Celebration in Merrivale

On the 2nd of October, Bishop Jan De Groef started his homily in our Chapel saying: ‘I guess this celebration was not intentionally planned to take place in October, month of the Blessed Virgin Mary, in whose patronage we are placed’. Indeed, it was a blessing that our Formation House in Merivale, on that day, had an extraordinary celebration of the Missionary Oath and Diaconate Ordination of Peter Bwire, as well as the Ministry of Acolyte of Nine (09) of our brothers in the third year of theology.

This ‘Acolytate’, which was supposed to have taken place earlier at the end of their 2nd year, was delayed because of the break out of the Corona pandemic since early 2020.

‘Leaving their parents, friends, countries…, which should have repelled them, inspire them with fear, this is precisely what attracts them’: Mission in Africa and to the African World. It was a significant step, on this 2nd October, for our new acolytes in their journey to devoting themselves totally to this cause. As for Peter, he committed himself totally to serving God in the charism of the Society of the Missionaries of Africa. Father Konrad, Sector Delegate of South Africa sector, received his Oath in the name of the General Council and of the Society at large.

Too much mixing between Catholicism and traditional faith

Too much mixing between Catholicism and traditional faith

We need to focus on catechism for adults !

Archbishop Buti Tlhagale, reported by Agenzia Fides, Johannesburg 20/9/2021

Some ten years ago, I was the Parish Priest of a rural Zulu Parish near Pietermaritzburg. The people were having many ancestral ceremonies, alongside but not integrated in their Catholic faith and practice. As I insisted in being invited, as Parish Priest, to these events, I started being more and more interested in trying to evangelise those practices. Unfortunately, I left South Africa too early. (signed: Philippe Docq)

Poverty, racism and the influence of ancestral cults are among the greatest challenges to evangelization in South Africa. This is what the Archbishop of Johannesburg, His Exc. Mgr. Buti Tlhagale said to a group of new missionaries.

“There is still a lot of racism in South Africa, it is always under the carpet, below the surface”, said Tlhagale, adding that this translates into economic inequality where a minority is fine and the majority is ill. The Archbishop said he sees a lot of young people in Johannesburg going mad because of the dire situation they are facing due to realities like unemployment. “They sleep on the streets, they lose their dignity, they beg for food, and eventually you can see that there’s something abnormal about their behaviour”, said Archbishop Tlhagale. He pointed out that apart from material problems there’s a lot of brokenness amongst the people of South Africa which results in a loss of hope.

The Archbishop questioned the role of the laity in the society at large wondering whether they go out to make in impact on the society, motivated by their faith to try and change society and its expectation.

Archbishop Tlhagale believes that the major obstacle to total conversion is the ancestral cult, noting that people believe in the ubiquitous presence of ancestors. To make the missionaries understand something concrete with regard the ancentral cult Archbishop Tlhagale showed them a video of a trainee sangoma (Traditional diviner/healer). The video was of a Catholic who became a sangoma recently and the Archbishop was trying to show them that everyone is into this even Catholics of all walks of life. He said this traditional religion is mixed with Christianity even by Catholics including some priests and nuns.

The Archbishop made missionaries aware that there are cases where one goes to two funeral services of the same person on the same day because there has to be a service for the ancestors and a service for the Church. He said people do these things sometimes as a way of double insurance. For this reason Mgr. Tlhagale urged to place more emphasis on adult catechism which is almost non-existent, because after confirmation, the Catholic faithful stop studying and deepening the teachings of the Church.

After the “Catholic” celebration of the marriage on Saturday afternoon, the “real traditional Zulu” marriage took place on Sunday. It was very colourful and meaningful. I found my way to the ceremony, wondering how could we make of the two ceremonies one big feast, celebrating the beginning of a Christian covenant between two persons, between two families.

