Youth Ministry in St. Lawrence Parish – Lusaka “Walking and Working Together”


By Patrick Sebyera, M.Afr

Patrick SebyeraIntroduction

St Lawrence is a relatively young parish that used to be an outstation of the Good Shepherd parish (Kabwata). It became an independent parish in 2011. It has twenty Small Christian Communities which are divided into five areas. The largest part of our parish is Misisi compound, I would say 80%. Misisi compound “is a shanty town, which is located in Lusaka, Zambia. Misisi has been identified as one of the five worst slums in Sub Saharan Africa. Due to a lack of resources there has been poor record keeping, but according to best estimates, there are between 80 and 90,000 people living in the area”. Of the twenty Small Christian Communities, 16 of them are in Misisi compound and four others are in Kamwala South. Therefore, the majority of our parishioners, our young people, come from poor families and this also has an impact on the youth ministry in our parish. Nevertheless, St. Lawrence youth ministry is seemingly strong, though more needs to be done. In this article I will present some of the activities and challenges that confront us and I will sum up with a short conclusion.

Activities

In St. Lawrence’s Parish, the youth ministry is composed of four branches, namely the Holy Childhood (5 to 12 years), the teenagers (13 to 18 years), the senior youths (19 to 25 years) and the young adults (26 to 35 years). Here in Zambia, youth is defined as all those who are under the age of 35 years. These four different branches are spread in different groups: such as the Stella, Holy Childhood, the Altar Boys, the TOM (Teens On the Move), the Xaveri, the Vocation group, the Junior Franciscans, the Junior Actio, the Junior Pioneers and, the Junior Legion of Mary. Apart from these different groups, there are different choirs mainly composed of young people.

PatrickThe young people make their own programmes following the guidelines of our diocese. They are very active in social programmes but less active when it comes to spiritual programmes. On Wednesdays we have started a Mass in the evening at 17:00 in order in try and help our young people embrace and grow in their spiritual life. Social activities such as outings, tours, youth camps, fundraising ventures, workshops, pilgrimages, retreats and recollections are organised at different periods of the year in order to bring our young people together. The retreats and recollections are mainly organised by the different groups themselves.

Every year, there are sports activities organised at deanery level and our young people participate, but they don’t score high because of lack of commitment and regular raining in those sports.

In union and communion with their fellow young people around the world, they celebrate the Youth Day. On this day different activities take place. This year, they had Mass and after Mass different singing and sports activities took place. It was also an occasion to fundraise by selling tickets and food in order to get some funds for their future plans. On this day, 12th March 2019, I celebrated my first Youth Day Mass.

I am still new here but I am slowly getting to know the parish and getting involved in its different activities, of which the youth apostolate is one, so that I can also bring my contribution and help them to improve in some areas. I expected a big number of young people to turn up for Mass but the number was rather small. To my surprise in the afternoon the numbers grew considerably.

Patrick 2In my homily, I focused on the readings taken from Gen 1: 26-31; 2 Thes 3: 2-16 and Mt 25: 14-30. I emphasised the fact that we are all created in God’s image and likeness. This has an impact on our life and on our behaviour regarding God, and on our brothers and sisters as well as all of creation. God created man and woman. He blessed them with responsibilities, five of them: be fertile, multiply, fill the earth, subdue it and have dominion over all living things on earth. Further on in Gen 2: 8. 15 God planted a beautiful garden. He placed man and woman in it in order to cultivate it and to care for it. This is linked with St. Paul’s exhortation in 2 Thes 3: 2-16 where he invites us not to stay sluggish and busy with other people’s problems, forgetting our own. We, the young people of St Lawrence, do we know our problems? And how can we overcome them? The first step is to identify them, and then we have to walk together and work together. St. Paul is inviting us to go on working and earning our own bread to avoid being a burden to others, to our parents or to the church, thinking that they have to do everything for us.

I therefore encouraged them to walk and work together, to avoid laziness and the attitude of being spoon-fed; always having their hands outstretched to receive what is provided for them. Living with such a mindset and approach is to behave like the third servant in the parable, who instead of making the one talent, which he had received from his master, bear fruit, hid it in the soil (cf. Mt 25: 15. 18. 24-25). At this juncture

I invited our young people not to put their talents to sleep nor bury them in the earth or in selfishness and laziness lest the master come back and rebuke them saying ‘you wicked and lazy servant (youth) … throw this useless servant into darkness outside’ (cf. Mt 25: 26. 30). It is therefore our responsibility as young people here at St. Lawrence to walk and work together and to put our energy and talents together in order to overcome the different challenges we encounter. I then finished by encouraging them like the Apostle “do not be remiss in doing good” (2 Thes 3: 13).

Challenges

Most of these challenges were provided to me by the youth chairperson at the parish, Mr Nestor Bwalya, who knows the parish and the youth better than I do.

Our challenge has been to organise the youths in our parish. In some sections many young people are neither active nor committed to the programmes and the meetings. This means that some programmes have failed because of poor attendance. It is difficult to find young adults willing to participate because they think they are already elders. Those that we have are still around because they hold some positions in youth ministry.

Another challenge is finance. This generation is used to an easy life and things for free and they don’t pay or contribute when needs arise. They like things free of charge and every time they are asked to pay or contribute, they answer ‘ndilibe ndalama’ or ‘shikwete mpiya’, in Chinyanja and in Chibemba, both meaning ‘I don’t have money’. To get anything from them, you have to push them hard; but if you invite them for an outing where everything is pre-arranged, many turn up. This attitude shows a certain lack of enthusiasm and generosity.

Technology has contributed to the lethargy of our young people. They are not active in church programmes because they are so busy with worldly things like: drinking, T.V., Sex, Media (WhatsApp, Facebook, etc.). Sex is killing our young people. They are so much involved in things concerning sex and relationships. It hurts to see girls being impregnated by young boys at a very tender adolescent age. Recently, a young girl of 12 years was impregnated by an altar boy. The church has become an alien for them because in church we tell them that sex before marriage is a sin, which is true, though even after marriage, sex outside marriage is still and remains a sin. So they run away from the church and find themselves in difficulties. How can we help this generation?

The church should take steps to reach out to these young people at their level, listen to them in their daily struggles and then move with them slowly to bring them back to the way Jesus Christ wants to lead them, with a message of hope, because many of our young people are losing hope. This crisis of losing hope and not being able to cope with some problems means some young people go so far as to take their own lives.

A case like this happened just few days ago; a young man, 22 years old, could not cope with some problem that he had, so he decided to take poison and he died straightaway. How can we help the young avoid going to such extremes? Pope Francis in Christus Vivit states: “Christ is alive! He is our hope, and in a wonderful way he brings youth to our world, and everything he touches becomes young, new, and full of life … Christ is alive and he wants you to be alive!” (Pope Francis, Christus Vivit, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation To Young People And To The Entire People Of God). We should be close to our young people and encourage them to follow the way of the living Christ, who at all times wants to renew their lives.

Drugs and beer are another harmful issue. It is rare to find youths who are not involved in some way in such things, especially in the Misisi compound. Another challenge is that many young people are alone and have to fight to earn their daily bread. This means that some of them even have to work on Sunday and cannot go to church.

Patrick 3

Not all the parents manage to send their children to school because of poverty. This has been the root of the many problems our young people meet. In such cases some parents will even push their children to marry early or young people themselves will enter an early marriage without the consent of parents. Otherwise girls beget children outside mariage and are then forced to stay at home with their parents. This means that they stop seeing their friends and begin to feel very isolated.

Conclusion

With these challenges and others that are not listed here, I am challenged and you my fellow confreres are also challenged to make contact with young people and see how best we can help them in their daily struggles. The way will be long and certainly there is a lot to be done.

Young people need to be approached at the level where they are. We bring them the message of hope and not so much the teachings, laws and decrees, though they are important in themselves, but sometimes they seem detached from the reality on the ground. As the Pope once again reminds us, we should approach them with tenderness and love showing them that Christ is in them, with them and he never abandons them. However far they may wander, he is always there. He calls them and he waits for them to return to him and start over again. He is always there to restore their strength and their hope (cf. CV 2). Therefore we should encourage young people to know that they are not meant to become discouraged; but rather they are meant to dream great things, to seek vast horizons, to aim higher, to take on the world, to accept challenges and to offer the best of themselves to the building of something better (cf. CV 15). Let this be a challenge to me and you as we strive to work and help our young people grow into becoming more human and to turn into better persons in tomorrow’s society and above all to become good Christians.

