On-going Formation

Following this link, you will find on a daily basis new material to deepen your reflection on the main points of the Chapter

Petit Echo

For your convenience, the main articles written by our confreres in current the Petit Echo are available in a format easy to read, even on a smartphone or a tablet

150th Anniversary

In 2018, we will celebrate 150 years of existence of our Society. While we are waiting for some more material from the Preparation Committee, do enjoy the few videos we offer you

Homilies

Here, you will find some links to interesting websites for your personal meditation or the preparation of your homilies

Threats of violence at our doorsteps

Violence Around Us

The prevalence of violence as a destructive form of human behaviour has sadly become a recurrent episode of our lives, “a human universal,” according to political anthropologist Jon Abbink. In this context of widespread violence and growing insecurity, we are called upon to bear witness to God’s kingdom of love and peace. This ever-growing volatile situation presents the greatest challenge to our ministry today. The increased frequency and lethality of violent incidents in many conflict zones around the globe – Yemen, Gaza, Ukraine, and particularly in Africa – can no longer be ignored. This trend is deeply concerning because prolonged exposure to indiscriminate violence has several detrimental consequences, particularly for children and women who are susceptible to harm.

According to Human Rights Watch’s World Report, in 2023, over 15 armed conflicts, including in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Mali, Burkina Faso, and South Sudan, have caused a humanitarian crisis and human tragedy with untold suffering to refugees, internally displaced people and vulnerable civilians Unfortunately, it is common for violence and insecurity to be intertwined, as an increase in one often leads to a corresponding increase in the other. The constant apprehension of potential danger or harm creates an atmosphere of anxiety and insecurity. When people face greater threats to their safety and well-being, they tend to experience heightened levels of insecurity. Against this backdrop, our time’s moral challenge is to succumb to the allure of increased violence as the preferred problem-solving mechanism. It poses a fundamental question for world security and the survival of humanity.

In this respect, conflict experts define violence as a social, physical, or psychological act against oneself, another person, or a community that is intended to cause harm, injury, deprivation, death, or damage to people or property. It is a form of aggressive behaviour that can manifest in various ways, such as physical violence (e.g., hitting, punching), verbal violence (e.g., threats, insults), emotional or psychological violence (e.g., bullying, manipulation), sexual violence (pedophilia or rape), or systemic violence (embedded institutional injustice). According to statistical data and the existing body of literature, religious and political factors are the primary drivers of widespread violence. For instance, politics and religion are the primary sources of violence and insecurity in Africa. They breed and nurture “structural violence, ” which promotes unequal power relations made up of exploitive and unjust social, political, and economic systems that prevent people from realizing their full potential.

Furthermore, we have witnessed over the past decade a dramatic rise of new radical forms of political and religious violence, with their acute expressions culminating in transnational organized crime networks and brutal terrorism. Through acts of terrorism, religious radicals, Salafist-jihadi-activists, and violent extremists use coercive means, threats, or ideologically motivated violence to achieve their sectarian, religious, political, and ideological objectives. North Africa, the Sahel, the Great Lakes, and the Horn of Africa have been particularly affected. Terrorist groups like Al Qaeda, the Islamic State, and their home-grown affiliates Boko Haram and Al-Shabab have forced 1.7 million people from their homes, according to the Global Terrorism Index (2020). Collectively, a whopping seven million people are affected by the correlates of terrorism in Africa, and most of them (women and children) remain very apprehensive about their safety today. 

The Way forward: Standing for Peace and Justice

The pervasive violence that permeates our societies and the world in general can be disheartening and leave us feeling powerless. Nevertheless, we must resist the urge to surrender to despair and resignation. To this end, a triple response mechanism is necessary to safeguard the dignity of human life and promote the welfare and safety of all individuals. The primary duty lies with elected leaders and government officials, who must fulfill their responsibility-to-protect (R2P) obligations and the rule of law by implementing well-crafted policy packages that prioritize the security of vulnerable populations. These policy initiatives must address a wide range of good governance and accountability issues, including socioeconomic inequality, poverty, unemployment, systemic discrimination, and marginalization.

The second level of responsibility falls upon traditional chiefs and religious leaders, who must moderate radical views and religiously motivated extremism in the public and political spheres. They are faithful guardians of ancestral heritage and sacred traditions of communities. It is incumbent on them to promote education on non-violence and an authentic culture of peace.

Interfaith initiatives can offer peacebuilding programs to foster inclusive dialogue, tolerance, and peaceful coexistence among people of different ethnic groups and faith traditions. In conflict-ridden areas, investing in restorative justice initiatives is crucial to help mend broken community bonds and foster mutual comprehension to successfully reintegrate offenders into society.

The third step entails personal commitment and involvement. U.S. President John F. Kennedy once eloquently stated, “One person can make a difference, and everyone should try.” This is particularly important for messengers of the gospel in a world in need of peace and reconciliation.

The call to be peacemakers is not optional; on the contrary, it is an essential part of the Gospel message for our time. Blessed are we if we heed this call for God’s children in need of peace and security today.