Celebrations in Merrivale

Celebrations in Merrivale

We are happy that on 6th June 2020 our five brothers Jallet Thomas Miguel (Moz), Twizere Emery (DRC), Hussen Elias Abdi (Eth), Ouedraogo Yewoaya Christian (Bfa), and Rioba James (Ken) made their final commitment to the society and were ordained deacons in the service of the Church. We are grateful to Coadjutor Archbishop Abel Gabuza who ordained our brothers irrespective of the Covid 19 pandemic. We thank Fr. Gordejuela E. Jose-Manuel who received the oath of our brothers in the name of Fr. Phiri Felix, the Provincial of SAP. Fr. Manuel, who came to Merrivale for auditing our accounts, unfortunately was forced to stay in South Africa because of the lock down. We are happy to have him here. We thank all the formators and the brothers who participated in the ceremony with immense joy and happiness. The celebration was very simple but meaningful. The newly ordained deacons wore African shirts depicting the Missionaries of Africa’s simple lifestyle. All in all, it was a grace filled celebration. Please keep them in your prayers as they continue their journey to priesthood. The celebration was live-telecasted through the Missionaries of Africa Merrivale Formation House Facebook account and around 150 people followed it from around 10 countries. Watch below the movie as broadcasted. 

Work has to be valued…

Work has to be valued as we celebrate Workers' Day

Our confrere James Ngahy is the director of the Centre for Social Concern in Kanengo (Lilongwe – Malawi). He was born in the land of Ujamaa and has therefore in his DNA the ideals of the African Socialism as dreamed of and planned by the Father of the Nation, Julius Nyerere. At the occasion of the 2020 Workers’ Day, celebrated in confinement in the whole world, he gives us his reflections on work today.

Steven Kambuku becomes a priest

Priestly ordination of Fr. Steven Kambuku

On the 20th of July 2019, the Missionaries of Africa and the Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Africa in the Malawi Sector witnessed the ordination of Fr. Steven Kambuku (M.afr) and Fr. Joseph Palasa (Diocesan). It was a colourful and beautiful ceremony. The ordaining minister was the Archbishop of Lilongwe Archdiocese, Archbishop Tarcisius Zizaye. Present also was the Retired Archbishop Remi Joseph Gustave Sainte-Marie. There were a lot of priests (missionaries from different congregations and diocesans) and religious men and women who also graced the occasion, as well as parishioners from almost all the parishes with the Diocese of Dedza and the neighbouring dioceses.

Rev Fr. Steven Mark Damiano Kambuku who was ordained that day, was born on 30/07/1988 to the family of Mr. Damiano Hamilton Kambuku and Mrs. Calorina Anastazio Chiputula. Fr. Kambuku was the second of four children in the family; three boys, one girl. He did his secondary school education at Bandawe Boys Secondary School, Nambuma Community Development Secondary School in Nambuma, Unity Private and Army Private. In the year 2009 he started his formation at Kanengo pre-formation house in Lilongwe, Malawi. Later he was sent to Balaka for his philosophical studies. After his studies in Philosophy in 2012, he was appointed to Kasama for his novitiate. After his novitiate in 2013, he was sent to Burkina Faso for his pastoral experience (Stage). He was later appointed to Kinshasa in DRC for theology. While in theology, he took his perpetual oath on 9/12/2018. On the same day he was ordained a deacon by Bishop Placide Lubamba (M.afr) from DRC.

The priestly ordination ceremony took place in a village called Matumba, at the Holy Angels Parish under the Diocese of Dedza. The officiating Archbishop was from the neighbouring Archdiocese (Lilongwe) as the hosting diocese is currently without a chief shepherd. On a personal note, the choice of the place of ordination was a good one because it shows the Church’s preferential option for the poor and also allowed the simple people in this village who are without a means of transport, an opportunity to witness this Holy and Sacred ceremony. If the ordination was to be done in town, many of these people would have found it difficult to witness it. The participation of the local people in the order of the mass made the celebration very colourful. There were the Angoni traditional dancers, little girls and boys, and the catholic women organisation members who throughout the mass were using their various dance styles to praise God while the Choir sings. The choir was a combined group of choir members from all of the outstations of the hosting parish, and they sang wonderfully.

The homily of the Archbishop Tarcisius Ziyaye was centered on love. He started by saying that even though Isaiah offered himself to be used for the mission of God, he wasn’t the one who made himself into God’s prophet and servant. Rather, it was God who made Isaiah into His prophet and sent him on a mission. God through His mercy and love always calls someone from among the faithfuls to serve Him as a priest in the Church.