Source: Petit Echo 2019 / 05, No 1101

Henley Parish Youth ministry


By Faustin Kerumbe, M.Afr

Introduction

Faustin KerumbeToday, we believe that through Youth Ministry – in other words the Pastoral Care of the Youth – the Church can offer to young people something for their spiritual growth and human development. The Youth Apostolate is an investment in its own right for the future of the Church and society. As we once asked ourselves the question about what are we going to do or to be in life, in the same way, there are also many young people who are asking these same questions but without finding answers. Consequently they fall into despair. Can our Youth Ministry help them to find answers and offer hope? The mission is imperative: “Duc in altum!” (Launch into the deep)

Where are we?

Henley Parish is our field of pastoral work. It is in the Catholic Archdiocese of Durban, KwaZulu Natal, South Africa. I arrived at Henley Parish in December 2014. The Parish had been reopened in 2012 by Fr. Philippe Docq after more than twenty years without the presence of priests due to social and political conflicts. In 2015, Fr. George Okwii took over from Fr. Philippe but there was not, as yet, a proper parish structure. The five outstations that currently form Henley Parish were functioning independently. In December 2015, the 1st Parish Pastoral

Council was formed. I personally took over from Fr. George Okwii in 2016.

What is being done regarding Youth Ministry?

When I took over, Fr. Philippe Docq had already trained the altar servers in all the outstations. Martin Somda, a stagiaire, was also organizing the youth in two of the five outstations. In 2015, Fr. George Okwii introduced the Xaverian Movement. However everything had to be reorganized at all levels. Looking at the young people and taking into account the lengthy absence of priests, I was totally gripped by compassion at finding myself as a shepherd in the middle of lost sheep “…because they were like sheep without a shepherd...” (Mk 6:34b). I strongly felt the need to introduce Youth Ministry as part of our pastoral commitment as a matter of urgency. I was handed the job of youth chaplain by the community. In collaboration with the Parish Pastoral Council, the Youth Ministry was launched in April 2016 with the election of Youth leaders in each outstation. The chairpersons of these five outstations form the Parish Youth Executive. There are Patrons and Matrons representing the parents of the young people and the Parish Pastoral Executive is involved in all youth activities. From that time we started working together as a team. The first task of the Parish leaders was to build unity in the parish and to work together in collaboration with Parish Pastoral Council Executive members. Among the youth groups, we have different organizations such as the Xaverian Movement and Children of Mary Sodality.

The Altar Servers are also part of the Youth ministry. All the youth movements including the Xaverian movement, the Children of Mary and the Altar Servers fall under the responsibility of the Parish Youth Executive leadership. Together they form the youth of Henley parish. Different outstations have different problems but each outstation is encouraged, to adopt the activities of the parish and implement them at local level.

What is being done now is to keep the young people interested through various activities such as leadership training and skills development.

Some youth leaders are already members of the local Church Executive and are fully participating in Church activities. In that way we see our Youth Ministry as an investment project for the future of the Church and society at large.

Henley ParishYouth activities

All the youth activities are carried out in line with the yearly plan drawn up by the Parish Youth Executive. The primary aim is to bring the young people of Henley parish together and make the Church a welcoming environment for their spiritual growth and human development.

New Year events:

At the beginning of the year we have a special Mass for young people. All the intentions ask God to bless the young people and their families, to guide and to protect them throughout the year. On the last Sunday of January we have a motivational program for education under the theme: “Go back to school and shine.” This event is run by some qualified teachers who talk to the young people about the challenges of life and the importance of education.

Lenten Season activities

We can summarize our youth activities during the Lenten season under St Benedict’s principle, “Ora et labora.” Every second weekend of Lent we have a parish youth recollection day that starts with the Way of the Cross on a hilltop called KwaSabelo. The fourth weekend of Lent is the day of charity work at a school for blind people called “Bawinile Centre.” This event is organized in order to help young people enrich their spiritual life through prayers, contemplation and works of charity, to develop their sense of empathy, to sacrifice their basic needs for the benefit of the unprivileged or needy, to encourage young people to reach out and to put their faith into practice. During this period of Lent, the members of the Xaverian Movement and the altar servers select a poor family and then go and help them by cleaning and cooking.

July and August activities

On the first weekend of July, we have the Parish Youth Council. This is a moment where the young people come together to evaluate their activities for the past six months. It is also an opportunity for them to develop a spirit of communication and of listening to one another. In the second week of July we have the “Youth Winter camp”. This is the most successful event in the Parish. It is full of activities that young people like. It was introduced in 2016 at the parish level but for the last two years it has attracted numbers of young people from other parishes. So far the youth camp is the most important activity for young people as it brings them together and even non-Catholics come along. On their arrival they are given a team number and all the youth camp activities are conducted by teams. Each team with its leader coordinates the activities.

It gives them a chance to know each other and to overcome their differences as well as helping them to accept one another and to learn from one another. Furthermore, it helps them develop a spirit of teamwork and service, etc. On Saturday morning all the teams go to different families with a Gospel inspired theme and to witness to what the theme is inviting them to be by doing something practical. In the evening, they give a feedback on their mission. On Sunday afternoon they are given a talk on the Church and its mission; the place and the commitments of young people and vocations in Church. It is also a time to answer some of the questions the young people are asking about the Church especially about vocations and faith. In the evening before the departure day, the young people are put in two groups: boys and girls separately. They are given a talk on education to life under the topic: “men to men; women to women”.

In August we have the skills training for liturgy like keyboard training, singing and public reading. A fun walk and sports are also organized in August for young people to help them keep fit and for fundraising purposes in order to try to be self-sustainable financially knowing that many of our young people are still studying and unemployed.

December and summer activities

YoungOn the second weekend of December we have the second Parish Youth Council to evaluate the activities of the past year and to prepare plans for the coming year. The third weekend is the weekend for our summer outing to allow our young people to socialize, to relax and to meet their curiosity by discovering some interesting places. So far, our young people have toured to the Drakensberg Mountains, the Roseland Reserve and Richards Bay. The last weekend of December we have a closing Mass of Thanksgiving to God for everything He has done for the young people during the past year.

Synod on the Youth

Henley Parish 2The Synod on the Youth was successfully launched at the Archdiocesan level. However, there is a lack of communication between the Diocesan Youth Office, the Deanery and parishes in terms of follow up and implementation of the guidelines proposed for youth activities in parishes. Our deanery is suffering from the absence of a youth chaplain, as a result we continue with our own parish plan for the year.

In general the young people make their presence felt in our parish. We are thankful for their response and their participation in Church activities despite some challenges we encountered in the course of the year due to the school calendar. But there is hope and the future is bright. We started as a small group but today it reaches out beyond our parish. The unity among the young people, their active presence in Church and their participation in the Church’s outreach activities is a visible sign of the impact of our Youth Ministry. By throwing out our nets, we are gradually catching more young people. We hope that this growing tree that we are watering today will bear much fruit tomorrow for the benefit of the Church and its mission.

Source: Petit Echo, 2019 /05 – No 1101.

Catholic Youth for Christ


By Lawrence Tukamushaba, M.Afr

Lawrence Tukamushaba

In line with the call of Pope Francis to devote the 2018 Synod of Bishops to young people, the Archdiocese of Kasama decided to dedicate the whole year to them. Catholic Youth for Christ was the theme that was chosen to guide the year. The Year of Youth was launched with Solemn Mass in a packed Cathedral by young people from all parts of the Archdiocese.

The adolescence young adult stage is a critical time in the life of young people. It is a stage where they are searching for their place in the Church and society. It’s a time when they need to be grounded in their faith. Role models, mentors, spiritual guidance, counsellors are much needed at this critical stage. When not much attention is paid to young people then there is the risk of losing some of them to new religious denominations and new ideological movements.

Youth organizations in St. Anne’s Parish

In St. Anne’s parish, pastoral care of young people is one of the most important ministries. Our parish has a large vibrant youth group scattered over our 15 outstations but the majority of the organisations are to be found in the central parish area as this is in town. Most of the young people belong to lay groups such as Xavarians movement, Young Christian workers, Junior legionaries, Stellas (Liturgical dancers), Alter boys club, Senior youth (those transiting from youth to Adults). Besides this, the young people have their own Small Christian Communities where they meet every Sunday afternoon to share the word of God. They also hold a youth council once a month. We also have Youth Alive and Young Christian Students. With so many groups, one cannot just leave them in the hands of Parish Priest. There has always been a tradition in the Parish that the curate and stagiaire give special attention to young people. Each lay group and Small Christian Community for the youth has a youth leader who accompanies them and works together with the youth chaplain and promoters. Without praising ourselves, this system has always worked well and as a result it has become the practice in the diocese that a priest, stagiaire, and a sister are assigned to youth ministry in the Parish.

