Chapter communication – 19th June 2022

Chapter Communication - 19 June 2022

For all that has been, thanks
For all that will be, yes

These were the opening words of the recollection led by Dave Sullivan on Saturday morning, and were a quote from Dag Hammarskjöld, a former UN Secretary General. These words express many of the central attitudes needed for the leaders of the Missionary Society of Africa to implement the acts of Chapter 2022, thankfulness, gratitude openness, hope.

Fr. Dave wanted to encourage the capitulants to put Chapter 2022 into practice by also using the following texts:   

    • Luke 12 (41-46): the parable of the stewards
    • Matthew 23 (14-30): the parable of the talents
    • Haggai 2 (1-5): Nehemiah and the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem

These texts contain an exhortation to faithful commitment, perseverance and courage in the face of adversity. This commitment must be lived with responsibility, intelligence, respect and faith in the Lord. It is also a reminder of the Lord’s presence and support in carrying out the work undertaken in his name. “I am with you” is the promise of Jesus at the Ascension. We are called to hear it today at the end of the chapter and make it ours once more.


The Superior General thanked all the capitulants. He set in motion the internal rules of the Chapter, including the signing of the Chapter report and the closing vote submitted to the assembly. He officially declared the twenty-ninth Chapter of the Missionaries of Africa closed.

During the evening, a BBQ was held in the house garden to allow all the members of the chapter and the community to meet in a friendly and relaxed way, to say goodbye and good luck as some have to fly early to their mission destinations.


The Superior General, Fr Stan Lubungo, led the Eucharist. During the homily, he underlined that the feast of the Body and Blood of Jesus allows us to celebrate our faith in the Eucharist. He showed from some biblical texts that the Eucharist is the expression of God’s concern and support for us throughout our lives. The Eucharist must be understood in the line of the incarnation of God who comes to share our humanity and who makes himself entirely present in it and confirms it through the Eucharist, his Body and Blood.

Fr. Stan Lubungo added that the celebration of the Body and Blood of Jesus enhances the meaning of our chapter, because the Eucharist is the centre of our life and, during the chapter, the Eucharist remained at the heart of our sharing. May we, in the footsteps of Jesus, give our lives to others and for them too.

Today’s liturgy included a short rite of welcome for the new General Council and the handing over of power. On the welcoming side, each member of the former General Council said a word and gave a welcome gift to a member of the new Council. 

    • Francis Barnes to Francis Bomansaan: a fundamental word of the Jewish faith: the “Shema Israel”, “Hear Israel, you shall love your God with all your heart, with all your soul”.
    • Ignatius Anipu to Anselme Tarpaga: a plate with inscriptions in Arabic, signifying that the White Fathers are dedicated to dialogue and encounter with the Muslim world.
    • Didier Sawadogo to Maria Joseph Leo Laurence: the vade mecum of the houses of formation with the mission of making our candidates apostles, nothing but apostles.
    • Martin Grenier to Pawel Hulecki: a cross with “Peace” written on it and a document from AFJN to signify the important commitment of Missionaries of Africa to peace and dialogue in the world.

The second part of the handover rite consisted of the exchange of the 150-year jubilee chasubles between the councillors of the former General Council and those of the new council. The latter then took the place of the former as concelebrants at the side of the Superior General.

The use of Bishop Livinhac’s chalice brought a special solemnity and significance to the celebration. Bishop Lininhac was the only Superior General to have been re-elected for successive terms. And he died in 1922.

The Superior General and the two General Councils’ members will spend time together during this week. This is a time of  sharing between the two councils during which there will be much exchange and passing on of information.

During this time, the chapter members will fly to their respective destinations… not because the chapter is over, but rather because it is starting to come alive in our communities and missions

Finally, I would like to thank you for your loyalty in reading the Chapter’s communications. I hope that these communications have sparked your interest in the Chapter and the Missionary Society of Africa.

The communications stop, but we remain united through our missionary vocation and through prayer.

Peace and blessings.

Thank you to Pawel Hulecki who faithfully took pictures throughout the Chapter and to Yago for today’s pictures. Other pictures of the Eucharistic celebration will follow.