The Archbishop went on to say that, the priesthood we receive is not a human thing, but rather the priesthood of Christ himself, and that is why the Church always affirm that a priest is another Christ. Therefore, he encouraged the candidates to be ordained and all priests present not to take their priestly ministry lightly, not to forget the holiness and honour of the sacred priesthood and to always strive to live their lives like Christ did.
He further emphasized that, the service of the sacred priesthood is to be rendered with all humility, respect for God’s people, total devotion and love. For the sacred priesthood is not a profession or a part time job, it is a lifelong service, he added. He buttressed this point by making reference to the teachings of Mother Theresa of Calcutta who when advising her sisters said “when doing your examination of conscience at night before you go to bed, do not ask yourselves, what have I done today? But rather ask yourselves, all that I did today, have I done them with love?”
He rounded up his homily by reminding everyone present that our life is a life of love, a life centered and guided by love. Because God is love and Christ Jesus died for us because he loved us. We must also not depart from love, but remain steadfastly rooted in love.

After the homily of the Archbishop, the vocation director of the diocese Fr. Emmanuel Chuma called forward the ordinands for the rite of ordination. The two ordinands answered from where they were sitting among the crowd “Ndilipo” meaning Here I am. The two ordinands then came forward gleefully, accompanied by their parents and a troupe of traditional dancers – it was a very touching moment. During the litany of the saints, the two candidates lay down in total submission to God and the choir sang the litany in a way that moves the heart, one could feel the presence of the saints. After the rite of ordination, all the priests, brothers, sisters, seminarians and family members congratulated the newly ordained, and they (the newly ordained) in turn blessed the archbishops, the priests and religious and all the faithfuls present. 

They are now priests forever according to the order of Melchizedek!!

The ceremony continued as normal till after the communion when the choir sang the Magnificat. This was another moment that stood out; there were three little girls who came out and danced beautifully to the hymn. One was dressed as Mary and the two others as angels – it was quite a sight to behold.

During the speeches, Fr. Kambuku expressed his profound gratitude to God for the gift of vocation to serve Him as a priest. He also thanked all members of the Society of the Missionaries of Africa, his parents, all friends of the Missionaries of Africa who have lived with him and all those who have helped him in various ways to reach the Altar of God.

The family members expressed their profound joy in the speech that was given. They thanked God for the honour he has bestowed on them by considering their families worthy of giving Him priests to serve in His vineyard. They also expressed their profound gratitude to all those who partook in the formation of their children, and also all those who came to witness the ceremony.

The Archbishop in His closing remark reemphasized on the focal point of his homily, that is, Love. He encouraged the newly ordained priests to serve with love and complete devotion, to be humble and to be Christ like. He also urged them to be obedient sons of the Church and to follow the teachings of the Church.

Okunola Michael Olatude
Stagiaire at St. Francis Parish, Kanengo, Malawi

SAP encounter for First term confreres

The Missionaries of Africa on first term in the Province of Southern Africa, met in Johannesburg (South Africa) from the 3rd to the 7th of June 2019, to reflect about their experiences in the Mission and renew their commitment to serve in God’s vineyard. These confreres were: Fr. Thomas Pouya from Burkina Faso, working in Mzuzu (Malawi), Br. Vitus Danaa Abobo from Ghana, working in Lilongwe (Malawi), Fr. Konrad Millanzi from Tanzania, working in Henley Parish (South Africa), and Fr. Herve Tougma from Burkina Faso, working in Tete (Mozambique). Besides sharing their experiences, they also spent some time to familiarize themselves with the historical, political, religious and economic contexts of the country through visiting the “Freedom Park” in Pretoria, the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg, and some other places of interest.

Though the meeting was organized for the four confreres, the members of the hosting community at Edenglen, were actively involved in ensuring that the participants were well taken care of. Fr. Malachy Oleru who was the Moderator of the meeting facilitated the sharing and involved other confreres like Fr. Raymond McQuarrie, Fr. Jones Kawisha, and Fr. Peter Joseph Cassidy, to give input on different subjects based on their mission experiences.

The participants, together with the confreres of Edenglen community, started each day with the Laudes, followed by the Eucharistic celebration, inviting God to take charge of the day’s sharing, inputs and outings among others.

For confreres like Fr. Thomas Pouya, it was like a homecoming, since he did his pastoral training or “stage”  in Orange Farm, South Africa from 2010 to 2012. For Herve and Vitus, this was a new discovery. For Konrad Millanzi, who is working in Henley Parish, South Africa, visiting Johannesburg was nothing new.

