Hans Schmidt, R.I.P.

Society of the Missionaries of Africa

Father Rudi Pint, Provincial Delegate of the sector of Germany,
informs you of the return to the Lord of Father

Hans Schmidt

on Monday 8th March 2021 in Lippetal (Germany)
at the age of 80 years, of which 52 years of missionary life
in DR Congo and in Germany.

Let us pray for him and for his loved ones.

(more…)

Marcel Mangnus, R.I.P.

Society of the Missionaries of Africa

Father Aloysius Ssekamatte, Provincial of East Africa,
informs you of the return to the Lord of Father

Marcel Mangnus

on Sunday 7th March 2021 in Dar es Salaam (Tanzania)
at the age of 82 years, of which 58 years of missionary life
in Tanzania and the Netherlands.

Let us pray for him and for his loved ones.

(more…)

Georg Luckner, R.I.P.

Society of the Missionaries of Africa

Father Rudi Pint, Provincial Delegate of the sector of Germany,
informs you of the return to the Lord of Father

Georg Luckner

on Monday 1st March 2021 at Hechingen (Germany)
at the age of 86 years, of which 60 years of missionary life
in Burundi, Canada and Germany.

Let us pray for him and for his loved ones.

(more…)

Fernand Lambert, 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

Fernand Lambert

on Thursday 25th February 2021 at St Michael’s Clinic (Brussels)
at the age of 91 years, of which 66 years of missionary life
in Congo, Rwanda and Belgium.

Let us pray for him and for his loved ones.

(more…)

Message of the Holy Father Francis for Lent 2021

Message of the Holy Father Francis for Lent 2021

“Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem” (Mt 20:18)

Lent: a Time for Renewing Faith, Hope and Love.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Jesus revealed to his disciples the deepest meaning of his mission when he told them of his passion, death and resurrection, in fulfilment of the Father’s will. He then called the disciples to share in this mission for the salvation of the world.

In our Lenten journey towards Easter, let us remember the One who “humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross” (Phil 2:8). During this season of conversion, let us renew our faith, draw from the “living water” of hope, and receive with open hearts the love of God, who makes us brothers and sisters in Christ. At the Easter vigil, we will renew our baptismal promises and experience rebirth as new men and women by the working of the Holy Spirit. This Lenten journey, like the entire pilgrimage of the Christian life, is even now illumined by the light of the resurrection, which inspires the thoughts, attitudes and decisions of the followers of Christ.

Fasting, prayer and almsgiving, as preached by Jesus (cf. Mt 6:1-18), enable and express our conversion. The path of poverty and self-denial (fasting), concern and loving care for the poor (almsgiving), and childlike dialogue with the Father (prayer) make it possible for us to live lives of sincere faith, living hope and effective charity.

    1. Faith calls us to accept the truth and testify to it before God and all our brothers and sisters.

In this Lenten season, accepting and living the truth revealed in Christ means, first of all, opening our hearts to God’s word, which the Church passes on from generation to generation. This truth is not an abstract concept reserved for a chosen intelligent few. Instead, it is a message that all of us can receive and understand thanks to the wisdom of a heart open to the grandeur of God, who loves us even before we are aware of it. Christ himself is this truth. By taking on our humanity, even to its very limits, he has made himself the way – demanding, yet open to all – that leads to the fullness of life.

Fasting, experienced as a form of self-denial, helps those who undertake it in simplicity of heart to rediscover God’s gift and to recognize that, created in his image and likeness, we find our fulfilment in him. In embracing the experience of poverty, those who fast make themselves poor with the poor and accumulate the treasure of a love both received and shared. In this way, fasting helps us to love God and our neighbour, inasmuch as love, as Saint Thomas Aquinas teaches, is a movement outwards that focuses our attention on others and considers them as one with ourselves (cf. Fratelli Tutti, 93).

Lent is a time for believing, for welcoming God into our lives and allowing him to “make his dwelling” among us (cf. Jn 14:23). Fasting involves being freed from all that weighs us down – like consumerism or an excess of information, whether true or false – in order to open the doors of our hearts to the One who comes to us, poor in all things, yet “full of grace and truth” (Jn 1:14): the Son of God our Saviour.

