The XAVERI movement is a movement of Catholic action. It was founded in Bukavu in the DRC on 7 September 1952 by Father Georges DEFOUR, Missionary of Africa. In fact, he was wondering on how to proclaim the Gospel to the African people, respecting and valuing their culture. We can see that it had a purely pastoral purpose. With his experience in Scouting and his missionary formation, Father Georges DEFOUR will gather a small group of young people (about forty in total) around him. The goal of this group was to live the Gospel on a daily basis: Being a Congolese and at the same time being a Christian.
Why are they called XAVERI? Because they chose St. Francis Xavier as their Patron Saint. After a Eucharistic celebration on the feast of St. Francis Xavier, a Jesuit missionary who went to India to evangelize, the small group asked Father George if they could choose St. Francis Xavier as their Patron Saint. They were touched by his courage, his faith, his missionary zeal and his charity. “Always more” as St. Ignatius of Loyola says in the spiritual exercises.
The movement quickly spread. It left the city of Bukavu to reach the other dioceses of the Congo, the other countries like Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia, South Africa … They were merely a dozen at the beginning of the movement in 1952; today, in 2017, they are more than 500,000 members across 9 African countries.
The XAVERIS are divided into two branches: masculine and feminine. And each branch is subdivided according to the ages:
- From 9 to 12 years: the “Joyful”
- From 13 to 16 years: the “Zealots”
- From 17 years onwards: the “Torch bearers”
- Adults and married persons: the Union of Adult Xaveris (UXA)
Each age group has its own curriculum and training manuals. The Father Founder of the movement always aimed for excellence in formation. Thus, a Xaveri must strive for quality and excellence in all that he undertakes: “quality must not be sacrificed in favor of quantity,” says the Founder in his writings. And it is always the same Ignatian principle “Always more” which is well expressed by the motto of the Xaveri Movement: “Charity, Always and Everywhere”.
As with any Catholic movement, a XAVERI is first engaged in its basic Christian community, where he is very active and participates in all the activities. Then, he is visible and commited within his parish, his diocese, his ecclesiastical province and up to the international level.
The movement is a secular movement and it is led by the laity. Priests and religious are chaplains. The Missionaries of Africa assume the paternity of this movement and they put at its disposal an international chaplain who is a Missionary of Africa.