On the first day of their meeting, the four confreres shared more about themselves, family backgrounds and their vocation journeys. This exercise was really an ice breaker for the group as some of the members were meeting for the first time. In their sharing, certain elements stood out, such as how the plan of God is made manifest through their family experiences, the decisions of their parents, and other human agents like relatives, friends, religious leaders and education systems. These have been part and parcel of the vocation stepping stones! Besides, the cultural experiences have also played a role in molding them into who they are today, and enkindled in them the desire to encounter other cultures. In the vocation journeys of all the members, there were moments of doubts, moments when scales that blinded their vision fell off, and moments of great certitude and confirmation of God’s will in their lives. All these challenges, doubts and joys contributed in helping them to respond positively to the Call of God to become Missionaries of Africa.

On the afternoon of the first day of their meeting, the group, with the help of Fr. Christophe Boyer, visited Freedom Park in Pretoria. Upon arrival at the Park, they spent some time visiting the Museum before they got a guide who helped them to appreciate the richness of the place and the different aspects of the park. The guide explained that, Freedom Park was born as both a national and international icon of humanity and freedom. He added that, the idea of a place of that kind was in the dreams of the late Dr. Nelson Mandela, of which Mandela himself in 1999 expressed beautifully in these words: “… the day should not be far off, when we shall have a people’s shrine, a Freedom Park, where we shall honour with all the dignity they deserve, those who endured pain so we should experience the joy of freedom.”

Some of the elements which caught the attention of the group were the Wall of Names, the Sanctuary, the Eternal Flames and the beautiful view of the City Centre from the walkway. Regarding the Wall of Names, the members were curious to know what criteria was used to select those whose names are inscribed on the Wall. It was also consoling when they found many names of heroes and heroines whom they knew or have read about on the Wall of Names like Thomas Sankara from Burkina Faso, Kwame Nkurumah from Ghana, Fred Agbeyegbe from Nigeria, Thomas J. O. Mboya from Kenya, and Empress Zweditu from Ethiopia. The guide explained that the Eternal Flame is meant to invite visitors to remember the unknown and unsung heroes and heroines who lost their lives, yet their names are not recorded in history.

A notice “PLEASE REMOVE YOUR SHOES” welcomed the group to the Sanctuary. With such a notice one realizes he or she is approaching a holy ground. The guide explained that visitors are invited to conduct a ceremony or light a candle in memory of the “victims in our struggles for freedom or simply to celebrate the life of a loved one.” Responding to a question asked by one of the group members, the guide said that anybody or a group from any religious affiliation is allowed to perform their ceremonies here, as long as they remove their sandals.

At the end of the visit the group had the pleasure of seeing the City Centre from a high altitude wooden walkway. They were excited to take some pictures from the walkway with the City Centre in the background. The group was so grateful to their guide who was very good at explaining the different things in the Park and also patient at listening to all the critiques and appreciations of the group. To show their appreciation, they invited the guide to take a picture with them, to which the guide accepted. The visit to South Africa will not have been complete without a visit to Freedom Park, where many centuries of history and humanity’s struggle for freedom have been showcased in a neutral, non-judgmental way.

On the Second day of the meeting, the group shared on their experiences of initial insertion into their places of Mission. In the sharing, it was clear that inserting oneself into a local milieu is not always easy as one encounters new confreres, cultural shocks, new languages, and in some situations new climate, among others. The experiences of the members during stage was found to be very instrumental in enabling them to adapt to their new places of mission. The challenges of inserting themselves into their places of mission pushed them to grow and become active participants in shaping their communities and places of pastoral assignment. The arrival of these new members in each of their communities, places of mission have brought in new energy, ideas and dynamics.

As if by God’s providence, all the confreres got invited in the evening to a Muslim family to join them in breaking their Ramadan fast. This gesture granted the confreres an opportunity to experience the generosity and hospitality of their Muslim brothers and sisters. During the meals which brought together at least four Muslim families, there were different discussions and sharing about what both Christianity and Islam has in common, and also the challenge of some extremists disfiguring the picture that many people have of Islam.