Parish Activities

Lenten retreatAt the beginning of the year, all youth groups meet in the Parish to plan the activities for the coming year. The activities range from the spiritual (retreats, pilgrimage to the old mission of Chilubula, biblical and doctrinal quizzes, spiritual talks), to charitable works such as visiting the sick and homes of the physically challenged, plus social activities, sports, cultural and talent shows, youth day celebrations, career guidance, sensitization on social issues like drug and substance abuse, issues of Justice and Peace, youth camps, among others. Some activities are organized at the centre level, parish, deanery or diocesan level. At the parish level the program is done by the parish executive together with the chaplain. Every time there is a Church council or Parish council the youth organisations also give their report.

One annual event that attracts many young people is the pilgrimage to Chilubula, the Cathedral in Zambia where our confrere, Joseph Dupont, the first Bishop of the region is buried. The pilgrimage to Chilubula was started by our predecessors in the Parish. Now it has become an annual event in the deanery. Last year in October 2018, I accompanied 400 young people of whom half was from our parish, on a 35km journey on foot. It was an enriching experience for me walking with them, singing and praying, giving talks at various stations and especially celebrating the Eucharist for them at Besnar Centre, 5 km from Chilubula.

Some challenges for youth ministry today

Religious pluralism.

A number of our young people come from families with different denominations among its members. Unlike in the past where you would find that the whole family was Catholic; today, with the coming of Pentecostalism, the situation is different. Some have defected to these churches. You find that in a family of five some are Catholics, others are evangelicals or Pentecostals. This affects the faith as Catholics tend to shy away from expressing their faith, in fact at times, they belittle their faith. For example one youth shared that his siblings, who are no longer Catholics, laugh at him when he makes the sign of the cross.

It’s easy to notice that most of our young people’s way of praying is influenced by these religious movements whose leaders have a big following on social media. This confuses them and leads them to question their faith in Catholic doctrines.

Family breakdown in modern times.

NurseA good number of our young people are raised by single parents; others have been orphaned at a young age and were brought up by their grandparents. Some have never met their fathers. Dealing with such young people needs care and attention which cannot be solved by Mass or the administration of sacraments. It needs spending time to listen to them and counselling them. Peer counselling is a skill that is needed.

The widening gap between Urban and Rural Youth

There is a growing gap between young people coming from urban and rural setups. St. Anne’s Parish has a small section of the parish in town while the other, bigger part, is in a rural setting. Young people living in the countryside are more disadvantaged as they have limited access to social facilities. We have some outstations where getting to school is a challenge. In some areas, children have to walk 10 km on foot to reach the nearest primary school. In the rainy season, roads get really bad and some bridges are washed away. Added to that, the grass grows tall so that it becomes risky to walk in the bush and on top of all that some villages are widely scattered. In such areas it is difficult to find someone who has finished secondary school. This poses a challenge of leadership in the Church. It also increases a vicious circle of poverty.

YouthAs a result, there is high incidence of school drop-outs, early marriages, and teenage pregnancies. In the year 2017, I baptized 17 adults among whom were 8 school girls aged between 14 and 18 years of age who had dropped out of school. Later I discussed with their parents and church council how to ensure that they go back to school. As pastoral agents it is our task to take a keen interest in the formal education of our Christians if our ministry is to be transformative.

Conclusion

Youth ministry has always been part and parcel of our priority as witnessed by some of the lay movements which our confreres started in various countries, by the youth centres we still run and by the big number of young people that have been educated by the Missionaries of Africa. Today we need to invest more in this noble ministry because it is by starting with young people that we can be assured of continuity in the Church and mission. Pope Francis rightly says “youth are the now of God”. I believe so. They are not only the future leaders but the present hope of the Church today.

Source: Petit Echo, 2019 / 05 – No 1101

A short history of the Centre for Social Concern at the occasion of clocking 15 years.


Several chapters of the society of Missionaries of Africa put increasingly greater stress on the link between mission and justice and peace, mission and dialogue. The chapter of 1998 speaking in the language of objectives and planning proposed to all the members that they should integrate justice, peace and the integrity of creation as an essential dimension of our lives as missionaries and to promote dialogue with those who are different in religion and culture. In Malawi during the post-capitular assembly the participants put this chapter decision into practice by evaluating all our commitments with as criteria: in which commitments (parishes) can we best apply the above-mentioned objectives. This led to a recommendation that we should both plan to handover some of the parishes we were running then, but also start new projects with the specific intention to respond to the challenge posed by the 1998 chapter. The Missionaries of Africa already had a centre dedicated to culture in Kungoni so we saw the need for a new venture, which would dedicate itself to Justice and Peace and the Integrity of Creation. This became the Centre for Social Concern. It took about three years of deliberation before we actually were ready to commence. Kanengo was chosen as the location, next to St. Francis Parish.

The infrastructure was first on the list. A house for confreres to live and an office block with a small library. We hired our first personnel. There was a small group of Missionaries of Africa who guided the process. The CfSC needed to find its niche in the ecclesial and national landscape. The CfSC also needed to find the funds to run it. Since the director had experience of working with CORDAID this Dutch co-financing organisation became the first partner to the CfSC. At the same time because of existing contacts with some members of GTZ, the centre was asked to assist in a project to research whether there is a link between (self)-marginalisation and violence. It was the time after the bombing of the World Trade Towers in New York and the project proposed to research this thesis. The CfSC was asked to do this. It led to our inter-religious dialogue project. Because what we found out was that there seemed not to be a direct link, but that even mainline religious groups were becoming more fundamentalist so that the normal ‘dialogue of life’ was not deemed sufficient to cope with this hardening of opinion and increase in prejudice. The conclusion was that a greater effort needs to be made to tackle prejudice and promote greater religious tolerance. The method followed was to do first a fairly in-depth appraisal to find out what is happening in a specific area and based on that to start some interventions, which lead to greater tolerance.  The centre bundled the lessons learned in Karonga and Nkotakhota in a book and at its launch, it was asked to tackle the tense situation that had arisen in Mangochi. Following the method proposed a team of researchers from different religious backgrounds started with the in-depth appraisal. The subsequent action was done by the ‘Forum for Dialogue and Peace’.

Promoting Critical Thinking

The library proved very popular and burst out of it seems. The room earmarked was far too small and new building was added to our infrastructure. It housed both a large meeting room and a library with reading room. In the meantime, the Centre employed an economist who was heading the economic governance desk and it embarked on its first strategic plan. It advocated for debt cancellation and used as a channel for this work the faith community leaders. It was at this time that the basic needs basket research was shaping up and being done in the four main cities in Malawi. Other donors came on board like OSISA, TROCAIRE and Misereor. While the first strategic plan was produced in 2005, there was need for a follow-up plan in 2008. This was the first plan for which the CfSC hired a consultant. 2011 and 2014 followed. In that way the CfSC tried to stay focused, refine its mission and adjust its vision according to changing circumstances. What helped it to focus were some of the principles of Catholic Social Teaching like: the option for the poor, the common good and the integrity of creation.

The Poorest of the Poor

One of the groups of people that deserved the attention of the centre were and are the tenants on tobacco farms. They are the forgotten ones but with their sweat they produce the crop that brings in a large amount of the foreign exchange which is needed to keep the economy going and cover the imports which Malawi needed to survive. Our cars, little do we realise that it is because of the sweat of tenants that we can drive them. But they themselves even today are oppressed. The much-touted Integrated Production System has only lifted the old system to another plain: now the landlords have become the tenants of the tobacco companies. Many of them still use the bonded labour, because of lack of sufficient liquidity to pay salaries on a regular basis. Without these interventions by Justice and Peace groups and the Centre for Social Concern, they would truly have belonged to the forgotten of the earth.