Chapter communication – 18th June 2022

Chapter Communication - 18 June 2022

Salvador has been in hospital for a few days and I (Philippe Docq) am back in Brussels. Seeing nothing coming from Jean Lamonde, I post these few pictures, under the risk that they become completely out of date.  

Here are the slides projected during the last spiritual input at the very end of the chapter. Thank you Dave Sullivan.

Chapter Communication – 17th June 2022

Chapter Communication - 17 June 2022

This morning the last working session of the chapter took place. The purpose of this session was to complete the various votes on both the latest texts and the amendments that had been proposed. A moderator then recalled the importance of the post-capitular assemblies in order to be able to reap the fruits of the Chapter over the next six years. The moderators and the Superior General thanked the capitulants for their work over the past five weeks.

An evaluation grid for the Chapter has been placed on line and the capitulants will complete it over the next few hours.

Tomorrow morning’s programme consists of a short recollection and the signing of the Chapter minutes. Finally, the Superior General will officially close the Chapter. 

Long before the Chapter, the idea of having a paperless, ecological Chapter was raised. We are happy to confirm that this plan has been realised. No photocopying was needed for the plenary work, nor for the team work, nor for the voting. The texts were on the disk of our chapter website and everyone could consult the relevant documents for the day, both for the first reading and for the second and last minute editing. Putting the texts on the big screen made discussion and voting much easier. This required an increase in the capacity of the house’s WIFI, as the community grew from 45 members to over 80.

An electronic voting system simplified the voting process and saved the capitulants a lot of time.

This is the penultimate communication. The last one will contain some reflections from Saturday’s recollection and from the homily at Sunday’s Eucharist.

Chapter Communication – 16th June 2022

Chapter Communication - 16 June 2022

We are in the very last stage of the Chapter 2022. There are only a few hours and a few tasks left to do. Those tasks consist of making the clarifications required during the appreciative (orientation) vote in view of the final vote. 

In fact, the capitulants are responsible for voting on the work and sharing of the last four weeks. This task began at the beginning of the week. Today, there were 10 texts read in preparation for voting, 13 appreciative (orientation) votes and 8 final votes.

During the breaks, several capitulants joined the confreres and the family of our confrere Michael Mawelera in following on the link the funeral taking place in Mbeya. They have united our hearts and prayers for the repose of our confrere Michael Mawelera. May the Lord grant him his peace, joy, love, confirm the apostolate he accomplished throughout his missionary life and grant him forgiveness.

N.B.: I believe that tomorrow will be the end of the chapter work. Do not be surprised if you do not receive a communication. The Eucharist closing the chapter will be on Sunday morning and I will send some news of it. 

Chapter Communication – 15th June 2022

Chapter Communication - 15 June 2022

The morning of June the 15th  was dedicated to reflection and prayer through an intervention of Fr David Sullivan who asked the capitulants to integrate and appropriate for themselves the vision that emerged from the Chapter. They must live it with conviction and confidence, allow themselves to be transformed by it and pass it on to all the confreres afterwards. Only in this way can they become worthy ambassadors of the Chapter that is about to end.

The ascension and Pentecost offer us a good example of the apostles’ appropriation of the Gospel. Jesus was no longer physically with them. Yet they took the right decisions and initiatives to witness to the Gospel and the love of God. They did not proclaim the Gospel because they were obliged to, but rather because they were convinced of it, because the Gospel was no longer simply Jesus’ Gospel but their own. In addition, they accepted that their lives be shaped by it.

Fr. Sullivan placed great emphasis on the principle of subsidiarity, which consists of sharing authority with those in charge at lower levels, giving them more freedom of action and decision. As a result, decisions are taken more quickly and with more understanding of the situation. This empowerment conveys energy and commitment in the lives of people.

This practice does not take away the responsibility of major superiors. This responsibility consists in inspiring the confreres to commit themselves and to see to the concrete application of the Chapter. The vision that emerges from the Chapter comes from the grassroots through the various pre-capitular assemblies and returns to the grassroots through the post-capitular assemblies. Through prayer, fraternity and dialogue, the Chapter will revive our charism and inspire our missionary commitment to Africa and to the world of today.

The atmosphere was business-like in the afternoon. The capitulants voted on some documents and read others. Finally, there was a discussion about some amendments to the constitutions.