On the third day they reflected on Collaborative Ministry with the help of Fr. Peter Joseph Cassidy (PJ) who works in St. Thomas Parish, Lenasia. At the beginning of PJ’s input he shared about his experience in South Africa as a Stagiaire, his experience of collaborating with ministers of other religions as well as his joys of being a Missionary of Africa.

He insisted that joy and pain are part of our life and no matter which of the two that one is experiencing, there is a need to share with others, and where necessary to seek for help. On the same point of Collaborative Ministry, PJ reminded the group that Mission has to be centered on God, adding that ‘in Collaborative Ministry we have to encounter both Mission and Values.’ He compared this ministry to the different parts of the body making use of the letter of St Paul to the Corinthians (Cor12:12-31). He insisted that Collaborative Ministry is about ‘working together and building the Kingdom of God together.’ From the above reading, the group members shared some three lessons which included: the uniqueness of the different parts of the body, the need to appreciate each other and pay attention to the needs of one another. And finally, the fact that despite the importance of each part of the body, some of the parts may feel that they are not visible or appreciated.

PJ highlighted the importance of building bridges in life instead of building walls. He also emphasized the importance of taking up new challenges and putting our gifts into use.
He also introduced the idea of supervision as a tool to help us pay attention to our emotional, physical and psychological realities. In order to collaborate with others, he advised, ‘you need to collaborate with yourself.’

After sharing about their experiences of love at different levels, PJ invited the members to imagine what would have happened, if the same kind of energy they get through love was transferred onto the ministry. He invited all the members to approach the ministry with the same kind of energy which they get through love.

Lastly, PJ talked about Safeguarding Children and ensuring that in our ministry children are protected, loved and cared for. ‘We also need to pay attention to ensure that children are not abused around us.’ He also shared his experience about working on child abuse cases and other sensitive issues so as to encourage the confreres to pay attention to them and put in place measures to protect children in our places of apostolate.

In the afternoon of the third day, the group together with Fr. Paul and Fr. Peter Joseph, visited some historical places including, Regina Mundi Catholic Church, Hector Peterson memorial and our confreres working in Lenasia Parish.

At Regina Mundi the group was told the story of how some bullets were shot into the Church building. Some of the holes on the roof of the Church building were still visible. At the back of the Church, one could find different pictures, messages and even signatures about the Soweto uprising and the struggle against the Apartheid regime. The group driving past the residence of the late Dr. Nelson Mandela found a lot of visitors who had come to visit the house.

When the members arrived at one of the outstations of Lenasia parish, they were shocked to find that the motor which automatically opened the gate of the Church compound had been stolen the previous night. From there the group continued to Lenasia Community, where they were warmly welcomed by Fr. Mathieu Van Vlierden and Fr. Raymond McQuarrie. There they had a lovely chat together.

After the recap of the previous day’s input by Malachy Oleru, Fr. Jones reiterated the importance of Collaborative Ministry, emphasizing the importance of appreciating the gifts of each other instead of being jealous. Fr. Jones regretted that, ‘sometimes when new talented confreres arrive, instead of collaborating with them we become jealous of them.’ He also emphasized the need to be present to each other especially in today’s context, when sometimes ‘we don’t spend much time together, instead we spend more time with our computers or smartphones.’

Later on, Fr. Jones gave a short input about his experience in Tizi Ouzou, Algeria, North Africa.
During his experience he faced a challenge of keeping a balance between working with both the Christians (who were mostly Students) and the Muslims. Some of the Muslims would complain that the responsibilities and work is being given to the Christians, while the other Christians will complain that more attention is being given to the Muslims.

One of the dilemmas that the confreres faced was when some Muslims showed interest of wanting to become Christians. This is because one can be accused of converting Muslims into Christianity. The question still remains; do you refuse to admit a sincere Muslim who desires to become a Christian?

Despite the challenges that he faced in Tizi Ouzou, Algeria, such as the insecurity, he appreciated community life and concern that confreres had for each other. He was also appreciative of the trust and hospitality of the Algerian people towards the Missionaries of Africa.

With regards to working with Muslims, he emphasized the importance of collaboration and dialogue, highlighting that dialogue does not mean conformity. He added that, in dialogue it is essential to respect our differences and be sincere to our own identity.

