Missionary of Africa for Solidarity with South Sudan

Jim (James) Greene is a Missionary of Africa born in Ireland on the 27th July 1960. Ordained to the priesthood on the 2nd July 1988 after completing his theological formation in Totteridge, he started his missionary life in Malawi until mid-1997 when he became the Treasurer of the Province of Ireland (today one of the sectors of the European province). In 2002, he returns to Malawi, with a strong interest for Justice & Peace. Delegate to the Chapter of 2004, he is elected Assistant to the Superior General. After a sabbatical in Chigaco, he is appointed to Jerusalem as treasurer in 2011. Since January 2019, he is the executive director of the project “Solidarity South Sudan”.

A word from Jim

I arrived in Juba, South Sudan on the 26th January to join a team of about 30 religious, male and female who are working with the project called ‘Solidarity with South Sudan’. This is an initiative of the USG/UISG (male and female religious congregations) which started after an appeal for assistance by the bishops of South Sudan. 

Seeing the enormity of the challenges in what was then Southern Sudan, over 200 congregations decided to pool their resources together, both financial and personnel. Many congregations do not have personnel to offer to this initiative but presently about 18 congregations are represented on the ground in South Sudan, while many more contribute in other ways.

From an early stage it was recognized that ‘Solidarity with South Sudan’ could not respond to every need. With this in mind, it was decided that the emphasis would be put on training others in the areas of education, health care, pastoral services and agriculture. 

The project established teacher training centres for primary school teachers in Yambio in Western Equatoria and in Malakal in Upper Nile State. Unfortunately, due the hostilities and attacks the centre in Malakal is currently abandoned. 

The Comboni Sisters helped us establish a nursing and midwifery training centre in Wau, situated in the former state of Western Bahr el Ghazal. Coincidently, some of the present buildings were originally constructed by our deceased confrere, Hurbert Barbier in the late 1970s. For many years these buildings were occupied by internally displaced persons before being handed back to the church to start the nurses training project in 2008. 

In addition, a pastoral team was set up and trained many priests, catechists and other pastoral workers from many dioceses in the country. Given the violent history of the country, an emphasis was also put on trauma healing and trying to address some of the effects of past and present conflicts. Currently this team is in need of more members.

Solidarity seeks to witness not only through its actions but also by living in international religious communities of men and women. In a country sadly divided on the basis of ethnicity, we try to show that it is possible for women and men from different nationalities and ethnicities, to live and work together, while respecting each other’s dignity and difference.

Presently, I am the only Missionary of Africa in the country. Who knows what the future will bring? The harvest is indeed great!

Interview of Jim by Radio Vatican on 16th April 2019

Linda Bordoni of Vatican Radio interviews Father Jim Greene, Missionary of Africa, newly appointed executive director of Solidarity South Sudan. The original interview is here :  https://www.vaticannews.va/en/church/news/2019-04/solidarity-south-sudan-pope-retreat-father-greene.html

Video produced by Solidarity South Sudan last November

Testimony of Jim to the confreres in Rome

Being the only Missionary of africa in South Sudan and having to attend meetings every now and then in Rome with the board of Solidarity South Sudan, Jim is attached to the Generalate, rather than to the Easr Africa Province which, traditionally, was hosting Sudan. As he was in Rome last April, he gave his testimony to some confreres. The video he is referring to at the beginning is the one above and the power point he is referring to follows. By default, the slides moves forward every 15 seconds, but you can force them forward or backward as you are listening to Jim. Towards the end of the testimony, Jim is answering questions… which are unfortunately not audible, as the confreres did not bother waiting for the microphone. But if you are interested in the testimony, you will be able to guess what the questions were about.

Petit Echo nr. 1100 – 2019/04

The latest Petit Echo of April 2019 has been out for about 10 days and should be on its way to your communities, if it has not arrived yet. In any case, you have the possibility to read it live from your screen. You will find the link on the Download Page.

Please, mind the planet and especially the trees! They are the lungs of Mother Earth! 

Before printing the PDF of the Petit echo, consider learning to read from your screen. 