Human Trafficking

The centre started bringing to the attention of the nation those who were being subjugated to new forms of slavery: those who were trafficked either within or to outside the country. This work was in line with the work of the founder of the Missionaries of Africa, Cardinal Lavigerie, who played an important role in the abolishment of slavery in the eighteen seventies. Today human trafficking is the new slavery. The centre cooperated with women’s groups at first within the Catholic Church but later also with others, creating awareness about this modern scourge and training women to recognise human trafficking when it was occurring in their areas and to report it to the centre, which was taking further action. This was several years before Norwegian Church Aid made money available to several NGOs and supported action against human trafficking to the point of assisting the nation to draft legislation which made it easier to punish this heinous crime.

Inspired by Catholic Social Teaching

The centre did a survey in how far it is true that Catholic Social Teaching is our best kept secret: in other words, in how far does this body of teaching influence Catholic Christians. This was to prepare a project which was trying to introduce a value-based approach to policy debates. The idea was that the country needs not only sound economics but these economics must also be ethically sound. This in turn was part of the ‘active citizenship’ pillar of the 2014 strategic plan. In earlier strategies the centre referred to ‘building human capital’: An indication that the CfSC was recognising that integral development, justice and peace can only be realised when citizens themselves take to heart their own human development.

From ‘advocacy for’ to ‘advocacy by’                                                                                                          

Empowerment has also been underlying the efforts of the centre in its advocacy strategy to move from advocacy for to advocacy by. The centre started basic needs advocacy groups. These were trained in identifying the issues concerning their lives, their rights. They learned how analyse them, and how to link them to their rights as rights holders. With the help of the centre they had interface meetings with the duty bearers where they raised the issues. This led to duty bearers realising they could not just do business as usual. They had to account and become transparent. It also led to remedial action, like improving health services, school buildings, and the provision of clean water. The citizens started to realise that they did have power. If duty bearers did not respond the media helped by bringing the problems to the attention of the whole nation. This ‘rights-based approach’ to development has proven to be a powerful tool for empowering communities to take their own lives in their hands and do the needful to rise out of poverty.

Up and Downs

In our history we met, of course, with ups and downs like changing priorities among the donor partners. Working with people at the grassroots takes time and often the demands were for short-term results. While generally the CfSC can pride itself on a dedicated staff, this was not always the case. But all considered, the centre thought it was right that it celebrates 15 years of existence. The whole staff did so in the presence of some of our volunteers, partners, and well-wishers. It is gratifying to hear it confirmed that the basic needs basket is fulfilling a need and is eagerly awaited by many; that even if very slowly taxation justice is becoming a bit more of a reality; that networking has helped the tenants so that their cause is not forgotten; that the revival of the monster of unsustainable debt is at least brought to the attention of all stakeholders; that youth and adults find good literature and a conducive environment for study in our library; that people realise that they are the rights holders and can proudly refer to good developments in their areas because they feel they are equipped to for interface meetings with duty bearers; that so many people have been empowered with knowledge and graduated from being a victim of circumstances to agent of their own development. In other words, there was reason to celebrate. This was done on the 22nd of November 2018 through an open day. In the presence of Archbishop Tarsizius Ziyaye and colleagues from civil society, donor partners and co-operators, volunteers and beneficiaries the CfSC thanked God and showcased its work in the areas of social conditions research, economic governance, inter-religious dialogue and active citizenship. It was a great celebration like a crown on 15 years of learning, operating, implementing our vision and mission.

The Future

One thing we learned as an organisation is that development is a slow process. It needs an awakening of those at the grassroots, who are experiencing the problems often not of their own making. It needs dedication and commitment. It needs the contribution of all, especially those in power be they politicians or technocrats, NGOs or donors. Malawi is still one of the least developed countries. It is still referred as a country with one of the lowest GDP in the world. But the CfSC does not think that this is preordained. Charting its course into the future it wants to assist its clients to build on strength, to discover their potential and make it work for them and for the common good. This means that there is still plenty of work to be done. Reinforcing the rights-based approach. Continuing to bring together those who are different in religion and culture, to discover what unites and to make religion one the forces for the common good and against division. It needs the contribution of the Centre for Social Concern.

2017-01 CfSC Press Review

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Commemoration of 150 years of the M.Afr in Chipata diocese


Modéra Bazié2By Modéra Bazié, stagiaire

In order to commemorate the 150 years of the foundation of the Society of the Missionaries of Africa, the diocese of Chipata expressed its gratitude to the White Fathers by organising a pilgrimage of faith in Lumimba Parish run by our confreres.

On Saturday 20th October, a number of activities were held in Chasera; poetry, a play, a traditional dance presented by the students of the formation house in Chipata and football matches. Were present Bishop George Lungu, brethren from other Christian denominations and representatives from the Muslim community.

At the Sunday Eucharistic celebration, honourable chief Mwanya attested her happiness and the gratefulness of the people of Chasera for the work of our ancestors in the mission. She also expressed her thankfulness for the education and health facilities the missionaries have been given to the people of Chasera. She concluded: zikomo kwambiri, which means ‘‘thank you very much’’.

Bishop George Lungu expressed his joy of having missionaries in his diocese. He also prayed for the first confreres who planted the Catholic faith in Chipata. He encouraged all the religious over the diocese and the students of the Missionaries of Africa to take up the challenges of their time in order to bring the Gospel to all the whole world in the same spirit as the first missionaries did. All gratitude to the Missionaries of Africa, he said.

Chasera-01He also invited the Christians to be grateful for what the confreres have done and are still doing for them by supporting them. He concluded his speech with a special word of gratitude to Father Toon van Kessel for his wonderful work in Chipata diocese.

Finally, Father Adelarde Munishi thanked the Bishop, the whole diocese, the traditional believers and other denominations for their collaboration. We are all from one Family, the family of God – Banja Nyumba Ali modzi, he said. He expressed his gratitude to the Christians of Chasera for having hosted the celebration.

In this atmosphere of great joy, the celebration ended with the final blessing of Bishop George Lungu after the missionaries had sung the Sancta Maria.

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Chinsapo becomes a fully fledged Parish, Malawi


Vitus Abobo 2018 (2) copie copieBy Vitus Abobo, M.Afr

Until the 90s, Chinsapo was an outstation of Likuni Parish under the care of the Missionaries of Africa, namely Fr. Roger Bélanger and Fr. Angelo Belloti who developed interest in the area. When the Missionaries of Africa handed over Chilinde and Kawale parishes in 1998, Chinsapo became a possible place to establish a new parish.

Already, Bishop Felix Eugenio Mkhori foresaw that Chinsapo would become a parish. Fr. Martin Onyango initiated the whole process while being curate of Likuni Parish. Together with the Christians, he bought the plot with financial support from the Missionaries of Africa, the people themselves and Bakili Muluzi, President of Malawi between 1994 and 2004.

Fr. Martin Onyango, Fr. Jacques Pallas, Fr. Piet Van Hulten, and Fr. Julio Feliu worked in Likuni until it was handed over to the diocese in 2003. Fr. Jacques Pallas, chaplain of Likuni hospital, though staying at the sector house in town, went to Chinsapo regularly.

The idea of Chinsapo becoming a Parish came back in 2008. Fr. Piet Van Hulten together with Fr. Louis Blondel sent Fr. Julio Feliu, who was then the Parish Priest at Mua, to Chinsapo. Earlier on, during a confirmation ceremony of 200 Christians, the people of Chinsapo asked Bishop Rémi Sainte-Marie to make Chinsapo a parish.

Fr. Julio arrived in Chinsapo in February 2009. He put his heart into the pastoral work. Though the official status of Chinsapo was not clear, Fr. William Thurnbull, then the Sector Delegate for Malawi, and his team kept supporting Julio. Finally, Chinsapo became a quasi-parish on 3rd June 2009, the Feast of the Martyrs of Uganda and named after St. Denis.

The infrastructural developments currently in Chinsapo started with the construction of the sports ground which in the beginning was the crossroad of many roads. Afterwards the Christians built a fence at a cost of about four million kwacha. Then the catechist’s house, Home Base Care (HBC) also known as the Rainbow Centre was constructed with support from a Spain-based NGO, followed by the Justice and Peace office.

In 2010, Chinsapo received some financial help through Bishop Rémi from the Society for the Propagation of the Faith in Rome to build the Parish residence. It has taken six years for the building project to be completed.

Unfortunately, Fr. Julio fell ill due to back problems and had to go home for treatment. During that time the future of Chinsapo became very dim as there were even plans of having it over to the Silesians or the Jesuits.