Concerning the question of reciprocity regarding dialoguing with Muslims. Fr. Jones believes that, dialogue is part of the Christian faith; living out both the vertical and horizontal dimension of our faith. He however, recognized the fact that it is challenging.

After Jones’ input the other members also shared about their experiences of living with, schooling with and working with Muslims. It is remarkable that in the case of Burkina Faso some Muslims would join their Christian friends and relations to go for Charismatic prayers in Churches. They would also celebrate both Muslim feasts and Christian feasts as one family.

In the afternoon of the same day, the group in collaboration with Fr. Paul Namono and Fr. Jones visited the Apartheid Museum. There were many things that caught the attention of those who were visiting the place for the first time such as the distinction in the colours of the ID cards, the separation of local people in the residents according to tribes, the reservation of some services to whites only, among others. It was remarkable to see how the locals were enslaved, and not represented in Parliament. The tour of the Museum also gave the group to revisit the life and struggle of Nelson Mandela and many others, for the independence of South Africa (End of Apartheid System) in audio visual form. At the end of the visit, the members still left the Museum with a thirst as there were still a lot of exhibitions not visited due to the shortness of time. One thing is certain, humanities quest for freedom is a long journey and a burning flame which no individual or system can ever put off, be it through torture, starvation or death. This freedom once attained demands responsibility and discipline to maintain.

On the last day of our meeting, the group was blessed with the presence of Fr. Raymond McQuarrie. He talked about clericalism and the need to have an exit strategy in the mission. While emphasizing the importance of the Christian faith and getting rooted in the sacramental life, he invited his brothers to focus on what is happening around the world. ‘We should not forget the issues of Justice, Peace, Integrity of Creation (JPIC) and other social issues of the present day,’ he emphasized. He gave us some motivational biblical texts to highlight the importance of paying attention to issues of Justice and Peace, with supporting documents from the Catholic Social Teachings of the Church.

Also, he highlighted the focus of making their communities and places of apostolate a family. Community life is one of the main values that have remained through most of the writings of Cardinal Lavigerie, the founder of the Society of Missionaries of Africa. Their first ministry is their families, Raymond reminded them. He added that ‘anything that undermines the cohesiveness of the family has to be challenged.’ He further challenged his brothers to bring back issues of Justice and Peace as expressed by Jesus in the book of Isaiah 61 to the forefront of their apostolate: “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners… (Isaiah 61:1ff)

In summary the meeting of the confreres on first term working in Southern African Province was a success. It gave these confreres the opportunity to reflect together in the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ, about their experiences and see how God is using them to fulfil his Mission in Malawi, Mozambique and South Africa. It also gave them the chance to look back at their experiences and rethink how to better minister to God’s people. The fact that the meeting took place in Johannesburg, it also gave some of them the privilege to acquainting themselves with the South African context and appreciate how far the country has come up in the fight for freedom.
This meeting will not have been possible without the support of the Provincial and his team, as well as the confreres in the Sector of South Africa, most especially the community of Edenglen, who despite their busy schedule availed themselves and their resources to facilitate this meeting.

Vitus Danaa Abobo, M.Afr.

Oath and Diaconate in Merrivale

It is in Saint Joseph’s Parish, in Howick, that 5 students of Merrivale became Missionaries of Africa by pronouncing their solemn missionary oath in the presence of Fr. Francis Barnes, first assistant of the superior general.

They are from left to right:

  • Bimal Lakra, from India
  • Habtamu Aloto, from Ethiopia
  • Guélord Mahongole, from DR Congo
  • Alain Sossou, from Ivory Coast
  • Joseph Zunguluka, from DR Congo

On the same day, they were ordained deacons from the hands of our confrere Jan De Groef, bishop of Bethlehem (South Africa).

Following the photos, you will find the text of the homily pronounced by Francis Barnes on that occasion.

I would like to address these few words to you Bimal, Guelord, Joseph, Habtamu and Alain. Through the oath you have taken today you have consecrated yourselves until death to the Church’s mission in Africa and you have promised fidelity and obedience to the apostolic life as well as swearing to observe celibacy for the sake of the kingdom.

