Chapter Communication - 10 June 2022
The Chapter remains with the same dynamic as the teams present their writings to the plenary assembly for correction and verification and to be reworked according to the views and proposals of the assembly. To use a culinary image, it is a matter of simmering the sauce with another mixture of the same ingredients to get the desired flavour. As yesterday, four documents took the day, two in the morning and two in the afternoon. These were: mission outside Africa, collaboration and listening to the local Church, encounter-dialogue-Islam-traditional African religions-ecumenism-new religious movements and initial prophetic formation. I briefly share with you some of the elements that attracted the attention of the participants.
MISSION OUTSIDE AFRICA
AMERICA – ASIA – EUROPE
“Mission to the African world”, “mission where our charism is called upon”, “not to spread ourselves too thin”. And of course “for the world of today”. How can we apply these expressions to the needs of our world today? To answer these questions properly, we must first be convinced of our mission of evangelisation. Secondly, it is good to remind ourselves that mission is addressed to people, not to a place or territory. There is nothing new here, because our charism has led us since the very beginning of our society to live in proximity to the people. Moreover, today’s world reveals many painful human realities that fit very well with our missionary charism.
This set of considerations does not mean that we should disperse and accept everything, especially since it is important to take into account the personnel available in our missionary society.
COLLABORATION AND LISTENING TO THE LOCAL CHURCH
The local African Church is growing more and more and invites us to live our mission within it. When it welcomes us, it usually does so with the knowledge of our missionary charism and offers us a specific mission that corresponds to our charism. Today, the local bishop is responsible for the mission in his circumscription and we work under his directives.
Collaborating with and listening to the African Church implies that we participate in its life, meetings, committees, pastoral care and evangelisation efforts. This requires a deep insertion on our part by learning the customs, culture and language, by knowing the mentality, what the people of that region live, what makes them laugh and cry. As such knowledge is not acquired quickly, it is necessary to establish stable communities there. Whatever the circumstances in which we find ourselves, the same love of Jesus and of the people drives us to serve the local Church.
ENCOUNTER – DIALOGUE – ISLAM – TRADITIONAL AFRICAN RELIGIONS
ECUMENISM – NEW RELIGIOUS MOVEMENTS
The words of Pope Francis resounded during this sharing: we are called to be bridge-builders between men and women of today, to promote a culture of encounter and fraternity and respect for the good of all humanity, to work for peace where we live.
Through our missionary experience, we are recognised for our initiatives towards Islam and the traditional African religions. These initiatives are not outdated; the PISAI, IFIC, Senufo Centre show our long-standing commitment in this area.
We do not take this apostolate for granted. Indeed, some of our confreres have had to abandon their mission posts because of violence and insecurity. It happens regularly that there is no response to our efforts to encounter and dialogue. This fact shows us how much perseverance we need to last in dialogue and encounter. Once again, the importance of the stability of our missionary communities became apparent, because we are dealing with a long-term prophetic witness.
Formation plays a great role in preparing candidates for this type of commitment and in making us understand that dialogue and encounter are not the contribution of a few experts among us. Our formation houses are tools to explain Islam, the Maghreb and the mission of dialogue to the missionaries of Africa of tomorrow.
INITIAL PROPHETIC FORMATION
The exchanges on this subject led the capitulants to an appreciative description of our formation, with its four phases, the vade mecum, the formation of formators, interculturality, etc. The initial formation of the missionaries of Africa is spiritual, academic and human. In short, it is integral and aims at the whole person of the candidate. Prophetic initial formation takes into account the realities of today’s world, such as economic and health crises, insecurity, polarisation, violence, political, social and economic issues and pluralism. It equips the person to grow in human and spiritual maturity, and to understand and serve the society in which they live. It also aims to imbue the candidate with the missionary spirit of our society and to be available to serve and love where no one else will go.
The formators see how crucial the selection of candidates by the vocational animator is for the proper functioning of the houses of formation.
The photos are taken by Pawel Hulecki, who occupies every day the same place. Of course, the photos are everyday quite similar, although if you pay attention to the slides projected, you will feel a little more part of the Chapter’s process. Thank you to Pawel. Occasionally, Andreas and Salvador are also sharing some photos. Thank you to them. (Signed: Philippe Docq)