Solidary hospitality as the foundation of our intercultural communities

Solidary hospitality as the foundation of our intercultural communities

Inspired by a resolution of the last chapter, the workshop on living in intercultural communities as an apostolic witness brought together 18 confreres, including the animators Freddy Kyombo, Andreas Göpfert and the secretary Jean-Paul Guibila, from 1 to 8 September 2019 at the Generalate.

The overall objective of this gathering was to define an intercultural spirituality with the objective of helping our M.Afr. communities to improve their community witness. It is at this level that solidary hospitality appears to be the notion that best defines the foundation of our intercultural communities.

Thanks to the progressive construction of our international communities, inspired from its foundation by the words of Cardinal Lavigerie, who insisted on “esprit de corps” to witness to Christ and to the values of the Kingdom of God, we are able to periodically evaluate our identity. More than ever, we are taking into account our cultural diversity, which is perceived not as a threat, but rather as a source of wealth. Our deep desire is to witness our unity in diversity.

This poses a serious challenge. Indeed, preserving unity in plurality requires a constant effort. This spirit of unity refers to an awareness of our different ways of thinking or making decisions together. A double movement oscillating between belonging to a group and the subjective feeling of uniqueness, this otherness therefore, allows the acceptance of mutual dependence. Our identity is built on the basis of our diversity.

Thus, our identity must remain plural. Otherwise, there is a risk of rejection of the other to the detriment of community life, a danger of cultural assimilation leading to forms of alienation and a danger of the development of conflict zones. On the other hand, identity consolidation is achieved in a climate of dialogue.

Risks that threaten the development of community identity

An intoxication of the relational climate is increasing with an exaggeration of ethnic differences and their manipulation and instrumentalization. A purification of perceptions is therefore necessary with the development of a critical sense. This will prevent violence.

The identity of the person or group is a multiple composition supported by a mental openness. It is in this context that plurality is the source of identity development that connects individuals and peoples alike through the example of a bridge. In everything, we must avoid the single thought.

Another risk or danger is the spread of discriminatory stereotypes or labels. As persons consecrated to the Kingdom of God, we are particularly chosen to fight against this. The preferred approach is a spirituality of fraternal communion that respects differences. To be a disciple of Christ is to affirm that we are all complementary to each other.

A strong individual and collective identity is both demanding and fully compatible with a spirituality of communion. Indeed, it is based on the stated desire to acquire a new vision of oneself based on the concept of interculturality. It is in this sense that interculturality is perceived by some people or groups as a great provocation.

Difficulties related to constant change

Stereotypes and prejudices are based on cultural codes linked to the relationship that man has established with nature, time, space, disease and death, power.

The variety of cultural behaviours is almost infinite. Nowadays, we must add the presence of digital culture, which poses new challenges.

There is a significant difference between new generations and seniors. The latter have more difficulty keeping up with the pace of digital innovations.

Towards an intercultural spirituality

How can we integrate the spirituality of interculturality into our daily lives?

    1. We must be ready to change our way of looking at and perceiving things.
      1. Developing a constructive approach.
      2. By considering the other person or group as a source of complementarity.
      3. By appreciating the other as a gift to me, not a threat.
      4. In this way, an intercultural community becomes a gift for all.
    2. We must value the diversity that is intended by God.
      1. Following the example of Moses who must take off his shoes to enter the sacred place of the meeting, we too take off our prejudices to prioritize the spirituality of interculturality.
      2. We are all children of the same creator.
      3. Diversity is a gift from God.
      4. Diversity is generated by the Spirit of God.
    3. We must seek to reach or tend towards the spirituality of communion.
      1. To play its role well, the Church should above all be the home or a school of communion.
      2. The best way to do this is to look through the heart, pay attention to the other, see the positive in the other (person or group) and share the burdens.
    4. We must build fraternity (reference: 1 John 4:20).
      1. By expanding our “circle of brotherhood”.
      2. By becoming PLACES OF SOLIDARY HOSPITALITY by promoting true dialogue and the progressive construction of an intercultural spirituality in the welcoming of the other.

Conclusion

We have been focusing a lot on hospitality since our foundation. Solidarity is also part of our way of living in community. There is nothing new about this. On the other hand, by more intimately combining these two dimensions, we are able to incorporate interculturality into our communities. It is then that interculturality is defined as a spirituality, that is, a place of expression of the Spirit, a gift of God.