Then Fr. Felix Phiri, the new SAP Provincial, realising the situation of Chinsapo, requested Fr. Julio to ask the confreres at the Sector house for support. From that time, Fr. Paul Namono, Fr. Michel Sanou, Fr. Africano Mucunguzi kept giving Julio a helping hand in the Pastorals at Chinsapo.

Around the middle of this year 2018, the Province/Sector decided to establish a Missionary of Africa community at Chinsapo and make Chinsapo a project of the Missionaries of Africa. After discussions between the Missionaries of Africa and the current bishop of Lilongwe Archdiocese, Chinsapo was raised from to status of quasi-parish to a full parish.

Chinsapo blessed with a Parish and Missionaries of Africa community.

Chinsapo 04On the 26th of August, 2018 Chinsapo was blessed with the erection of not only a new Missionary of Africa Community, but also the raising of its status from quasi-parish to a full-fleshed one. The Bishop of Lilongwe Archdiocese, Most Rev. Tarsizio G. Ziyaye, made the declaration at the end of a Eucharistic Ceremony.

The Provincial Superior, Fr. Felix Phiri announced the coming of three confreres and a stagiaire. All new community members were present; Fr. Piet van Hulten, Fr. Julio Feliu and the stagiaire Crepin Kombate Moiyikitie. Yet to come Fr. Pawel Patyk from Poland.

At the end of the Mass, the Bishop, announced the good news to all present declaring that: “I myself, in conjunction with the Superiors of the Missionaries of Africa, we have given this Parish to the Missionaries. These our parents in faith will be in charge of this parish and Fr. Julio Feliu is to lead it.”

The declaration was greeted with a lot of ululations and clapping of hands. The Bishop then handed the official letter which he had signed, raising Chinsapo from a quasi-parish to a fully-fledged parish, to Fr. Felix Phiri, the Provincial Superior of Southern African Province.

The Bishop thanked Fr. Roger Tessier who came from Kenya to visit Malawi, before returning to Canada for good. He knew Fr. Roger when he was the manager of Likuni Press, back in the 70s.

At the end of the Mass, the Bishop blessed the house where the new community will be housed, amid melodious songs from the children’s choir.

Both Fr. Piet and Fr. Julio see very great opportunities in the areas of Justice and Peace, Inculturation and Interreligious dialogue. There are about 32 different Christian denominations already at Chinsapo. Also, there is a good relationship with the Khadra group of Muslims, the Anglicans and the Lutherans. They foresee a great challenge in the area of Integrity of Creation, and population density as many people continue to settle in the area. The population is estimated to be about 800,000 people.

Chinsapo 01The focus of Chinsapo as a Parish will be in the area of youth apostolate as almost 70% of the population are below 25 years old. Luckily, some Sisters are expected to arrive in Chinsapo, and they will be of great help in caring for the youth.

Conclusion

This day was a very colourful day, not just because of the sacrament of confirmation that took place, but also because on this day the dream of many confreres and Christians of seeing Chinsapo as a parish was realised. On this same day, God also blessed this new parish with the presence of the Missionaries of Africa community. The questions, doubts and worries of many people about the future of Chinsapo have been laid to rest.

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Celebration of the 150th anniversary of the Missionaries of Africa in Chipata, Zambia.


Father Dave Cullen wrote an article recently about the celebration at Mphangwe which took place on September 8, 2018. Here below is the testimony of Jacob Maasang, stagiaire in Zambia.

By Jacob Maasang, originally from Ghana

Ahead of the official beginning of the 150th anniversary of the Missionaries of Africa which will take place on December 8, I had the opportunity to attend this celebration at Mphangwe Prayer Centre in the Diocese of Chipata on the feast day of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, 8th September 2018 under the theme: “serving God’s people in Africa”.

Apart from members of our Missionary Society, there was a number of men and women religious congregations present as well as a number of lay faithful from the Katete Deanry. Rt. Rev. Bishop Benjamin Phiri, the auxiliary bishop of Chipata Diocese, was the main celebrant.

For Fr. Felix Phiri, our Provincial, the gathering was a blessing moment to commemorate 150 years of service to the people of God in Africa and the African world. He used the opportunity to explain the mission of the Missionaries of Africa through a brief history of our founder and our Society. He recorded the early struggles our first missionaries met in Africa and the activities done by our confreres in Zambia up to now.

According to Bishop Benjamin, it was not a thanksgiving Mass for the missionaries alone but also for the people of Zambia, especially the Diocese of Chipata. He gave acknowledgement to some elderly confreres, still present, who worked utterly in that diocese. For him, it was an opportunity for the people to appreciate the work of evangelisation done by the missionaries of Africa in that part of Zambia.

After the Eucharistic celebration, all the Missionaries of Africa introduced themselves. To my surprise, I was the only one to do so in icibemba while others did it in cinyaja. Messages of congratulation and gifts followed. To my amazement, there was even a cow offered by the Katete deanery.

Done in a very simple manner, everybody had something to eat and drink. This, I felt, was part of our charism as our founder insisted on simple lifestyle and moderation in everything. I was very happy and privilege to be at this 150th anniversary celebration of our foundation as Missionaries of Africa, serving the people of Africa and the African world. Mission continues.

Celebration at Mphangwe of 150 Years of the Foundation of the Missionaries of Africa, September 8th, 2018


By Fr Dave Cullen Dave Cullen - Chipata Hospital 2014 06 copie, M.Afr

Bishop George Lungu, the Ordinary of Chipata Diocese, graciously offered to commemorate the foundation of the Missionaries of Africa 150 years ago with two Masses in the diocese, one at Chasera where the missionaries first arrived, but for a very brief period, and the second at the first parish established by the Society in 1913 at Mphangwe. It was at there that we celebrated Mass on the Feast of the Birthday of the Blessed Virgin Mary on September 8th.

It was Katete Deanery that both prepared the celebration and, together with some help from other deaneries, funded the expenses involved. The Montfort Fathers, who are in charge of Mphangwe Prayer Centre, had put a great deal of effort to ensuring that the event was fittingly celebrated. Tarpaulins had been put up to enable almost everyone present to be shielded from the sun. Radio Maria was present to record the Mass and ensure that the loudspeaker system was in good order. A considerable number of the diocesan clergy concelebrated the Mass, together with a Comboni Missionary and several other priests, one coming from as far away as the United States on visit in Katete. Likewise, there were representatives from the various Religious Congregations, Sisters and Brothers. Parishioners from Mphangwe itself had also come in large numbers.

ZAMBIE 2The Mass was presided by the auxiliary bishop of Chipata Diocese, Benjamin Phiri. Before the Mass began, the bishop invited our Provincial, Fr Felix Phiri, to give a brief history of the work of the Missionaries of Africa in Chipata Diocese. It was, in fact, the Missionaries of Africa who founded the Church in the Eastern Province. In 1937 the Prefecture of Fort Jameson was established with Fr Fernand Martin as the priest in charge. At that time there were 3 missions in the care of ten Missionaries of Africa, strangely enough, precisely the number still doing apostolic work in the diocese today. However, those original ten eventually increased to fifty-five.

It was Fr Firmin Courtemanche who succeeded Fr Martin in 1947. He was ordained bishop and named Prefect Apostolic of Fort Jameson in 1953. The first diocesan priest in the Prefecture was Fr Zakaria Kapingira, ordained in 1939. The number of White Fathers, as they were then known, having been given that name in North Africa where they were distinguished by the white habit they wore, increased in the diocese during the Second World War that began in 1939, and many new mission stations were opened up by them. After the war, the number of diocesan priests gradually began to increase, foremost among them being Fr Medardo Mazombwe, ordained bishop in 1971 of what had now come to be named Chipata Diocese. He would later be transferred to Lusaka Archdiocese and be made a Cardinal.

As the number of parishes increased Bishop Mazombwe sought the help of other Missionary Societies, the Comboni Missionaries, Missionaries of St Patrick, known as the Kiltegan Fathers, Missionaries of Mary Immaculate, the Montfort Fathers and the Carmelites. Not only did the number of diocesan clergy begin to increase, but also Religious Congregations of Sisters, some from other countries, others from locally founded Congregations, caring for the sick in hospitals, teaching in schools and sharing in the apostolic tasks in a number of parishes.

Felix Phiri 03Fr Felix Phiri finished his presentation by giving thanks for those who had gone to the Lord as also by asking blessings on the Priests, Brothers and Sisters still offering themselves for the spread of the Kingdom of God in Chipata Diocese today.