    1. Hope as “living water” enabling us to continue our journey.

The Samaritan woman at the well, whom Jesus asks for a drink, does not understand what he means when he says that he can offer her “living water” (Jn 4:10). Naturally, she thinks that he is referring to material water, but Jesus is speaking of the Holy Spirit whom he will give in abundance through the paschal mystery, bestowing a hope that does not disappoint. Jesus had already spoken of this hope when, in telling of his passion and death, he said that he would “be raised on the third day” (Mt 20:19). Jesus was speaking of the future opened up by the Father’s mercy. Hoping with him and because of him means believing that history does not end with our mistakes, our violence and injustice, or the sin that crucifies Love. It means receiving from his open heart the Father’s forgiveness.

In these times of trouble, when everything seems fragile and uncertain, it may appear challenging to speak of hope. Yet Lent is precisely the season of hope, when we turn back to God who patiently continues to care for his creation which we have often mistreated (cf. Laudato Si’, 32-33; 43-44). Saint Paul urges us to place our hope in reconciliation: “Be reconciled to God” (2 Cor 5:20). By receiving forgiveness in the sacrament that lies at the heart of our process of conversion, we in turn can spread forgiveness to others. Having received forgiveness ourselves, we can offer it through our willingness to enter into attentive dialogue with others and to give comfort to those experiencing sorrow and pain. God’s forgiveness, offered also through our words and actions, enables us to experience an Easter of fraternity.

In Lent, may we be increasingly concerned with “speaking words of comfort, strength, consolation and encouragement, and not words that demean, sadden, anger or show scorn” (Fratelli Tutti, 223). In order to give hope to others, it is sometimes enough simply to be kind, to be “willing to set everything else aside in order to show interest, to give the gift of a smile, to speak a word of encouragement, to listen amid general indifference” (ibid., 224).

Through recollection and silent prayer, hope is given to us as inspiration and interior light, illuminating the challenges and choices we face in our mission. Hence the need to pray (cf. Mt 6:6) and, in secret, to encounter the Father of tender love.

To experience Lent in hope entails growing in the realization that, in Jesus Christ, we are witnesses of new times, in which God is “making all things new” (cf. Rev 21:1-6). It means receiving the hope of Christ, who gave his life on the cross and was raised by God on the third day, and always being “prepared to make a defense to anyone who calls [us] to account for the hope that is in [us]” (1 Pet 3:15).

    1. Love, following in the footsteps of Christ, in concern and compassion for all, is the highest expression of our faith and hope.

Love rejoices in seeing others grow. Hence it suffers when others are anguished, lonely, sick, homeless, despised or in need. Love is a leap of the heart; it brings us out of ourselves and creates bonds of sharing and communion.

“‘Social love’ makes it possible to advance towards a civilization of love, to which all of us can feel called. With its impulse to universality, love is capable of building a new world. No mere sentiment, it is the best means of discovering effective paths of development for everyone” (Fratelli Tutti, 183).

Love is a gift that gives meaning to our lives. It enables us to view those in need as members of our own family, as friends, brothers or sisters. A small amount, if given with love, never ends, but becomes a source of life and happiness. Such was the case with the jar of meal and jug of oil of the widow of Zarephath, who offered a cake of bread to the prophet Elijah (cf. 1 Kings 17:7-16); it was also the case with the loaves blessed, broken and given by Jesus to the disciples to distribute to the crowd (cf. Mk 6:30-44). Such is the case too with our almsgiving, whether small or large, when offered with joy and simplicity.

To experience Lent with love means caring for those who suffer or feel abandoned and fearful because of the Covid-19 pandemic. In these days of deep uncertainty about the future, let us keep in mind the Lord’s word to his Servant, “Fear not, for I have redeemed you” (Is 43:1). In our charity, may we speak words of reassurance and help others to realize that God loves them as sons and daughters.

“Only a gaze transformed by charity can enable the dignity of others to be recognized and, as a consequence, the poor to be acknowledged and valued in their dignity, respected in their identity and culture, and thus truly integrated into society” (Fratelli Tutti, 187).

Dear brothers and sisters, every moment of our lives is a time for believing, hoping and loving. The call to experience Lent as a journey of conversion, prayer and sharing of our goods, helps us – as communities and as individuals – to revive the faith that comes from the living Christ, the hope inspired by the breath of the Holy Spirit and the love flowing from the merciful heart of the Father.

May Mary, Mother of the Saviour, ever faithful at the foot of the cross and in the heart of the Church, sustain us with her loving presence. May the blessing of the risen Lord accompany all of us on our journey towards the light of Easter.