A reflection of Serge St-Arneault, M.Afr.
Participant in the Workshop

First published in French on his personal blog

Translation: Philippe Docq

Participants in the workshop “Living in intercultural community as an apostolic witness today”, Rome, 1-8 September 2019.

1: Freddy Kyombo. 2: Paul Makambi Kitha. 3: Andreas Göpfert. 4: Michael Mpindo. 5: Jean-Paul Guibila. 6: Georges Jacques. 7: Robert Ubemu. 8: Armand Galay. 9: Daniel Nana. 10:  Paul Johnston. 11: Benjamin Jigeesh. 12: Hans Joachim Lohre. 13: Serge St-Arneault. 14: Serge Boroto. 15: Emmanuel Noufé. 16: Robbin Simbeye. 17: Bonaventure Bwanakweri. 18: Alex Manda.

Giuseppe Mattedi, R.I.P.

Society of the Missionaries of Africa

Father Gaetano Cazzola, Provincial Delegate of the sector of Italy,
informs you of the return to the Lord of Father

Giuseppe Mattedi

on Monday 9th September 2019 at Treviglio (Italy)
at the age of 93 years, of which 67 years of missionary life in
Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania and Italy.

Let us pray for him and for his loved ones.

(more…)

Steven Kambuku becomes a priest

Priestly ordination of Fr. Steven Kambuku

On the 20th of July 2019, the Missionaries of Africa and the Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Africa in the Malawi Sector witnessed the ordination of Fr. Steven Kambuku (M.afr) and Fr. Joseph Palasa (Diocesan). It was a colourful and beautiful ceremony. The ordaining minister was the Archbishop of Lilongwe Archdiocese, Archbishop Tarcisius Zizaye. Present also was the Retired Archbishop Remi Joseph Gustave Sainte-Marie. There were a lot of priests (missionaries from different congregations and diocesans) and religious men and women who also graced the occasion, as well as parishioners from almost all the parishes with the Diocese of Dedza and the neighbouring dioceses.

Rev Fr. Steven Mark Damiano Kambuku who was ordained that day, was born on 30/07/1988 to the family of Mr. Damiano Hamilton Kambuku and Mrs. Calorina Anastazio Chiputula. Fr. Kambuku was the second of four children in the family; three boys, one girl. He did his secondary school education at Bandawe Boys Secondary School, Nambuma Community Development Secondary School in Nambuma, Unity Private and Army Private. In the year 2009 he started his formation at Kanengo pre-formation house in Lilongwe, Malawi. Later he was sent to Balaka for his philosophical studies. After his studies in Philosophy in 2012, he was appointed to Kasama for his novitiate. After his novitiate in 2013, he was sent to Burkina Faso for his pastoral experience (Stage). He was later appointed to Kinshasa in DRC for theology. While in theology, he took his perpetual oath on 9/12/2018. On the same day he was ordained a deacon by Bishop Placide Lubamba (M.afr) from DRC.

The priestly ordination ceremony took place in a village called Matumba, at the Holy Angels Parish under the Diocese of Dedza. The officiating Archbishop was from the neighbouring Archdiocese (Lilongwe) as the hosting diocese is currently without a chief shepherd. On a personal note, the choice of the place of ordination was a good one because it shows the Church’s preferential option for the poor and also allowed the simple people in this village who are without a means of transport, an opportunity to witness this Holy and Sacred ceremony. If the ordination was to be done in town, many of these people would have found it difficult to witness it. The participation of the local people in the order of the mass made the celebration very colourful. There were the Angoni traditional dancers, little girls and boys, and the catholic women organisation members who throughout the mass were using their various dance styles to praise God while the Choir sings. The choir was a combined group of choir members from all of the outstations of the hosting parish, and they sang wonderfully.

The homily of the Archbishop Tarcisius Ziyaye was centered on love. He started by saying that even though Isaiah offered himself to be used for the mission of God, he wasn’t the one who made himself into God’s prophet and servant. Rather, it was God who made Isaiah into His prophet and sent him on a mission. God through His mercy and love always calls someone from among the faithfuls to serve Him as a priest in the Church.

The Archbishop went on to say that, the priesthood we receive is not a human thing, but rather the priesthood of Christ himself, and that is why the Church always affirm that a priest is another Christ. Therefore, he encouraged the candidates to be ordained and all priests present not to take their priestly ministry lightly, not to forget the holiness and honour of the sacred priesthood and to always strive to live their lives like Christ did.
He further emphasized that, the service of the sacred priesthood is to be rendered with all humility, respect for God’s people, total devotion and love. For the sacred priesthood is not a profession or a part time job, it is a lifelong service, he added. He buttressed this point by making reference to the teachings of Mother Theresa of Calcutta who when advising her sisters said “when doing your examination of conscience at night before you go to bed, do not ask yourselves, what have I done today? But rather ask yourselves, all that I did today, have I done them with love?”
He rounded up his homily by reminding everyone present that our life is a life of love, a life centered and guided by love. Because God is love and Christ Jesus died for us because he loved us. We must also not depart from love, but remain steadfastly rooted in love.

