After my annual retreat in Goma, I had the opportunity to visit Maniema as part of my local leave to enjoy and to visit the confreres who are appointed in their mission and to get in touch with their missionary reality. It was an interesting but challenging missionary adventure. My first stop was Tokolote in Kindu. I spent four days there. During my stay in Kindu, I had the opportunity to pray with the Christian community of Tokolote during the morning masses and the Sunday Mass. The morning Mass included thirty people. I would estimate attendance at Sunday Mass at about 500 people. I also had the joy of concelebrating at the priestly ordination Mass of two sons of the Diocese of Kindu; an occasion that brought together the presbyterium who shared a meal after a Thanksgiving Mass presided over by the new priests the day after their ordination. The priests present (almost all, they told me) were fewer than fifty. My second stop was Mingana. From Kindu to Mingana (180 km), we took more than seven hours on a motorcycle with the stagiaire Isac who was driving me. We drove on a road rather poorly maintained, almost impassable, sometimes due to the mud and the stagnant rainwater. I spent three days in Mingana and took a whole day to recover a little from the fatigue. Mingana is a village where there was no telephone network when we arrived. In order to be able to call, one had to travel about ten kilometers to Kunda (Vodacom runs there from the morning to around 18 hours). Nature is pleasant and full of potential for agriculture and gardening in Maniema. Surprisingly, the only common foods are the “ugali” made from cassava flour and rice. In Mingana, I had the joy of presiding at two morning Masses and participating in the Way of the Cross with a hundred Christians (children and adults). My stay in Mingana allowed me to visit the activities in the parish (health center and schools) accompanied by Isac. On the one hand, I note that there is always a great need for evangelization and missionary activities, but on the other hand, I was surprised to hear that the parish had already celebrated 75 years of existence. My last stop was Kipaka 65 km from Mingana. I stayed there for two days. I had the opportunity to preside at the two masses of the first Sunday of Lent. The first mass had a participation of about two hundred people (note that it had rained in the morning and mass began before the end of the rain, and I was told that when it rains, many Christians do not come to the church. mass); the second mass was for the children. (…)
The Maniema region needs a lot of missionary support. There are parishes of very large size in rural areas and there are too few pastoral agents (priests and religious). (…)
I thank the Province of Central Africa and the confreres of the Maniema sector who helped and facilitated my visit to Maniema. Shukrani! Mungu awabariki wote!
Taken from INFO-PAC nr 75 of March 2018