Election is over – SACBC statement

After the election taking place in South Africa over the weekend, the South African Catholic Bishops Conference has issued the following statement :

ELECTION IS OVER - LET THE BUILDING OF THE ECONOMY AND THE TACKLING OF CORRUPTION COMMENCE

We congratulate the Independent Electoral Commission and all political parties for creating a conducive environment for free and fair election. While some parties have recorded discontent about certain incidences during the election, these do not appear to have significantly impacted on the integrity of the election. Nevertheless, we appeal to the Independent Electoral Commission to take effective measures and address all the problems in the voting system before the next municipal election, including the threat of multiple voting, shortage of voting papers and staff inefficiencies.

One of the key messages that the citizens of South Africa have delivered through the 2019 election is that the current social contract, which is based on the Constitutional negotiations in the early 1990s, needs both renewal and repair. The citizens should not be taken for granted. The dwindling in the voter turn-out as well as the incidents of protests during the election are a stern warning to all the political parties that, twenty five years into Constitutional Democracy, there is a need to renegotiate the social contract between the ruling elite and those living in the margins of the economy.

In the previous 25 years, the Constitutional Democracy and its embedded social contract have failed to create tangible dividends, especially to the poor, in terms of acceptable levels of access to quality education, quality health care, job opportunities, and decent housing. In the next five years, the mending of the social contract will therefore depend on the extent to which the ruling party, working with the oversight functions of the 6th Parliament, have managed to rebuild the economy while tackling the triple challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality.

We therefore expect all the political parties in the 6th Parliament, and not just the ruling party, to put the country first and work collectively to develop effective measures to arrest the collapse of the economy and the looting of the state resources, and to spur economic growth so that it creates jobs. In particular, we call on the ruling party to develop a national strategic plan, with measurable targets that can be subject to accountability, to address youth unemployment, which is a ticking time bomb and has at some level contributed the disenchantment and voter apathy among the youth.

An issue of grave concern to many citizens in our country, which also poses a serious threat to our young democracy, is that of high levels of corruption. Now that the election is over, we expect the President of our nation to dispense with the politics of expediency and show firm hand in dealing with those implicated in corruption and state capture. In particular, we expect the President of the country:

  • To ensure that those suspected of corruption and state capture are not appointed into the cabinet and the Parliament.
  • To ensure that the country’s bloated cabinet is reduced by half.
  • To introduce new measures to strengthen the investigative and prosecutorial arm of the criminal justice and its ability to operate without political interference and prosecute those involved in corruption and state capture
  • To reverse the collapse of good governance and widespread looting at state owned entities (SOEs), like Eskom, SAA and others.
  • To introduce more effective measures to protect the integrity of the Public Investment Corporation (PIC).
  • To introduce stronger measures to address irregular, fruitless and wasteful expenditure in the government departments and municipalities.

Bishop S. Sipuka – SACBC President

For more information kindly contact Archbishop W. Slattery (SACBC Spokesperson): +27 83 468 5473

END OF THE STATEMENT

20190513 slipped on twitter

Oath and Diaconate in Merrivale

It is in Saint Joseph’s Parish, in Howick, that 5 students of Merrivale became Missionaries of Africa by pronouncing their solemn missionary oath in the presence of Fr. Francis Barnes, first assistant of the superior general.

They are from left to right:

  • Bimal Lakra, from India
  • Habtamu Aloto, from Ethiopia
  • Guélord Mahongole, from DR Congo
  • Alain Sossou, from Ivory Coast
  • Joseph Zunguluka, from DR Congo

On the same day, they were ordained deacons from the hands of our confrere Jan De Groef, bishop of Bethlehem (South Africa).

Following the photos, you will find the text of the homily pronounced by Francis Barnes on that occasion.

I would like to address these few words to you Bimal, Guelord, Joseph, Habtamu and Alain. Through the oath you have taken today you have consecrated yourselves until death to the Church’s mission in Africa and you have promised fidelity and obedience to the apostolic life as well as swearing to observe celibacy for the sake of the kingdom.