After the homily of the Archbishop, the vocation director of the diocese Fr. Emmanuel Chuma called forward the ordinands for the rite of ordination. The two ordinands answered from where they were sitting among the crowd “Ndilipo” meaning Here I am. The two ordinands then came forward gleefully, accompanied by their parents and a troupe of traditional dancers – it was a very touching moment. During the litany of the saints, the two candidates lay down in total submission to God and the choir sang the litany in a way that moves the heart, one could feel the presence of the saints. After the rite of ordination, all the priests, brothers, sisters, seminarians and family members congratulated the newly ordained, and they (the newly ordained) in turn blessed the archbishops, the priests and religious and all the faithfuls present. 

They are now priests forever according to the order of Melchizedek!!

The ceremony continued as normal till after the communion when the choir sang the Magnificat. This was another moment that stood out; there were three little girls who came out and danced beautifully to the hymn. One was dressed as Mary and the two others as angels – it was quite a sight to behold.

During the speeches, Fr. Kambuku expressed his profound gratitude to God for the gift of vocation to serve Him as a priest. He also thanked all members of the Society of the Missionaries of Africa, his parents, all friends of the Missionaries of Africa who have lived with him and all those who have helped him in various ways to reach the Altar of God.

The family members expressed their profound joy in the speech that was given. They thanked God for the honour he has bestowed on them by considering their families worthy of giving Him priests to serve in His vineyard. They also expressed their profound gratitude to all those who partook in the formation of their children, and also all those who came to witness the ceremony.

The Archbishop in His closing remark reemphasized on the focal point of his homily, that is, Love. He encouraged the newly ordained priests to serve with love and complete devotion, to be humble and to be Christ like. He also urged them to be obedient sons of the Church and to follow the teachings of the Church.

Okunola Michael Olatude
Stagiaire at St. Francis Parish, Kanengo, Malawi

Interculturality Workshop – Final Mass

The workshop on Interculturality is finished. It was an intense week with a lot of promises for the future, that the delegates will have to share with their Provincial Councils and with their confreres so that we may all become better witnesses of the Gospel of Love and Respect of each other. Francis Barnes, referent of the GC for ongoing formation, made that point very clear in his homily of the 23rd Sunday of Ordinary time, at the closing mass of the workshop.

23rd Sunday of O.T. (C) - Closing mass of the workshop on Interculturality - Rome G.C. 7th September 2019

“If anyone comes to me without hating his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.”

Wow, these are not easy words and surely in the close knit kinship of Jewish relationships, especially, the words seems almost heretical. Such words may seem over the top when so often we firmly believe that family surely must come first, allegiance to my kith and kin surely must come first; it cannot be otherwise. Allegiance to my province of origin must come first, to my country, to those of the same ethnic background surely must take priority. Whether we like it or not gospel living is not easy; it was never meant to be easy. Many times in the gospels Jesus warns the disciples about the challenges they would face – he warns them that the road of discipleship will be rugged and steep, full of twists and turns and many times we will be challenged as to where our allegiance lies. No wonder the gospel is hard to believe in, no wonder that so many of us are afraid to let go, we don’t like to lose to all that we cling to and all that we think makes up our identity, our family, our ambitions, our security, our prestige, our power or whatever. To let go is so counter cultural and like the disciples we vacillate, we waver; we are not very sure about just what to let go of; we are ambivalent, torn between our intention to do God’s will and our intention to pursue our own desires.

Yet according to the gospels, discipleship means utter dedication. It demands everything; the whole heart, the whole mind, and the whole of life – and why? Because of the kingdom and its values. Half –hearted Christianity is no Christianity; half-hearted discipleship is no discipleship; half-hearted belief in interculturality is no interculturality. It has to be worked at, it demands a lot, our time, our energy and our whole hearted commitment.

