Southern Africa Province (SAP) stagiaires’ meeting in Lusaka

‘No pain no gain’, ‘no sacrifice no opportunity’ and ‘no discipline no results’

On the 26th February 2024, the Stagiaires of the Southern Africa Province (SAP) convened at FENZA (Faith and Encounter Centre Zambia) in Lusaka, Zambia for a one-week meeting. It was a gathering of sharing stage experiences in their different communities and apostolates. During the opening Mass, the main celebrant invited the Stagiaires to reflect on their role in the apostolate. He insisted that his principle of no pain no gain, no sacrifice no opportunity, no discipline no results, has guided him throughout his years as a missionary. Fr. Martin Onyango energized the Stagiaires with his touching sermon.

Eight stagiaires were from the Malawi Sector, three from the Mozambique Sector and twelve from the Zambia Sector. The sharing, guided by Fr. Martin Onyango M.Afr. and Fr. Marcellin Mubalama M.Afr., was enriching. The meeting began with welcoming remarks from Fr. Benjamin Itungabose M.Afr., the Sector Delegate of Zambia. He encouraged the Stagiaires to be creative and innovative to meet the demands of the apostolate.  Groups according to sectors were formed for sharing. Later, the entire group met to listen to a report from each group.

The Stagiaires shared the common joy of apostolic zeal. They all witnessed to have received a warm welcome from the people in their places of apostolate. “The Christians are so good; they are supportive and encouraging. Despite the language challenges, they understand and welcome us with joy”, they remarked. Many of the Stagiaires reported how they ride hundreds of kilometers to reach various outstations crossing rivers, forests, valleys and hills. This has added to their zeal towards becoming Missionaries of Africa.

However, there was a general complaint about conflicts in their host communities. Stagiaires continue to be victims of unstable communities with conflicts, which are having a bad impact on them. “We notice conflicts brought about by the fact that confreres come from different countries with their own stereotypes and prejudices”, they said. “Therefore, all should be aware of this and steps should be taken to combat such ‘viruses’ eating up our communities”, they added.

Your vocation must be rooted in Jesus Christ, the one we serve

The Provincial of SAP shared with the Stagiaires about the current financial situation of the Society of the Missionaries of Africa. He commended the efforts they make in their various communities to contribute towards the running of their communities and cutting down costs. He agreed with sadness that in almost all the Provinces of the Society, there have been some scandals involving money. The Provincial and Sector leaders are setting up ways to end these problems. The Provincial concluded with words of hope. “We are setting up different projects in order to ensure self-sustainability of our Province. We currently have assets amounting to lots of money that has been invested, but we have less cash. We do all we can to ensure transparency and accountability of what we own as a Province”. He advised the Stagiaires that their determination to pursue their vocation must not depend on the financial situation of the Society, but rather be rooted in Jesus Christ, the one they serve.

The Stagiaires had an outing and visited the new provincial house in IBEX. On the closing day there was an open forum, which included the suggestions Stagiaires themselves raised to improve the apostolic experience period. For example, they proposed that the members of the receiving communities should consider a self-introduction once the Stagiaire has been welcomed. They also requested the leaders of the Province and Sectors to write letters of appointment and clarify the communication channels with the Stagiaires while still in the spiritual year.

They ended this meeting by extending thanks to the Provincial for allowing the meeting to take place. “Despite all the financial challenges the Society is facing, you extended your solidarity an extra mile and allowed us to meet. A meeting like this kills multiple birds with one stone. It strengthens our bonds, ensures that we learn from one another and adds morale to our vocation as missionaries”, their representative said. He added, “we thank you endlessly and wish you all God’s Blessings.”

By: Justus Wednesday, Stagiaire

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