Wow! That is quite something and in today’s world you would have to either be out of your mind or be truly of a sound and discerned mind to add your signature to such a document. I presume that you are all truly of sound mind. The oath we take does not mention poverty or simple lifestyle as we call it – for it is supposed to be part of our specific identity. We are not religious and so we don’t take vows and yet the oath is surely just as binding. I would dare to say that in today’s world such an oath is more than controversial even counter-cultural. Celibacy in today’s world where everything is hypersexualised is surely counter cultural and so often can become for many a source of great tension and stress or, worse still scandal. What about obedience then in a hedonistic world where we want to celebrate the freedom to do, to say and be whatever we want? And fidelity? Yes, it takes courage and hard work to be faithful to the promises we make and we know just how easy it is to stray from the path we have desired and chosen. Then there is simple lifestyle though not mentioned in the oath we take it as expected of us. Yet so many of us will be tempted along the way by the lure of money and be caught up in our desire for more comfort and ease in our ministry. Yes, the oath is definitely counter cultural but then so is discipleship as it always has been.

Are we worthy of such a calling, are we capable of such a calling? – most likely not and yet despite our own frailty and powerlessness, the love of God is able to break forth into our lives with its transforming power. Hopefully, today you are the ones who choose not to walk the path of power but the path of powerlessness, who choose not the road of success but the road of servanthood. With the grace of God, you will choose willingly not to walk the wide road of praise and popularity but the narrow one of giving oneself so that others might have life in abundance. Know that it will mean often accepting to walk into darkness, to take risks, to walk into the unknown and to accept all the suffering that such a choice entails.

Yes, you and I, today’s disciples know we are fragile human beings; we don’t have all the answers and yet hopefully we allow ourselves to become instruments in the hand of God; hopefully like children we will have a spirit of sheer receptivity, utter dependence and a radical reliance that does not come from ourselves but from the spirit of Jesus.

Therefore, deep down we know that:

  • if we were to live in imitation of Jesus
  • if we dared move beyond our self-concern
  • if we truly desire to reach out in compassion to all our brothers and sisters no matter whom they are  
  • if we were so counter cultural that we no longer thirsted for status, power or possessions

then we would indeed transform this little Society of ours and even the world and the parish communities where we serve.

The world doesn’t need more dogmas and creeds– the world needs maybe just a handful of brave disciples who would be as salt and light- who by the authenticity of their commitment and generosity would be a spectacular sign of the transforming power of the gospel, the transforming power of love.

Fidelity in the final analysis is all about walking the road we have chosen with the Lord, it is our life poured out so that others might have life and it is about struggling if we have to until the very end.

So with you I praise the Lord for this wonderful missionary vocation that is yours. I praise the Lord for the beautiful gift of yourselves to our Society and to Africa. And we praise the Lord for your families and friends who have and are very much part of this wonderful calling that is yours.

Francis Barnes M.Afr.

How to help the Mozambique Sector

Some communities seem not have received the letter from Mozambique sector requesting help :

Dear confreres and Friends and Benefactors and People of Good will, greetings from Beira.

The cyclone Idai that hit Mozambique on the night of 14th -15th March 2019, left the people of the Central region of the country with pain and helpless: hundreds of people reported dead.   

People around us have neither food nor shelters as their houses have been damaged. Our parish community in Dombe is in the worst situation. More than 600 people there are taking refuge at the parish school. Our workers and neighbours in Beira have no houses. Sussundenga is not better.

In the Sector house, we lost part of our wall and part of our house.

At Nazaré Centre of Formation, a good number of structures are left roofless.

Our confrere Raphaël Gasimba escaped death as he fell into waters that crossed and split the road, with his car on a journey to Dombe where he is serving. The Toyota Hilux Double Cabine which he was using and some of his personal belongings are lost.

Grateful to God for the safe lives, we are calling upon your generous support in any of the areas mentioned. We thank you for your concern and prayers. Will update you on how the general situation unfold.

Details of our Bank

Missionários de África
Account in US Dollars: 20877214
Account in MZN: 4370627
Swift code: BIMOMZMX

Yours sincerely,

Boris Yabre, M.Afr.
Sector Superior


Update on the Mozambique situation

We have just received the following message from Boris Yabre, M.Afr., Provincial Delegate for Mozambique.

Dear confreres and Friends and Benefactors and People of Good will, greetings from Beira.

Six days ago, I sent you a SOS message sharing with you about what we are living on the ground and appealing for help.