Wow! That is quite something and in today’s world you would have to either be out of your mind or be truly of a sound and discerned mind to add your signature to such a document. I presume that you are all truly of sound mind. The oath we take does not mention poverty or simple lifestyle as we call it – for it is supposed to be part of our specific identity. We are not religious and so we don’t take vows and yet the oath is surely just as binding. I would dare to say that in today’s world such an oath is more than controversial even counter-cultural. Celibacy in today’s world where everything is hypersexualised is surely counter cultural and so often can become for many a source of great tension and stress or, worse still scandal. What about obedience then in a hedonistic world where we want to celebrate the freedom to do, to say and be whatever we want? And fidelity? Yes, it takes courage and hard work to be faithful to the promises we make and we know just how easy it is to stray from the path we have desired and chosen. Then there is simple lifestyle though not mentioned in the oath we take it as expected of us. Yet so many of us will be tempted along the way by the lure of money and be caught up in our desire for more comfort and ease in our ministry. Yes, the oath is definitely counter cultural but then so is discipleship as it always has been.

Are we worthy of such a calling, are we capable of such a calling? – most likely not and yet despite our own frailty and powerlessness, the love of God is able to break forth into our lives with its transforming power. Hopefully, today you are the ones who choose not to walk the path of power but the path of powerlessness, who choose not the road of success but the road of servanthood. With the grace of God, you will choose willingly not to walk the wide road of praise and popularity but the narrow one of giving oneself so that others might have life in abundance. Know that it will mean often accepting to walk into darkness, to take risks, to walk into the unknown and to accept all the suffering that such a choice entails.

Yes, you and I, today’s disciples know we are fragile human beings; we don’t have all the answers and yet hopefully we allow ourselves to become instruments in the hand of God; hopefully like children we will have a spirit of sheer receptivity, utter dependence and a radical reliance that does not come from ourselves but from the spirit of Jesus.

Therefore, deep down we know that:

  • if we were to live in imitation of Jesus
  • if we dared move beyond our self-concern
  • if we truly desire to reach out in compassion to all our brothers and sisters no matter whom they are  
  • if we were so counter cultural that we no longer thirsted for status, power or possessions

then we would indeed transform this little Society of ours and even the world and the parish communities where we serve.

The world doesn’t need more dogmas and creeds– the world needs maybe just a handful of brave disciples who would be as salt and light- who by the authenticity of their commitment and generosity would be a spectacular sign of the transforming power of the gospel, the transforming power of love.

Fidelity in the final analysis is all about walking the road we have chosen with the Lord, it is our life poured out so that others might have life and it is about struggling if we have to until the very end.

So with you I praise the Lord for this wonderful missionary vocation that is yours. I praise the Lord for the beautiful gift of yourselves to our Society and to Africa. And we praise the Lord for your families and friends who have and are very much part of this wonderful calling that is yours.

Francis Barnes M.Afr.

Sister Adoración ZANÓN MIRANZO (Maria de la Luz), R.I.P.

The Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Africa invite you
to share their hope and pray for

Sister Adoración ZANÓN MIRANZO (Maria de la Luz)

of the Residence El Sol community, Logroño
entered life in Logroño on April 25, 2019
at the age of 92, including 63 years of missionary religious life.

Her missionary life took place in Algeria and Spain.

Sister Jeannine Garitte, R.I.P.

The Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Africa
invite you to share their hope and pray for

Sister Jeannine GARITTE

of the Evere Campus Eureka community,
who entered life in Brussels on May 7, 2019
at the age of 85,
of which 58 years of missionary religious life.

Her missionary life took place in Burkina Faso and Belgium.

Joris Vankrunkelsven, R.I.P.

Father Luc Putzeys, Provincial Delegate of the sector of Belgium,
informs you of the return to the Lord of Father

Joris Vankrunkelsven

on Wednesday 8th May 2019 at St. Augustin Clinic Antwerpen (Belgium)
at the age of 91 years, of which 67 years of missionary life
in Congo and Belgium.

Let us pray for him and for his loved ones.

Download here the announcement of Fr. Joris Vankrunkelsven’s death Continue reading “Joris Vankrunkelsven, R.I.P.”