When I was in the first phase so many years ago we used to sing a song – ‘and they’ll know we are Christians by our love.’ How will people know we are missionaries of Africa? They will know because of our interculturality, they will know by our desire to walk with the lowly of this world, the downtrodden and the weak in a land and culture that is not our own but where the people we strive to serve have become our brothers and sisters, our family. They will know we are missionaries of Africa because in the intcultural communities in which we live and work we offer a glimpse of what the world could be like, without its divisions, its prejudices, its self-concern and desire for self-preservation.

And so I think Jesus is not just saying “love me more” but he is warning us that if we really live the life of discipleship, we’ll be accused of “hating” our families. If we truly live as intercultural communities we may be accused of turning our back on our own culture, on our background, or where we come from. Some will accuse us of putting at risk the interests of those for whom we have great responsibility, they might accuse us of not loving our country, our families or those with whom culturally we should be in solidarity with. That’s where discipleship really begins to cost us.

The fact is that real love always involves risks. Real interculturality always involves risk. Real intercultural community living always invloves going beyond our comfort zones. Surely as missionaries of Africa we are the ones able to show the way even though some might believe that such communities are founded on risky, socially controversial foundations where conflict and clashes of interest will be inevitable. But then the call of discipleship, the call to truly be true witnesses of a different way of being in the world surely is worth whatever discomfort and teething problems that may arise.

What is true is that Jesus does not want us to hate our close family members, our nation – we are not called even to hate our life; we are called to love and to love means that we must be ready to sacrifice things and to let go of certain situations or even relationships if they prevent us from really loving. Jesus is telling us that in him we are one family – we are all kith and kin; we are all brothers and sisters, and we must help one another in our endeavour to live out the gospel in an ever more powerful way. This is surely true of ourselves who desire so much to live in Intercultural communities. Jesus has gone that way before us, and as we gather around this Eucharist table we are reminded that his body and blood were poured out so that we might be one. His life and death remind us that on the other side of the deep waters of disrepute, of prejudice, of self-concern lies a new way of being brothers, a new way of witnessing in the world: let us then at the end of this beautiful session on interculturality recommit ourselves to the goals and aspirations we cherish so that our community living be a powerful witness that may in its own small way bring healing and wholeness to a divided and wounded world.

Francis Barnes

New Assistant Treasurer General

The Superior General has appointed Father Marcin Zagula the new Assistant Treasurer General, effective from the 1st July 2019, thus replacing Father Denis Laflamme who was appointed to the Community of Jerusalem.

Since he was ordained in July 2010 in Poland, Father Marcin has been working in Burkina Faso and in Poland.

Happy feast to the MSOLA

Bonne fête à nos sœurs

Although they have been celebrating the 150th anniversary of their foundation with the Missionaries of Africa since last December 8, the White Sisters intensified their celebration yesterday, the 8th of September, considered to be “THE” anniversary of their foundation. We therefore wish them a very happy anniversary celebration.

In memoriam Rev. Jan Lenssen

In memoriam P. Jan Lenssen

The Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity has given, on their website, the following testimony of our confrere Jan Lenssen, who passed away a few weeks ago. Jan has indeed spent a lot of energy on Ecumenism. 

“It is with sadness that the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity has learned of the death of Reverend Father Jan Lessen, M.Afr., who for many years represented the Council at the Commission on World Mission and Evangelism of the World Council of Churches. Throughout his fruitful missionary ministry, Father Lenssen was an untiring worker in the field of Christian unity.

Cardinal Kurt Koch, President of the Dicastery, sent a letter of condolences to Reverend Father Stanley Lubungo, Superior General of the Missionaries of Africa.”

A testimony of Apostolic Life

Testimony of Apostolic Life in Algeria

As part of the Jubilee Year, the Roman Committee organised, more or less monthly, conferences on relevant themes. Our confrere Claude Rault, Bishop Emeritus of Ghardaia, came to Rome for a few days and gave us his life testimony during a talk at the Generalate. About twenty participants were present, including the General Council.

Jean-Guy Richard, 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

Jean-Guy Richard

on Tuesday the 3rd of September 2019 at Sherbrooke (Canada)
at the age of 86 years, of which 58 years of missionary life
in Zambia, Malawi and Canada.

Let us pray for him and for his loved ones.

(more…)

Workshop in Rome on Interculturality

Workshop on Interculturality

The workshop on the theme “Living in an intercultural community as an apostolic witness today” will take place at the Generalate from 1 to 8 September 2019. Confreres from all provinces and sections participate in order to become resource persons available to their respective province.

Why this training workshop? We want to follow up on the 28th General Chapter which ‘’invites us to fully commit ourselves to building communities which are truly intercultural’’.

Andreas Göpfert