We want to thank each and every one of you for your constant prayers and growing concern. Some of you have already sent your contributions to alleviate the pains of the people around us; others are still looking for the ways and means to do so. We wholeheartedly say thank you.

On Tuesday, the Archbishop of Beira called for an urgent meeting of the pastoral agents of the archdiocese. About hundred people or so were present. we shared about the current situation of the people at the various places of the diocese.

Putting aside the lost lives, people are in extreme need of food, drinking water and shelters. Some incidents occurred by which the population went and broke some shops in order to get food without fearing the police presence.  There is no guaranty and certainty if the humanitarian aid is reaching everywhere. Bureaucracy, protocols, greed can be a hindrance to that.

The majority of the parish churches, chapels and schools are down or roofless. Many convents and presbyteries suffered.  The archbishop suspended all the pastoral planned activities until further notice. The urgency of the time is to be with the people, share their pains and give them hope regardless of their religious, political and ethnical affiliation. We were reminded not to lose sight on what the Lord may want to tell us through this calamity.

This 4th Sunday of Lent celebration is dedicated to pray for the victims of the cyclone Idai all over the archdiocese of Beira. Each parish will make special collection today to help its most affected people.

The sad reality is that in the market places the prices of essential products have gone higher. The price of iron sheet and cement have gone up in a moment where people are in dire need. The lusalite (asbestos) sheets cannot be sold to ordinary people. It is reserved for government use in order to fix first the public structures: Government offices and schools.

In the Sector house and Nazaré Centre of Formation, what occupied the mind these last days was to make some cleaning up: gathering the iron sheet left here and there by the wind, clearing the ground as most of the mango and coconut trees were down, in order to give way and protect ourselves. So far there is no electricity. Only the ‘chosen few” have access to it. At least, the Central Hospital have electricity and the Health Centres are using generators. Right now, the city of Beira is running out of generators on sale. To have one there is need to order it from Chimoio or Tete.

Sussundenga has no electricity neither. Those who lost their houses are given only tents by the Red Cross. The fields are swept away by the waters giving way to despair and the imminence of a year of hunger.

In Dombe there is rising need of food, shelters, and drinking water. For whatever reason, it is one of the forgotten places of the country. The fields got flooded and the crops are gone.  Our community chapels in some villages which partly fell are where some families are living.

On the estimates you can add ‘we shall try to come up with so concrete figures by the end of this week for what our Confreres may need for their missions and in order to contribute to helping the needy…

So far, we cannot give any estimate of what could cost the reconstruction of our structures: Nazaré Centre of formation, the Sector house. It seems to be too soon to have clear references, giving the general chaos we are in. We shall try to come up with so concrete figures by the end of this week for what our Confreres may need for their mission and in order to contribute to helping the needy.

The families of our candidates which we managed to contact are safe. They do also have some challenges like anybody else. Our confreres and stagiaires are doing well. They continue to be close to the people and to face with them the test of time.

Boris Yabre, M.Afr.
Provincial Delegate

  • The big chapel of Nazaré
  • Desolation in Nazare
  • Desolation in Nazare
  • Dombe, what remains of maize fields
  • Dombe camp of tents for the homeless
  • Maize fields swept by water in Sussudenga.
  • Some people trying to regain their villages after the flood for a new giving with almost nothing in Matarara- Dombe
  • The remaining of a community chapel serves as a shelter for this family
  • Improvised homes
  • Drinking water has to be supplied...

Cyclone Idai – News from Hugh Seenan (Facebook)

Thanks to all who have been worried about me here in Malawi or worried about Beira, getting in touch with me or my family. Where I am in Malawi, where I’ve been for the last year, we have had good weather. I was in Beira for 10 years before that. It’s been devastating seeing the reports. Over the years I’ve been in all the places from Beira to Chimanimani in Zimbabwe, even in Buzi where you see everybody on top of buildings without food. It is only in the last couple of days that I started getting news from friends and former neighbours. Slowly they are clearing up trying to repair their homes. It’s good to hear. Nazaré Centre , Beira Archdiocesan Pastoral Centre, where I worked, was badly hit. Some pictures follow. They have started cleaning up but it will be a while before they can receive groups. All going well, I will go there for Holy Week. Thanks for remembering me. Pray for everyone affected and the relief teams. God Bless,

Hugh Seenan, M.Afr.