After this introduction, before beginning Mass, Bishop Benjamin introduced to the congregation the Missionaries of Africa present, four of whom he described as our ‘Senior Citizens’, first of all Fr Henk van Kessel who, the previous day, had celebrated his 92nd birthday and is still very active as the diocesan archivist, Fr Joe McMenamin, Fr Toon van Kessel and Fr Dave Cullen, all of whom had given many years of service in the diocese. He then began the Mass which was offered prayerfully with the well-rehearsed contribution of the choir and Stellas.

After communion gifts were offered to the Missionaries of Africa, first by Bishop Benjamin, then by many of the clergy and Religious present, as also by many of the laity. As something of a finale, a group of Missionary of Africa students who were present at the Mass, together with a Missionary of Africa priest from Zambia itself, swaying rhythmically to the singing of the choir, brought a gift to the bishop. Coming from various countries in Africa they, together with the ‘Senior Citizens’ and the several other Missionaries of Africa present, witnessed to the international and multiracial character of the Missionaries of Africa.

After Mass all present were invited to a meal that had been prepared for us by our hosts and shared in the dining halls that the Montfort Fathers have had constructed for such events as that of today. From there we all departed in thankfulness and peace to our communities and homes.

ZAMBIE 1

2018 Kungoni Cultural Festival


Kungoni_Open_Day_2018By Robert Kalindiza

As Malawi prepares to conduct a tripartite election, Father Claude Boucher Chisale decided to pass the message of elections in this year’s cultural performances.

Before different dances, there was a traditional Mass. The preacher was Bishop Montfort Sitima of Mangochi diocese. Over six priests accompanied Father Boucher including Father Michel Sanou as the official representative of the Missionaries of Africa in Malawi. Many people from different parts of the world were also in attendance.

Over thirty dances were showcased.

Recent death John Michael (Ben) Henze and Melvin Doucette, former missionaries in Malawi and Zambia.


Michael HenzeJohn Michael (Ben) Henze on Monday the 7th May 2018 at Ealing Hospital (London – UK) at the age of 84 years, of which 57 years of missionary life in Zambia and in the United Kingdom.

Milestones of Father John Michael Henze’s life

John Michael was born on the 6th May 1934 in North London, in the neighbourhood of Edmonton. He was living in the Diocese of Nottingham when he entered the Noviciate (Spiritual Year) on the 7th September 1956 in‘s-Heerenberg. He then continued his studies of theology in Totteridge, in North London, where he took his Missionary Oath on the 13th July 1960 and was ordained to the priesthood on the 3rd February 1961. John Michael was better known as Ben.

In Malawi: 01/11/1967; Lilongwe. In Zambia: 04/06/1968; Chikungu, Chipata. 18/01/1969; Chipata, St. Anne’s. 01/04/1977; Solwezi, Solwezi. 01/04/1979; Mufulira, Ndola. 01/05/1983; Religious Education Adviser at Mufulira, Ndola. 01/01/1992; Kitwe. 01/09/1992; Ndola. 01/06/2003; Sabbatical. 01/05/2004; Ndola. 01/06/2007; C.U.Z.-Lecturer at Ndola. 01/07/2011; appointment in Great Britain.

Melvin DoucetteMelvin Doucette on Wednesday 27th June, 2018 at Tignish (Canada) at the age of 79 years, of which 51 years of missionary life in Zambia and in Canada.

Milestones of Father Melvin Doucette’s life

Melvin was born on March 2, 1939 in Tignish, a small fishing village on the northern tip of Prince Edward Island, Canada. He entered the Novitiate (Spiritual Year) of the Missionaries of Africa on August 31, 1963 in Franklin, USA. He then continued his theological studies at Totteridge (London, UK) where he took his missionary oath on 25th June 1967. He returned to his native village to receive priestly ordination on June 22, 1968.

In Zambia: 01/09/1968; Ilondola. 01/01/1969; Lwena, Kasama. 01/01/1973; Lwena. 01/10/1974; Chilubula. 01/09/1979; Chilubi, Kasama. 01/09/1982; Monastic experience at Nanyuki in Kenya. 01/10/1983; Lubushi and Mulobola. 01/11/1986; Malole. 01/04/1987; Chilubula, Kasama. 28/02/1990; Jerusalem Israel. 01/09/1991; Malole, Kasama. 19/04/1999; appointed to Canada.

Father Dominic Kapatamoyo’s Priestly Ordination in Chezi, Malawi – July 7, 2018


19 Dominic ordiBy Vitus Danaa Abobo, M.Afr

On the 7th of July, the parish of Chezi in Malawi witnessed an unforgettable event as our confrere Dominic Kapatamoyo was ordained priest. There was a big crowd of people present to this memorable event, the first of its kind in the parish. Sisters, Brothers, Fathers and students in formation from Balaka, all members of the Lavigerie’s family, were present in their numbers together with other religious congregations, diocesan priests, various religious denominations, family members and friends as well as parishioners. Also present were Archbishop Tarsizio G. Ziyaye and our confrere Bishop Emeritus Remi Sainte-Marie.

A priest is another Christ chosen and sent out to serve and console the people of God in order to show them what the Kingdom of God entails. Archbishop Ziyaye agreed with the invite of Cardinal Lavigerie to his missionaries “to be apostles, nothing but apostles”. Being apostles should become our being. Ending his homily, the Archbishop invited everyone to pray for the priest to be ordained, that the Lord may give him all the graces that he needs.

The Archbishop was touched by the fact that Dominic is the son of a long-serving catechist, Mr Kapatamoyo. He was also happy that Dominic was ordained priest as a Missionary of Africa adding that “they are like our parents”, being the first missionaries to bring the gospel in that part of the world. He was happy about the good organisation of the event and active participation of the people, seeing it as a golden opportunity for vocation promotion.

The Provincial Delegate in Malawi, Father Michel Sanou, expressed his gratitude and happiness to the parishioners of Chezi for the good organisation. This remarkable event is a golden opportunity to call other youths to follow the example of Dominic to answer the call to missionary life.

At the end of the Mass, Father Felix Phiri, the Provincial of the Southern Africa Province (SAP), emphasised the missionary nature of the work as Missionaries of Africa. Like the missionaries working in Chezi Parish, originating from other African countries, Dominic will be working away from his home parish. On that note, he announced that the newly ordained priest is sent to Mingana in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) where he already spent two years for pastoral training during his initial formation.

14 Dominic ordiThe Provincial added that the presence of representatives from Protestant churches shows a sense of solidarity among the Christians of different denominations. The event of the day is also a visible fruit of the Missionaries of Africa celebrating its 150th anniversary of foundation. He remarked how the work and faith of Dominic’s father as a catechist has been a pillar for Dominic’s vocation journey.

Filled with joy, Father Dominic expressed his gratitude to God for the gift of his priestly ordination, seeing it as a humbling honour. He was impressed by the sacrifices the parishioners, confreres, family and friends made since December 2017 to ensure the success of the event. He was also overjoyed by the presence of so many people, two bishops and friends from Zimbabwe, France, Ireland and Kenya to witness his ordination. For Dominic, the presence of all these people from far and near is a sign of the Church’s unity. In a sense of gratitude, he asked God to be with him in his priestly calling.

The ordination of Father Dominic was for the Missionaries of Africa a time of coming together to support, pray with and thank the Lord. It also became for the parish of Chezi a moment of working together to support and pray for and with their own son. For the parents of the newly ordained, the celebration was the answer to their prayers since their son started his formation with the Missionaries of Africa.

May God richly reward you all for the support rendered to us to make Dominic’s ordination a success.

 

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Declaration of Intent of Thierry Uyirwoth


Declaration of intent Thierry 01By Thierry Uyirwoth/ Stagiaire at St. Lawrence Parish

I renewed my declaration of intent to continue my journey with the Missionaries of Africa on Sunday, 11th March 2018. I freely made the decision after the fulfilment I am gaining in my pastoral training at St. Lawrence Parish. The ceremony itself was simple but prayerful, meaningful and well prepared. Father Babaine Venerato, the Provincial Delegate of Zambia Sector was the main celebrant and received my declaration of intent in the presence of Father Frédéric Ajaruva, my Parish Priest, and Father Antoon, the Superior of my community. Father Michel Meunier the Southern African Province (SAP) secretary was also present. Many of our parishioners witnessed the event and were very pleased to see that I am making a step ahead in my formation.

