News from Théo Caerts in Togo

Hello ! This time, I’m pretty late with my New Year’s greetings: Christmas and New Year are long gone. What happened ? We had several major cuts in the Internet connection lately, and in the Christmas-New Year period, our Company Togo Telecom had the “good idea” to work on their network, resulting in cuts for weeks! In addition, I was myself busy preparing for a retreat, scheduled for the end of January in our training house in Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso). So, with great delay, but no less sincerely, I send you all my best wishes and those of our entire community to each and every one of you and to your families and communities: wishes for health, happiness, joy, success in all your activities, and the blessing of God on you all! Thank you to all those who have done so much better than me and whose Christmas and Happy New Year wishes arrived well in time! Thank you for your fidelity !

This year 2018 will be marked by my definitive return to Belgium. Indeed,
I will be 75 years old this year and my missionary commitment counts also 50 years: in dialogue with my superiors, I felt that it was a good time to leave Togo and Africa and to put myself at the service of the Sector of Belgium, which was quick to appoint me in the community of the Antwerp Procure . All this will not happen without a small pinch of heart, of course, but, it’s life: there is a beginning and an end to everything!
And how is Togo? And our projects in Talo? Well, Togo is not going very well, I’m afraid. There have been a lot of demonstrations, strikes, and violence lately to bring about political change. Fortunately, here in Atakpamé and Talo, we were not affected by these events. As for our projects, we are in the process of realizing the biggest, the most important and the most difficult: we are building a Multipurpose Center, which will also serve as a parish church on Sundays and on other occasions. You will find above some pictures of the completed projects (our house and school), and the Multpurpose Center yet under construction. You will notice that it is already well advanced, but far from finished. If some people of good will can help us finish the whole thing, they will be very welcome! Recently, with the help of the “Development Office” of the Missionaries of Africa in Washington (USA), who had already helped us also for the construction of the school, we drilled a 75 meters deep well, intended for the population, helping especially the women in the arduous and daily search for water.

Everything has been achieved since our arrival here in May 2012 (the construction works started on July 1, 2013), and this was only possible thanks to the generous help of many of you. To name benefactors is always delicate, but, all the same I would like to thank especially some people, who prefer to remain anonymous, and who have given significant sums for all our projects – the Province of Limburg and the Sector of Germany – who have helped a lot in the construction of a six-class primary school, with washroom, director’s office, meeting room, and two nursery classes – some Christians from Canada and confreres, who have made a very important contribution to the building of the church, as well as the Sisters of Mercy of Renais and the Sisters of Mary from Deberiot Street in Leuven – and, for the most part, the many Missionaries of Africa confreres, especially in Belgium, but also from all over, who really supported, in a marvelous way, the birth of this new establishment of the Missionaries of Africa in Togo. May everyone here be warmly thanked! Thank you so much !

But, as we have always said, we did not come here to build buildings only, however necessary they may be, but to build a Christian community. And of this work more discreet and interior, there are no photos! Some important efforts of Pastoral work have just been done a few weeks ago with the selection of new members of the Parish Pastoral Council, who are our closest collaborators, and who bear, with us, an important responsibility for parish work. Every month for a weekend, we bring together some twenty young people, most of whom are already in university, and who are interested in the missionary vocation. Together with a few Christians, we have just launched a three month introductory course on the Social Doctrine of the Church, which every Tuesday, from 18h to 20h, brings together more or less 25 people from the whole city of Atakpamé. Two young Togolese Missionaries of Africa have been ordained Priests and will soon leave for Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo. In Talo, in our Parish, to which we have given the name of Our Lady of Africa (OLA), we have a young and dynamic Christian community, which needs to be further trained and accompanied, and who, in turn must become missionary. This is our job, and we strive to respond as best as possible!

Those are some news from here that I wanted to share with you, together with my best wishes and those of the Missionaries of Africa Community. May God our Father bless this year to make it truly good and happy for each and every one of you, and give us the opportunity to meet in this new year!

With all my best wishes for peace, joy and happiness for this new year 2018!

Talo, 11th January 2018

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