cafeteria of the Catholic School Saint Francis, Hohenstaufenstr. 1-2, 10781 Berlin.


6:30 pm: Welcome and time for meeting each other

7:00 pm:

  • Father Gerard Chabanon, Provincial of the European Province, recalls the history of the slave trade in the 19th century and of the anti-slavery campaign of Lavigerie.
  • Sr. Margit Forster, SOLWODI (Solidarity with women in distress) Berlin, will talk about modern slavery and the fight against human trafficking in Germany today.
  • Greetings from Father Rudi Pint, German Provincial of the Missionaries of Africa and Father Frank Rossmann, Missionary of Africa.

Musical entertainment by groups from the Africa Center.

8:30 pm: African snack bar

We would be grateful if you could let us know by 12 October 2018 whether you will be attending the event.

Tel.: 030-216.9170

We are very pleased to welcome you.

Your Missionaries of Africa
and the Afrika Center Team in Berlin

Download here the original invitation flyer.

To the Missionnaries of Algiers (1884) (Mini-lien nr. 476)

Below is the famous preface that Cardinal Lavigerie wrote in March 1884 for the publication of a collection of his pastoral writings. Beyond the style dated by the time and some historical reflections that we know today were obsolete, this text retains an apostolic inspiration and breath that still touches us today. And we will be able to recognize some phrases that remain famous in the living memory of the Society of Missionaries of Africa.

Continue reading “To the Missionnaries of Algiers (1884) (Mini-lien nr. 476)”

Being a civilian prisoner at the Garaison camp (Mini-lien nr. 476)

During the First World War, France considered the Germans, the Austro-Hungarians, the Ottomans, the Bulgarians present on its soil as enemies: they were concentrated in camps, including that of Garaison (Hautes-Pyrénées), installed in the former convent and school establishment of the Missionaries of the Immaculate Conception.

Continue reading “Being a civilian prisoner at the Garaison camp (Mini-lien nr. 476)”

When tourism trivializes sexual exploitation

For the past three years, the Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Africa have been working in the coastal region of Kenya, where they are trying to bring young children out of increasing sexual exploitation. Sr Redempta Kabahweza, Ugandan MSOLA, who works especially in the psychosocial support of these children, gives us her testimony.

Sr Redempta console, reassure,
gives courage.

Kenya’s coast is famous for its beautiful white sandy beaches, palm trees, warm Indian Ocean waters… But these sunny beaches are also a hub for European sex tourism, especially with young miners. A 2006 UNICEF study estimated that approximately 10,000 to 15,000 girls aged 12 to 18 living in coastal Kenya were sexually exploited.

What explains such exploitation of children is the widespread poverty and social acceptance of the phenomenon. Tourism is one of Kenya’s most important economic sectors, accounting for 10% of the country’s GDP.

In 2015, in response to this situation, the Catholic Church opened a centre in Malindi, Kenya, called “Pope Francis Centre”, for victims of this sexual exploitation. There, minors receive the help they need and support to bring the perpetrators to justice. On a daily basis, children as young as three, sometimes boys and girls, report shocking details of the abuse they have suffered, often from relatives.

Sr Redempta, who is the centre’s main psycho-sociologist, remembers snatching two 10- and 12-year-old girls from two Italian tourists who had abused them for two years. She describes the trauma during the interview with the older of the two: “I would take her into the meeting room, and once I closed the door, she would start shaking. It was very difficult to prepare her to testify in court because she had to remember all the horrible experiences she had had. »

When we met Sr Redempta, she told us about her constant and difficult struggles, in the face of the deep suffering of the children, the account of the sexual violence and traumatic experiences they had lived, but also how she herself found the inner strength to continue to fight for justice.

Voix d’Afrique. : You are Ugandan. How did you come to Malindi and to the Pope Francis Centre?

Sr Redempta : A few months before my perpetual vows, the bishop of the Catholic diocese of Malindi, Mgr Barbara, contacted our Superior General to ask for his help in the management of the “Pope Francis Center”. Certainly, this invitation of the diocese corresponded entirely to one aspect of our charism, which consists in paying special attention to every wounded person, in difficulty, isolated from society. After several consultations, three of us were sent to respond to the urgency of this mission. Personally, I was very enthusiastic to receive this appointment as a psychosociologist just after my perpetual vows. I really wanted to work with the children, and the idea of taking on the role of “counsellor” makes me very happy. It was the first time I was going to practice my “counselling” skills (psychological and social support).

Sr Redempta plays
with the two younger survivors
of sexual abuse.
They’re both four years old.

V.A: How are you doing with the kids?

Sr R. : It is an exciting mission, but it is far from simple. Listen to what they’ve been through, break your heart. One example among many: when I arrived here, I found a two and a half-year-old girl who had been sexually assaulted several times. How can any sane person rape a baby?

V.A: Are you also traumatized by listening to these children’s experiences?

Sr R. : This, of course, affects me, as does everyone who works here. When a child who has been abused is brought to the centre, everyone: social workers, nurses or even the drivers who drive the children here, are really touched and compassion can be seen on every face. Nevertheless, we are working as a team to take a step back from these dramatic situations. Children need our confidence, to relearn trust.

V.A: Of all the people who care for children, you are the one who listens to their traumatic experiences of sexual abuse. How are you coping?

Sr R. : As a professional listener, I seek to restore confidence to these children in situations of psychological suffering. I try to help them reconnect with all that rehumanizes. But listening can take different forms: a child, for example, does not necessarily express himself with words but rather with drawings or with games. One of them, through a male doll, was able to confirm that it was her maternal uncle who had raped her, even though a police statement indicated that she had been involved in a traffic accident in which her private parts were allegedly injured! Her hospital examination confirmed that she had been sexually abused…

Au Centre, les fillettes les plus âgées
s’occupent des plus jeunes.

V.A: In addition to follow-up with these children, do you offer other support?

Sr R. : Because they must be reintegrated into their families after three months at the Centre, I go to their homes to talk to their relatives and assess whether or not bringing the child back to the family constitutes an additional danger for the child. I must also investigate those who harassed them, it is my duty. I also prepare children to testify in court. Because lawyers cannot advance a case until the identification of suspects is confirmed and the children have testified. For example, one of the four-year-old children has already testified in court about the rape she suffered. Unfortunately, later, the clerks called us to tell us that the file was incomplete and that the child had to testify again. I refused, indicating that the child was not ready for a second interview. I firmly believe that someone was paid to make this file disappear.

V.A: What motivates you to continue your work despite the distress you sometimes encounter?

Sr R. : The Bishop of Malindi saw this “crime against humanity” that was rampant in this region and felt that something had to be done. He founded the “Pope Francis Centre”, based on the Church’s social teaching: “to create a society in which all children live with dignity and in which their rights are protected. “This is the mission of the centre: to help children who are subjected to sexual violence. This goal is addressed to all children, regardless of race, ethnic origin, religious belief or gender, to enable them to achieve their full potential one day. The Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Africa are very committed to what promotes justice and peace. And because I am also very committed to this mission, I want justice for these children. I feel great joy for every child who can return to their family after months of support. I want to continue to follow them, to make sure they are safe and will no longer be abused. They all trust me to protect them from their aggressors, and I would not want to abandon them for anything in the world. When they call me “Sister” and share with me all their fears from the outside world, it convinces me even more that I can only be there with them and for them.

Sr Huguette Régennass, SMNDA
(Voix d’Afrique nr. 119 – June 2018)