Roman celebrations 150° anniversary – SYMPOSIUM

Like all the provinces of the Society, Rome celebrated its main event at the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the foundation of the Lavigerie Family, namely the White Fathers, Missionaries of Africa, founded in 1868, and the White Sisters, Missionaries of Our Lady of Africa in 1869.

The Symposium had long been planned to be in line with the International Conference of Major Superiors (UISG) in order to encourage the participation of the Superiors General of the 21 African women’s congregations often founded by a White Father confrere (bishop) but especially “accompanied” by the White Sisters.

The success of this symposium would not have been as spectacular without their extremely energizing presence; if the preparation of the 150th anniversary celebrations of our foundations brought our two congregations/society closer together, this symposium confirmed their complementarity, already present in the vision of evangelization of sub-Saharan Africa of our founder Cardinal Charles Martial Lavigerie: Africa will not be evangelized without the presence of women apostles who will accompany African women and families to know, love and follow Jesus.

The main purpose of this symposium was to raise the visibility of the Lavigerie family in the maze of congregations present in Rome. The invited audience was essentially composed of men and women religious present in Rome, who regularly rub shoulders with us, without necessarily knowing us in our specific charism. The theme was: “The significance of 150 years of Mission in Africa for the Universal Mission of the Church”. While the date chosen favoured the participation of African women’s congregations, it was less favourable to the presence of many members of general councils visiting their congregations at this time of the year. The 210-seat auditorium at Urbaniana University, which we had rented for the occasion, was nevertheless almost full.

The conference began with the intervention of the two main speakers. Our confrere, Archbishop Michael Fitzgerald, spoke non-exhaustively about the “Contribution of our two institutes to the missionary work of the Universal Church”, noting in his conclusion that, from the very beginning of our foundations, the encounter – initially with Islam, then with all Africans and all religious realities – has always been essential in our charism, as well as the struggle for Justice and Peace for and with the people in whose service we work. You will find the link to the text of his speech at the bottom of this page.

Sister Carmen Sammut, Superior General of the White Sisters, presented the essential characteristics that make the White Sisters Missionaries especially to women and for Africa, initiators who will allow the Africans themselves to continue the work of evangelization in Africa. She then drew the portrait of 7 women, missionaries of Our Lady of Africa, all models of women missionaries in the service of the universal Church. The link to the text of his speech is at the bottom of the page.

 

After a 30-minute break, three speakers took part in a roundtable discussion with public interaction after the presentations. Through the account of some recent encounters with very simple people in his diocese, Bishop Richard Baawobr, M.Afr., spoke of the urgency of sharing the person, the lifestyle and the message of Jesus in the human encounter. It is in the Word of God, shared within human-sized Christian communities, that our efforts to evangelize are rooted. The link to the text of Bishop Richard’s speech is available at the bottom of this page.

In a very theological intervention, Don Antoine de Padou Pooda, a priest from the diocese of Gadoua, Burkina Faso, teaching missiology at the Urbaniana and declaring himself heir to the White Fathers, then spoke to us about the heritage and spiritual fruitfulness of the “Lavigerie Family” in Africa.  The link to the text of Don Antoine de Padou’s speech is available at the bottom of this page.

Sister Lea Belemsaga, Superior General of the Sisters of the Annunciation of Bobo Dioulasso, concluded the Round Table presentations by presenting a Power Point on three of the 21 congregations founded and/or accompanied by the Lavigerie Family. Sister Lea’s Power Point can be downloaded here and the link to the Power Point text (in 3 languages) is available at the bottom of this page.

The Symposium participants then gathered to share, in a spirit of conviviality, the evening meal around an excellent buffet before returning to the audience for the last part of the Symposium, a concert given by a Togolese artist who came with his family from Milan, in northern Italy. At the bottom of this page, you can enjoy a compilation of this concert.

The Symposium was moderated with great talent by our Confrere, Diego Sarriò, who summed up the event by quoting Don Antoine de Padou Pooda: “The Lavigerie family, by its international and intercultural character, extends Pentecost as a cenacle where the Kingdom of justice and peace is already in action.” Father Stan Lubungo, Superior General of the White Fathers, closed the Symposium shortly after 8:30 pm.

Philippe Docq, M.Afr.