The Missionaries of Africa, brothers, sisters and fathers, were the guests of Ottawa’s Catholic Cathedral on May 11 and 12 to celebrate their 150th anniversary of foundation. Indeed, Cardinal Lavigerie founded the Society of Missionaries of Africa in 1868 and the Congregation of the Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Africa in 1869.
“They left, without knowing what was in store for them, they signed a blank cheque and they did it with their hearts and for life. Strengthened by the word of Christ: “I am with you always…” They had confidence! And they were not disappointed. “These words spoken by Sister Jacqueline Picard resonated within the cathedral enclosure from the beginning of the Eucharistic celebration. “We also say THANK YOU to Africa who has given us so much, who has enriched us with her incredible human values. Africa has loved and transformed us,” she added. »
The main reason for the missionaries’ testimony was to thank the Church of Ottawa, Christians and ecclesiastical authorities, “for their material and spiritual support during all these years. We missionaries have the joy of fulfilling our dream when we are leaving, but for the parents, it is a sacrifice they have to make every time we retrn to Africa after a leave of absence,” added Sister Jacqueline.
Cardinal Lavigerie wrote to the first nuns: “Despite the zeal of the missionaries (men), their efforts will never produce sufficient fruit if they are not helped by women-apostles among the women. Women must be the most powerful missionaries of the African people.”
Fathers Serge St-Arneault and Gilles Barrette animated the liturgies while appreciating the appropriate decoration, including a banner illustrating the different countries where the missionaries work in Africa. The mission continues with the arrival of young girls and boys, mainly African, who continue their formation in order to follow in the footsteps of their predecessors, all of whom are committed to witnessing to their faith in the name of Jesus Christ.
Many thanks to the Archbishop of the Diocese of Ottawa, Most Reverend Terrence Prendergast, S.J. for his hospitality.
It is worth noting the presence of Father Walter Vogels, M.Afr, who is visiting Ottawa. Father Vogels has taught for more than 40 years in the universities of Ottawa. He now resides in Belgium.