May I take this opportunity to thank God for helping me to continue finding joy in my training toward missionary life. Thanks also to my community for the support and good preparation of the event. Thanks to the Provincial Delegate who came to receive it. Thanks to all my parishioners and to you all for your prayers. May God continue helping me to discern his will.

Declaration of intent Thierry 04

Zambia sector stagiaires meeting, 2018


By Hilario Villaver (1st year) and Emile Baguma (2nd year)

The stagiaires meeting is a way of being together, of strengthening our relationship from different corners of Zambia. We were six stagiaires (five in their second year and one first year), and our coordinator: Emile Baguma, from Kasamba Parish/Mansa Diocese; Thierry Uyirwoth, from Saint Lawrence Parish/Lusaka Archdiocese; Jean-Marie Chishugi, from Namushakende Parish/Mongu Diocese; Emmanuel Kokpe, from St Annes’ parish/Kasama Archdiocese; Chandan Nayak, from Good Shepherd-Kabwata Parish/Lusaka Archdiocese and Hilario Villaver Jr., St John the Baptist-New Kaloko Parish/Ndola Diocese; and Fr. Camillo Konkobo, stagiaires’ coordinator.

We held our meeting in our M.Afr community of Ndola, from the 26th February to the 3rd March 2018 with the assistance of our coordinator Fr. Camillo. We started with a recollection lead by Fr. Camillo on the theme “gratefulness” through meditating upon Luke 17, 11-19. We enjoyed having Masses and prayers together as stagiaires. We also joined the congregation at the Cathedral for the way of the cross on Friday. We consecrated this moment to know, deepen and share about our experiences on the apostolic training, with its joys and challenges. We had a good time of recreating and chatting together, with social colourful evening with the entire community of Ndola. We were privileged to welcome our provincial, Fr. Felix Phiri. He came to visit and hear from us. His words of encouragements were well received, and it gave us more flavour for the mission. We had time to relax and discover the Copperbelt especially some designated areas. Wherever we were going together, we were keeping our good spirit of concern for each other with a good atmosphere among us. We were not only united but one, “Esprit de corps”. We visited our parish and the training centre called “Bupe Mulenga”. The few Christians who were at the parish appreciated our visit talking to us in the local language with their hospitality and generosity.

We are grateful to the Almighty God for bringing us together as one family. Moreover, we acknowledge the efforts made by the sector for supporting us in any kind of needs, and we thank the hosting community (Frs. Piet and Franciszek) for their hospitality and kindness towards us.

Oath and Diaconate in Merrivale, December 15, 2017


18 New Missionaries of Africa

On Friday 15th December at 4:30 pm, in the beautifully decorated chapel of the Merrivale Formation House in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa, eighteen young men were officially received in the Society of the Missionaries of Africa by pronouncing their Missionary Oath. Many relatives and friends had come from near and far to pray with them and witness this serious life commitment of these generous new confreres. Their Oath was received by Fr. Didier Sawadogo, M.Afr, one of the Assistants to the Superior General. The Provincial of the Southern Africa Province, Fr. Felix Phiri, M.Afr, as well as the Provincial Delegate for South Africa, Fr. Raymond McQuarrie, M.Afr, were also present. The occasion was also enhanced by the presence of Bishop Jan De Groef, M.Afr of Bethlehem Diocese (South Africa) and Bishop Sanctus Lino of Nebbi Diocese in Uganda.

Our new confreres are: Maurice Aduol (Kenya), Jean-Pierre Badjanga Titi (DR Congo), Jean-Paul Basikaba (DR Congo), Stephen Beru (Ghana), Ryan Contamina (Philippines), Philippe Dakono (Mali), Siby Dominic (India), Francis Eze (Nigeria), Eric Kambale (DR Congo), Christopher Nkandu (Zambia), Silas Nsambimana (Burundi), Robert Ouedraogo (Burkina Faso), Justin Ramde (Burkina Faso), Elie Sango (DR Congo), Victor Sanou (Burkina Faso), Martin Somda (Burkina Faso), Jean-Baptiste Todjro (Togo) and Pierre Chanel Ulama (DR Congo).

New Miss SA 1918 New Priests for 2018!

This makes a lot of 18’s! What a wonderful gift for our jubilee year, our 150 years of foundation!

Indeed, the day after the Missionary Oath, on 16th December, in St. Vincent Parish Kwampumuza in South Africa, we had the pleasure to celebrate the ordinations to the diaconate of the same eighteen new confreres for the Missionaries of Africa and two others for the Dominicans (O.P.).

Cardinal Wilfrid Napier, ofm, Archbishop of Durban Archdiocese, presided the celebration assisted by Bishop Jan De Groef, Bishop Sanctus Lino of Nebbi Diocese in Uganda and over fifteen priests.  Everything went smoothly with the enthusiastic and brilliant participation of the local parish choir, the altar servers and all the other liturgical ministers.

After the four-hour celebration, the parishioners, under the wise leadership of their parish councillors, treated everybody to a delicious meal and to some great entertainments. This parish was recently taken by the Missionaries of Africa and we find the people very responsive and generous. They organised everything and contributed not only their time and energy but also all the food and drinks for this great occasion. Great! Siyabonga kakulu! (Thank you very much!)

God’s Family Is Expanding!

By Deacon Jean-Baptiste Todjro, M.Afr.

I was glad when I heard them say let us go to the house of the Lord’ Ps 122: 1. These words mark the beginning of our immediate preparation for our Missionary Oath and Diaconate Ordination. Indeed great was our joy to be accepted into the family of the Missionaries of Africa.

One word was echoed strongly throughout the celebration of our Missionary Oath and Diaconate Ordination: FAMILY. Prior to the celebration of the oath, Didier Sawadogo, representing the Superior General, presented to us the message of the General Council by giving to each of us the positive affirmation of our Society which states: ‘Filled with the joy of the Gospel and guided by the Spirit, we are an intercultural missionary society with a family spirit. Sent out to the African world and wherever our charism is needed, for a prophetic mission of encounter and of witness to the love of God’ (Capitular Acts 2016:17). It is with this sense of belonging and willingness that we responded YES to the call of God and the desire of making God’s love known and flourish in the African world. The word FAMILY was at the heart of the homily of Cardinal Wilfrid Napier who in addressing us insisted that we have to participate in the mission of the Church and identify the challenges that families are facing as our primary mission in collaboration with the universal Church. As such one can boldly say we are ordained to be APOSTLES TO FAMILIES, NOTHING BUT APOSTLES TO FAMILIES.

We wish to thank all those who made this event possible: our community, our formators and provinces of origin who believed we can contribute positively to the Mission of Jesus Christ within the Society of the Missionaries of Africa. Our gratitude also goes to you, our parents, friends and confreres who graced this event with your presence or with a thought or a prayer. Please, continue praying for us and supporting us.

Please remember us and all missionaries of Africa with this hymn that served as a procession and entrance hymn during our Missionary Oath:

À vous mes chers Missionnaires d’Afrique, l’amour est notre unique vocation. Dieu nous envoie en Afrique en mission, pour proclamer par notre vie son Amour. Aimons-nous d’un amour tendre et fidèle, soyons apôtres et rien que cela. Soyons unis pour que la vie soit plus belle, allons sans peur vers notre Dieu qui nous appelle. Nous sommes la présence, du Dieu de l’alliance. Qui nous parle dans le silence, Dieu d’amour et d’espérance. Nous sommes sa présence, ici en Afrique. Qui proclame ses merveilles, Dieu d’amour et d’un nouveau jour.

We are the presence, of God in Africa. Who speaks to us in the silence, God of love and God of hope. We are God’s presence, here in Africa. That proclaims God’s great deeds, God of love and of a new day.

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Documentary Video: The Earth Our Home – conservation for integrity of creation


Documentary Video LaunchBy Romaric Bationo, M.Afr

FENZA organised and hosted the launch of the documentary video “The Earth Our Home: conservation for integrity of creation” by Fr Venerato Babaine, the Provincial Delegate of the Missionaries of Africa in Zambia. The event was held at FENZA multipurpose hall on 28th October 2017 from 14:00 to 16:30.

The launch was attended by dozens of people, including Missionaries of Africa, some religious, friends of FENZA and people who heard of the event. Considering the publicity that preceded the launch, and the invitations that were extended to various people and organisations, the attendance was rather below expectation. Among the distinguished guests there were Fr Thomas Banda, the Diocesan Pastoral Coordinator of Lusaka Archdiocese, and Fr Felix Phiri, the Provincial of the Missionaries of Africa in Southern Africa, who was also a keynote speaker.

