The Province of the Americas is not dying! (PE nr. 1078)

The Post Capitular of the
Province of the Americas

The Province of the Americas numbers 128 Missionaries of Africa spread out over four sectors: 100 in Canada, 17 in the U.S.A, 6 in Mexico and 5 in Brazil. 33 other members from the AMS are present in Africa, Europe and Asia. This brings the total number of Missionaries of Africa appointed to or coming from the Province to 161 of whom 14 are Brothers.

In Canada, we have three houses in Québec Province. One is located at Sherbrooke (Lennoxville in former times). 38 confreres live there and their average age is 86.1 years. Two ladies look after the Administration. One is the bursar and the other manages the nursing care. Three confreres form the leadership team. In the house there are also three teams of confreres who assure the good running of the community; a health team visits sick confreres and brings others to appointments with doctors, dentists and ophthalmologists. Another team is involved in ministry outside the house, mainly with sisters and there is a team, which looks after the reception desk, the library, reading room etc. Normally, Jean-Marie Tardif gives a Bible course on Monday afternoon, on Tuesday afternoon there is a film show and on Friday afternoon, there is a TV religious programme coming from the French KTO chain.

Our house in Québec has 18 confreres in residence. Their average age is 83 years. Those who can, help in three Nursing Homes, in four religious communities and from time to time, they minister in two parishes, at the reception area, confessions, and meetings with young people. Some confreres still live in Chicoutimi.

The house in Montreal is our Provincial House. 19 confreres live there. Here we find the offices of the Provincial, Provincial Secretary and the Provincial Treasurer and the offices for the three lay people who help the PT. There is also the Communications Office and the Archives. Our apostolic commitments are limited to preaching about the missions in parishes, attending diocesan meetings, and that of the missionary committee. Some confreres still do some ministry but only on a personal basis. Since the 29th September last year, a big innovation is that four Sisters of the Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Africa have joined us.

The Montreal house also plays host to the Centre Afrika where two confreres are involved. We are awaiting the arrival of a third confrere to be its Director. This Centre and its activities are very much appreciated in the City of Montreal. It assists Africans to integrate into the social realities of Montreal life. The Centre has developed a reception and orientation service for those coming to its offices and helps them find their feet by giving advice on such things as how to register for language courses, etc.

Three confreres live in our house in Toronto. They try to make the missions known by their different commitments in parishes and in movements of Catholic Action. Some confreres live in Winnipeg and Bishop Albert Thevenot is serving in the Diocese of Prince Albert in Saskatchewan.

In the USA, our house in Washington, D.C. houses the Provincial Delegate and the Treasurer Delegate as well as the Development Office and the AFJN Office, which trains people in the areas of Justice and Peace for the defence of Africa. The house located in St. Petersburg, Florida looks after elderly confreres. In Mexico, our confreres live either in Querétaro or Guadalajara where our First Phase Formation house in situated. We have two communities at Salvador Da Bahia in Brazil. There is a community at Casa Nossa Senhora da África where the Provincial Delegate and Treasurer reside along with a confrere promoting missionary vocations and a stagiaire. There is also a community ministering in the Parish of Santa Monica.

We held our Post-Capitular Assembly in Montreal from the 14th to the 18th November 2016. 18 confreres took part. The Assembly made five recommendations for the Provincial Council to study. The first concerned the elderly confreres; there is a great desire to keep our family spirit but we notice that confreres very often die alone in different centres outside of their community. We need to find places where our confreres will be able to live together right up to the end of their lives.

Another proposition concerned social media. A request was made to organise sessions on social media so that all the confreres could be initiated, as far as that is possible, into the rudiments of this new modern language so that they might be able to understand its importance for evangelisation and promoting the missions and missionary vocations.

The Provincial Council was also asked to invite the communities to suggest and discuss ways of deepening and improving the life of community prayer. Like the French Sector, we also see the necessity of new foundations in view of promoting the missions and missionary vocations by opening White Father parishes. We asked the Provincial Council to invite each Sector to carry out a feasibility study taking into account our integration into the pastoral work of the local church.

In all this, we can say that the Province of the Americas is not dying, but at the same time, it needs personnel to achieve its objectives. It counts on the Society to help it live!

Jacques Poirier, M.Afr.
(Petit Echo n° 1078)

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