By: Barthelemy Bazemo (M.Afr.)

Official Communication, Rome, 23rd February 2024

After consultation, dialogue and with the consent of his Council, Father Stanley LUBUNGO, Superior General, has appointed Father Barthelemy BAZEMO Provincial Superior of the Province of the Americas for a first mandate ending on 30th June 2027.

Rome, 23th February 2024

Fr. André-L. Simonart,
Secretary General.

Tizi Ouzou, my hometown

Play Video

In this interview about the life of our confrere Blessed Charles Deckers (M.Afr.), his former student, Salah Selloum shares about the witness of life of our confrere in Tizi Ouzou, Algeria as contained in his book: “Tizi Ouzou, ma ville natale.”

Michel Picquet R.I.P.

Society of the Missionaries of Africa

Father Yvo Wellens, Provincial Delegate of the sector of Belgium,
informs you of the return to the Lord of Father

Michel Picquet

on Monday, 19th February 2024 in Brussels (Belgium)
at the age of 95 years, of which 70 years of missionary life
in Tanzania, Israel, and Belgium.

Let us pray for him and for his loved ones.

Download here the announcement of Father Michel Picquet’s death

(more…)

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth

As it is written in the prophecy of Isaiah: “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth” (Is 53:7 – NRSV). We can see from this prophecy that violence and insecurity are making the headlines. This is because of the various conflicts and wars in several countries. Violence and insecurity are becoming more and more a part of our daily lives, and we fear that they will become second nature, i.e. seen as normal.

So, what do we mean by violence and insecurity? Violence may be understood as the intentional use of physical force or threats against others, groups or a community. In other words, it involves coercion and domination and can cause human and material damage. Violence and insecurity can affect not only physical health but also have psychological consequences, paving the way for possible self-destruction, isolation and depression in victims. They supplant the love and affection humans should have for each other, not to mention undermining efforts to achieve peace and social cohesion in communities. This shows that violence can take different forms.

What types of violence and what are the remedies?

Violence can be psychological, verbal, economic and physical. It can also occur in the family, public spaces and institutions such as schools. Despite all this, we remain animated by an unshakeable hope for an eventual return of love and peace in communities if appropriate awareness-raising campaigns on the consequences of violence and insecurity are carried out. In particular, we are considering setting up awareness-raising programmes for the youth to eradicate any behaviour and social norms that encourage and facilitate this phenomenon. What’s more, setting up appropriate structures can help victims in the event of violence. In other words, there should be follow-up and support for the victims of violence in the communities while providing appropriate security in these areas. It is also important to identify ways of helping young people living in economically or socially disadvantaged conditions. Our experience here in Nigeria has shown that many young people lack the necessities of life. This is an open door to terrorism since money can be used as bait to recruit these young people for terrorism.

My personal experience

Some of you will know that I had the misfortune, along with another confrere, to live through the terrible experience of being kidnapped for three solid weeks. But long before that, we as a community were committed to promoting social cohesion through good neighbourliness and setting up empowerment projects for young people. We also trained the youths to fight against incivism, violence and insecurity in our community. We dared to do all this because we noticed that the population was being left to fend for itself. Everyone had to fight for survival. This situation has led to a lot of violence and insecurity in the area. While we can’t justify violence or insecurity, we recognise that certain situations can cause much damage.

Violence and insecurity are evils that must be eradicated, because they damage the integrity of others. Despite what has happened to us, we remain hopeful for a better tomorrow when people will understand that they are there because the other is there; we all need each other. And our faith tells us that for God, nothing is lost. Nothing is ever too late for God, and nothing is impossible for Him.

By: Paul Sanogo (M.Afr.)

 

Dieudonné Kitumbule R.I.P.

Society of the Missionaries of Africa

Father Arsène Kapya, Provincial of Central Africa,
informs you of the return to the Lord of Father

Dieudonné Kitumbule

on Saturday, 17th February 2024 in Nairobi (Kenya)
at the age of 47 years, of which 16 years of missionary life
in Burkina Faso, Mali and DR Congo.

Let us pray for him and for his loved ones.

Download here the announcement of Father Dieudonné Kitumbule’s death

(more…)

Willian Moroney R.I.P.

Society of the Missionaries of Africa

Father Réal Doucet, Provincial of the Americas,
informs you of the return to the Lord of Father

William Moroney

on Saturday, 17th February 2024 in Nairobi (Kenya)
at the age of 89 years, of which 63 years of missionary life
in Tanzania, USA, France and Kenya.

Let us pray for him and for his loved ones.

Download here the announcement of Father William Moroney’s death

(more…)

Yvon Lavoie R.I.P.

Society of the Missionaries of Africa

Father Réal Doucet, Provincial of the Americas,
informs you of the return to the Lord of Father

Yvon Lavoie

on Wednesday, 14th February 2024 in Québec (Canada)
at the age of 85 years, of which 60 years of missionary life
in Italy, Uganda and Canada.

Let us pray for him and for his loved ones.

Download here the announcement of Father Yvon Lavoie’s death

(more…)