Rome, Saint John Lateran, 11 November 2020, the Memorial of Saint Martin of Tours

Lenten 2021 leaflets

The General Council has prepared a solid reflection for all the Missionaries of Africa to ponder on. It is intended indeed for the Missionaries of Africa only. Therefore, if this introductory page written by Martin Grenier is available to anybody to read, the other six pages will require your connection to the intranet. 

If you do not have any log in information, or if you have forgotten it, do not hesitate to request one from the webmaster. He will help you asap.

gmg.webmaster@mafr.org

Lenten 2021 reflection

Dear confrères,

Who among us does not from time to time experience his limits, whether intellectual, spiritual, social or physical? An experience that makes me say, “Right now I can’t take it anymore! “or “Right now it is too much! ” or simply sighing and letting go of any other expression that means you’re fed up.

Experiencing my limits is often accompanied by fatigue. A tiredness that sounds the alarm and says to me: “But, rest! Get your strength back!” However, what kind of entertainment or rest will I be using? A rest that will anaesthetise my discomfort quickly or a rest that will generate strength? If I am not careful, I can easily opt for the former and thus not touch the root of my discomfort. In fact, there are a thousand and one ways to anaesthetise a discomfort quickly, but if this way becomes so repetitive that it becomes a habit, then I risk developing an addiction that will make me less free and therefore continually unhappy.

Throughout this Lenten period, we, the members of the General Council, appeal to all our confreres: let us pay attention together to the danger of developing an addiction, especially one related to alcohol. Alcoholism is certainly not the only form of addiction, but the facts show that we are particularly at risk of falling into its trap.

To facilitate this reflection at both a personal and community level, we offer you a series of 4 leaflets to accompany our reflection on this point for each week of Lent. To introduce these cards, we first have a questionnaire that leads us to make a personal assessment, or in other words, to take a close look at different aspects of my daily life, my physical and mental health, and to look at my social and emotional life so that I can take note of how I manage my fatigue and joys, my frustrations, and challenges. Following this are the 4 leaflets, which, at the rate of one per week, will lead us to consider different aspects related to the problem of alcoholism. Each of these cards concludes with a few questions, which we hope will offer the opportunity to share in community on these different points in a friendly and relaxed manner while having a cup of tea, not a beer …

May this reflection, both personal and communal, be for all of us an opportunity to encourage and support one another, while remembering that beautiful passage from the letter to the Hebrews where we read: “We earnestly desire each of you to demonstrate the same eagerness for the fulfilment of hope until the end, so that you may not become sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience are inheriting the promises” (Heb, 6:11-12). Or let us recall another passage from the Gospel of Mark (2:1-12) where four men carried their paralysed brother before Jesus so that he and those who carried him could hear these liberating words: “Rise, pick up your mat and walk!”

Yes, may this time of Lent be for all of us a time when our fatigue is not so much anaesthetised, but rather a time to regenerate our strength and our zeal to follow Jesus!

Martin Grenier, Assistant General.
Rome, 24th January 2021.

Tips for use:

From Ash Wednesday to the first Sunday of Lent it is possible to familiarise oneself personally with the material and to do the “Life Review”: Leaflet 00

First week of Lent (in community): Leaflet 01

Second week of Lent (in community): Leaflet 02

Third week of Lent (in community): Leaflet 03

Fourth week of Lent (in community): Leaflet 04

Fifth week of Lent. After looking at leaflet 05, reflect together on what exists in the country where we live and work (Associations for the support of alcoholics and their families, pastoral action of the local Church, etc.). Can we together make a gesture, or take a decision signifying our journey through this questioning?

Alain Bedel, R.I.P.

Society of the Missionaries of Africa

Father Emmanuel Lengaigne, Provincial Delegate of the sector of France,
informs you of the return to the Lord of Father

Alain Bedel

on Tuesday 16th February 2021 at Pau-Billère (France)
at the age of 96 years, of which 69 years of missionary life
in Tanzania and in France.

Let us pray for him and for his loved ones.

(more…)

Gerard Meert, 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

Gerard Meert

on Friday 12th February 2021 at AZ St Jan Brugge (Belgium)
at the age of 93 years, of which 67 years of missionary life
in DR Congo and Belgium.

Let us pray for him and for his loved ones.

(more…)