Chapter communication – 14th June 2022

Chapter Communication - 14 June 2022

In the aftermath of the papal audience, the two topics discussed were the two aspects of governance, human resources and financial and material resources. I will deal with them very briefly. The afternoon saw the presentation of the first texts to be submitted to the vote of the assembly.


One of the important points contained in the proposed text concerns the consultation and appointment of the major superiors of the society. We are aware that the appointment of major superiors is not always easy. Interculturality and competence are central to the appointment of major superiors. The leaders of the mega provinces are dedicated to the animation of the confreres. They strive to promote co-responsibility and subsidiarity in the exercise of their functions.

A notable progress is that the provinces have their own statutes. Relations between the provincials and the General Council are good and constructive.

In spite of the precautions taken to carry out consultations, there are sometimes murmurings when major superiors are appointed.


The financial and material resources of the Society are at the service of the mission. We are grateful and aware of how much Providence has supported us over the years. This same Providence urges us to take the necessary steps to vary and increase the Society’s income and also to better budget and control our expenses, to favour our simple lifestyle. We appreciate the efforts made by society to audit, to start income-generating and self-sufficient projects. We are becoming more and more aware of the capacity of Africa to support our mission and to help us financially, either through the concrete help of individuals, or the creation of a development fund at the level of provinces or large centres in Africa.

The chapter reminds all confreres that the financial stability of the society does not rest solely on the shoulders of the bursars, but on those of all members of the society. Co-responsibility, generosity and transparency are fundamental to the long-term sound management of our material resources.


The chapter is in its final week. Only a few texts have to be passed to the plenary assembly for final correction.  Voting on the ready texts has begun and is following a very rigorous and methodical process.

Chapter Communication – 13th June 2022

Chapter Communication - 13 June 2022

The audience with Pope Francis took place this morning with more than fifty confreres. I am sharing with you a short text that Didier Sawadogo was kind enough to write for our daily communication.

Papal Audience with the capitulants on 13 June 2022

We were welcomed at the Bronze Gate at 11.45am and taken to the Clementine Hall dedicated to Pope Clement VIII. We were 51 Missionaries of Africa and Sister Inarra Maria-Begona, observer at the Chapter on behalf of the MSOLA.

It was a busy morning for the Pope who entered the Clementine Hall at 1.05 pm to the applause of the capitulants.

Stan Lubungo, took the floor to greet the Pope and give us news.  He began by thanking the Pope for his welcome and recalled that on 8 February 2019, we had the joy and privilege of being welcomed with our MSOLA Sisters by him as part of the celebration of the 150th anniversary of the foundation of our two institutes.  We were encouraged and carried by his strong words inviting us to be faithful to our origins in order to commit ourselves fearlessly to the path of mission in order to bear witness that “God is always new, He who pushes us to go without respite and to move beyond what is known, towards the peripheries and the frontiers”. Today,” the Superior General told the Pope, “you welcome us once again in the context of our General Chapter, another important stop to reread the past and turn towards the future with hope.  He shared with the Pope our joy at the announcement of his visit to Congo and South Sudan, two countries where we are and share the life of the people. We pray that his health will allow him to carry out this missionary journey as soon as possible in order to strengthen the people who expect a lot from this visit. He ended by sharing with the Pope the sad news of the death of our confrere, Michael Mawelera, who was killed in Mbeya, Tanzania on 10 June.

In response, the Pope began by reiterating his desire to visit Congo and South Sudan, but also shared the difficulty of travelling at his age: “To my great regret, I had to postpone my trip to Congo and South Sudan. Indeed, at my age, it is not so easy to go on mission! But your prayers and your example give me courage, and I am confident that I will be able to visit these peoples, whom I hold in my heart,” he said.  He added: “On 3 July, the day I was to celebrate in Kinshasa, we will take Kinshasa to St Peter’s, and there we will celebrate with all the Roman Congolese, who are numerous.

He remembered our Jubilee well and asked us to pass on his greetings to the confreres and the MSOLA Sisters. He reminded us that looking back with gratitude as we do on the occasion of our Chapter is a sign of good spiritual health. Gratitude opens us to hope. Therefore, he invited us to move forward in gratitude and hope. Taking up the quotation of our founder, quoted by the Superior General, the Holy Father reminded us that the apostle is not the one who proselytises. Proselytising is not evangelical. The apostle is a witness. Witness is based on two things: fraternity and prayer. A good example of this is the life of Saint Charles de Foucauld, the universal brother.

To conclude, the Holy Father invited us to the joy of the Gospel, to be joyful missionaries who sow joy in spite of the context of poverty and insecurity before giving us his apostolic blessing and inviting us to pray for him.

N.B.: You can read the full text of the Holy Father’s message on this very blog.

During the afternoon, the capitulants devoted themselves, for the second time during this Chapter, to interculturality and to the identity and formation of the brothers. The texts will be further polished. I cannot bring you much that is new. However, I will take up with you some of the realities that attracted the attention of the participants.


Interculturality is part of our charism, our lifestyle and our mission. It remains a central element of our evangelical witness where we live. Our intercultural communities arouse in us an interest in knowing the cultures of our confreres and they increase in us the desire and willingness to learn and love those of the peoples we serve.

Interculturality in our midst enriches us as a society, as missionary communities and as individuals with the qualities of our different peoples. It is a sign of dialogue between cultures, peoples and religions. It is also a witness of universal brotherhood for the world today.

The aim of our interculturality is not to build a small private intercultural bastion. We are called to integrate and transmit interculturality to the peoples through our encounters, our pastoral missionary initiatives, our visits and apostolate to all.

The capitulants do not take for granted this characteristic of interculturality that is so significant for us. They have therefore looked at ways of protecting it and living it better.


The Society of Missionaries of Africa is composed of brothers and priests. All of us have the same common missionary vocation and live the same charism bequeathed to us by Cardinal Lavigerie. All of us develop a strong prayer life, all of us live community life, all of us are affected by interculturality, life away from our families, learning the language and customs, and all of us want to be witnesses of the Gospel. This common missionary vocation, which is ours, is lived in two ways, as brothers and as priests. The presence and apostolate of the brothers in our society is a treasure to be treasured and it is clear that the Society of the Missionaries of Africa would not be what it is today without the presence and contribution of the brothers among us. All of us are missionaries and apostles. The evangelical witness of the brothers makes that of society more complete and whole.

A large part of the discussion focused on the formation of the brothers, which needs to be clarified. What formation and for what purpose? There is no ready-made answer to the question because the formation of the brothers requires a personalised professional component in order to exercise its mission effectively.

Chapter communication – 11th June 2022

Chapter Communication - 11 June 2022

The chapter is progressing and the computers are becoming more and more active in producing more precise texts to present to the assembly. These texts also contain recommendations. The plenary assembly approves the content and the teams get back to work on a text taking into account the suggestions of the plenary. Their adoption and vote is scheduled for next week. Today, two themes were presented: Justice and Peace and Integrity of Creation, as well as Ongoing Formation with the Care and Accompaniment of Confreres. I leave you with a short overview

The chapter members visit the PISAI in the afternoon. Tomorrow, Sunday, is a free day and the audience with the Pope will be held on Monday morning.


“I am man, injustice to other men revolts my heart. I am man, oppression outrages my nature. I am man, cruelty to so many of my fellow men inspires only horror. I am a man, and what I would like to see done to give me back my freedom, my honour, the sacred bonds of the family, I want to do in order to give the sons of these peoples their honour, their freedom, their dignity” (Cardinal Lavigerie, Conference on African slavery, Rome, Church of the Gesu, 28 December 1888).

This quotation from Cardinal Lavigerie quickly brought us to reality. It expresses the Cardinal’s motivation and compassion for those who suffer. Our founder was touched by human suffering. The Society’s commitment to Justice and Peace and the Integrity of Creation dates from its origins. Didn’t the cardinal himself care for orphans and slaves? The Society has founded centres for social studies, promoted development and conducted sessions to walk with the people with whom we live and to enable them to take control of their own destiny. 

Following the example of our founder, we are called to see the sufferings of the people of our time, to allow ourselves to be challenged by them and to take action, especially as insecurity, violence, migration, war and climate change disrupt human life and increase suffering.

It is crucial that we commit ourselves to justice and peace and the protection of the common home wherever we are. Today, under the initiative of Pope Francis and the universal Church, the Laudato si platform calls us to join the whole Church in taking relevant and prophetic actions in this direction. How will we participate in this platform?

Now the mission of Justice and Peace and Integrity of Creation is carried out in collaboration with many partners and networks, of which the universal and local Church is part. This collaboration generates solidarity among those who are dedicated to this mission. It helps to counteract our sense of powerlessness in the face of the immense task of this mission and to rekindle our hope.


The purpose of ongoing formation is to better equip us for our mission and to make us more competent and effective in our activities. All professions in the world have ongoing formation requirements to ensure that their members remain well informed of new findings and to update their knowledge. Good ongoing formation helps the person to maintain a balanced life with the ability to manage the different aspects of life well: professional, human, spiritual, etc.

Once again, we note how much our society has invested in promoting the growth and competence of its members with, among other things, retreats, sabbaticals, different sessions or studies, etc. We are grateful for this.

As the world becomes more polarised and violence and issues beyond our control increase, the circumstances of mission generate inner tensions and conflicts in missionaries. The Society does not forget the confreres who are forced to live with deep inner wounds and wants to accompany and support them on the path of life and the conquest of health. It reminds us of how a good community life can serve as a beneficial set-up for these confreres. Moreover, it counts on each of us to express to them all the fraternal attention, love, support and solidarity they need.

Chapter communication – 10th June 2022

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 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.




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. 





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.




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)

Chapter communication – 9th June 2022

Chapter Communication - 9 June 2022

As the chapter progresses, the topics discussed become more and more condensed. Teams have started to present texts to the plenary. And the drafting committee is increasingly busy examining them and refining the language in order to come up with the best possible expression of the fruit of the capitulants’ sharing. Today four components of our mission were presented to the plenary assembly: our charism and the evangelical counsels, sharing our charism with the laity, primary evangelisation and integrity of ministry.


The capitulants returned to the Missionaries of Africa’s oath which contains the central core of our missionary charism. We are called to better understand the oath, its content, its demands, its challenges, its limitations and its implications for our lives. It is crucial that we perceive more clearly what prevents us from living our oath in an integral, authentic and prophetic way.


More and more people are approaching us, Missionaries of Africa, with the desire to live our charism with a deeper commitment than that of practical and professional collaboration. They seek a spirituality that motivates them. They are attracted to our missionary charism and spirituality. The discussions focused on how to share our charism with the laity, what kind of group/association will emerge, our link with the group and our contribution to support it, especially in the beginning. What will be the mission of this group? How do we proceed in the creation of such an association so that it becomes autonomous? What are the steps and implications for us as a society?

The provincial could initiate this task where it is possible to do so and according to the concrete context of the place. As the provinces are quite varied, it is likely that a particular group will identify more with the priorities of the Missionaries of Africa in that place.


Primary evangelisation shaped us from the first days of our foundation in Algeria. It required us to be sent to areas of Africa that had not yet been touched by the Gospel message. Places of first evangelisation still exist in Africa, places inhabited by large non-Christian majorities, or places where the local Church has not reached sufficient maturity to incarnate the Christian faith in its environment.

We put into practice the requests of our founder to insert ourselves as best we could into the African communities that welcomed us. This is how we learned the language of the people, their customs. This enculturation also shaped us in our contacts with the people. Today, we realise that it is essential to insist on the different elements of enculturation, such as learning the language, the stability of our communities. We want to immerse ourselves more in the culture of the people who welcome us so that the Gospel of Jesus Christ may take root there. We are called to deepen our gospel witness.


In considering the integrity of ministry, the Chapter members knew that they were dealing with a very delicate subject. Delicate because it reveals our vulnerability and a lack of authenticity on our part, because it touches on everything in our behaviour that, in one way or another, generates suffering in those around us and those who collaborate with us. Delicate because it affects the credibility of our missionary witness. Delicate also because it affects several components of our life: relationships with people, our leadership style, our managemet of material goods, or the way we live our friendships, our relaxation, not forgetting our prayer and community life. All of these require constant attention to our discipline and lifestyle.

We recognise the immense work that the Society has done in recent years in the area of integrity of ministry, both within our Society and with the communities we serve. We are determined to strengthen our commitment to the prevention and protection of minors and vulnerable persons, and to work in the line that Pope Francis is outlining for the whole universal Church.