In his opening speech, Fr Babaine spoke of the events that inspired him to embark in the production of the video. He disclosed that it is a combination of his childhood experience in Uganda, his missionary journeys in many countries of Africa and Europe, and the “cry of the Earth” that led him to the making of the documentary. He also said that he drew inspiration from the recent encyclical of Pope Francis, “Laudato Si”. In his speech, Fr. Babaine explained the purpose of the documentary. He said that the purpose of the video is to show the beauty of nature in Zambia, and to alert people on the devastation of this beautiful countryside due to human activity and lack of care. He said that the exciting thing about the documentary is that it exposed the exemplary efforts of conservation that are undertaken by many people and organisations in parts of Zambia.

Fr Felix Phiri in his address expanded on the place of creation in the Christian faith teaching and tradition. He explained how the integrity of creation has gained attention in the Church’s mission in the last decades and that it cannot be overlooked anymore today. He cited examples of concerns for the earth and creation from other religions. He concluded by commending Fr Babaine for producing the documentary, which he said is timely and would be another contribution to the care of the earth.

The producer of the video, the Catholic Media Services (CMS), was also given an opportunity to address the audience. Speaking on behalf of the director of CMS, Mr Mwamainda said that the CMS was delighted to produce yet another documentary for the Catholic pastoral work. Helping the Catholic Church, and pastoral workers to evangelise through the media, he said, is their vocation; and they are looking forward to being called upon for more such endeavours.

After these speeches, the video was ceremoniously launched; and the audience could view the documentary. This was followed by a short discussion. Most contributors welcomed the video and recommended it to be used in gatherings, schools and various forums as a tool to promote the care for creation. One intervener suggested that the content of the video to be put on other media such as YouTube for a wider reach.

It was another interesting event at FENZA, attended by concerned and supportive friends of the earth. “The Earth Our Home” is a short and easy-to-watch movie which combines a show of the beautiful nature in Zambia, a public education on the environment and a presentation of laudable works of conservation, which aims to inspire people to care for the earth, our home.

The DVD is available for purchase at FENZA and at the Missionaries of Africa Provincial House, for K50.

Venerato Babaine, M.Afr, DVD Producer – November 01, 2017.

Training session of Development Committees (DCs) of Anglophone Provinces in Africa.


Kampala 01BBy Jos Kuppens, M.Afr

I was asked to try and record in the form of an article what we have been going through here in Kampala, close to the place where young Kizito, Charles Lwanga and  companions and  Mapera were walking, praying, suffering and gave their life.

So, what to start with? The reality that we as a group of missionaries are slowly living on our reserves to survive? A bit like sheep in winter, having eaten all summer and having built up reserves the sheep will, to a large extent, live on these reserves in winter. Or that in quite a few communities we are able to take care of ourselves using the income produced by our various ministries? Or the initiative of raising rabbits in the community where I live (they do multiply as rabbits!! following a now famous quote). Or the last Chapter where our confrere capitulants raised the alarm on the fact that we need to ensure that we can continue our mission well into the future by becoming proactive in looking for resources and start Income Generating Projects (IPGs).

Our last Chapter charged the General Council to look into Income Generating Initiatives / Projects for the society. Not that nothing was ever done in this regard. We have had initiatives that were mainly centred in the Northern Hemisphere. More recently we have had some initiatives in Africa that operated on a trial and error basis, while some were quite successful. But more often than not the enthusiasm about starting such projects was high but was not matched by corresponding success rates. Hence the need for a more professional approach. Thus the calling into being of a team of confreres (mainly treasurers) who worked with experts in the field of Project Management for Income Generation Projects. They produced a book of guidelines to steer our Income Generation Projects on a more professional course. Using this resource book (Guidelines for ), about 20 of us coming from various Anglophone Provinces in Africa were ‘workshopped’ into the rather complex matter of the Income Generation Projects cycle, using the concrete example of construction of hostel.

The Three phased approach

We were taken through three different phases. They seem very logical and simple. Planning, Implementing of plans and operating the result of our effort: the planned building. In the diocese where I am now the Christians have decided to start a project to build a cathedral. They have decided to do it professionally. The workshop in Kampala has helped me to understand a bit better what it means to work professionally to construct a building as it did for all the participants.

Phase one

What is it that we are supposed to do? All together as missionaries of Africa we need to wake up to the fact that things are not the same as they used to be. At all times there seemed to be enough funding to do our work, to train our candidates, to venture into new missionary challenges. Well, that time is definitely finished.  So all of us are asked to do the needful, like: budget, implement budgets, raise funds to meet the shortfalls, generally to live more according to our means.

So this common effort will underlie all of the other efforts for which the society has now put in place Development Committees, at the level of the Sectors and the Province, with, in the future, a coordinating office in Rome.

The Sector Council will appoint two members to the Sector Development Committee (SDC) to work with the confrere who is part of the provincial development committee and participated in the training. In order to help all of us in our Sectors to be part and parcel of this process, some mini seminars will be organized at the occasion of Sector Assemblies. This will assist in understanding the basics of managing IGPs and in finding some of the opportunities and potential ideas for IGPs. This will help the SDCs to identify some projects in their Sector. These should be developed up to a point where it will be clear that the eventual income is worth the investment. These committees will work on the following points:

  • Is the idea sound, has it been tried elsewhere; how does it fit in with our lifestyle?
  • What are the competitive advantages, its potential and uniqueness?
  • What are the project goals?
  • Who are the beneficiaries?
  • Map out the stakeholders/ competitors/ operators.
  • Point out the potential risks/ success factors.
  • Included a rough draft of what it will cost.

 The end result of this will be cast in the form of a Draft Concept Paper in which already some analysis is done and the project classification of the IGP is also determined. The Sector council will look at this concept, have its input and approve it to be sent to the Provincial Development Committee (PDC). There it will be examined and worked on further in order to send it to the Provincial Treasurer and Provincial Council.  They in turn will examine the draft concept and after deliberation (with some possible modifications) approve it to be sent to the General Treasurer and the Financial Council in Rome. Once reviewed, it will go to the General Council. The General Council will be the one to either approve the concept or shelve/ archive it.

If approved

They will give it the “Go for Plan” signal. We are speaking about potential projects between 150 and 500 thousand Euro.

In depth planning

It will now be the task of the PDC to go deeper into the planning stage. The GC will release a small budget to assist in the planning because it will involve hiring the expertise needed to do a professional plan.

In the ‘Go for Plan’ stage the already gathered information will be further worked out and new documents will be added. One of the main ones is a Business Plan, which includes a market survey and financial projection. Ownership, administration, organization are mapped out. Risks are analysed.   A detailed explanation of all this can be found in the new guidelines. All these preparations are done to give the PC, Treasurer General and his Financial Council and the GC all the tools they need to actually give the final go ahead or shelve it. As one can see little or nothing is left to chance.

The ‘Go / or No Go’

Kampala 02CFirst of all the decision will be published. If the project is approved a project team is setup. Accounts are created. A project structure is elaborated. A project manager may be appointed. (Sub)-Contractors will be found. Contracts will be negotiated. All this is then submitted to a thorough scrutiny which in the planning lingo is called a ‘quality gate’. If it passes here the project is now ready for Phase 2: the implementation stage.

If the decision is ‘no go’ all results are archived, all activities and accounts are closed. Documentation submitted to GC.

Phase two: the implementation stage

Most likely the Project Committee will now become the Management Committee. They are responsible to see to it that the Project Manager has all he needs. Legal experts may need to be involved. Risks need to be shared equally between contractors and MAFrs. Sub-contractors will agree to delivery dates, work out more concrete plans. Efforts are made to create a good understanding between all those involved so they communicate properly and at regular intervals.

It is now important to control the project. The actual versus planned status of the project is regularly worked out. This includes use of resources, use of budget. In all this the Project Manager, (Financial Manager, Quality and Risk Manager, if needed for the project) and the Project Management Committee divide the work.

Reporting up to the Treasurer General is required when the variance of actual expenditure with the budget exceeds 10 %. When the project has been finalised all accounts are closed.

The last ‘quality gate’ is the handover of the finished project (building, hostel, etc.) to the operator who has been identified already even in Phase 1.

 This leads us to the Third Phase which is the operation of the project.

Phase Three: successful operation of the project

The final points that need attention are shared with the Operational Team. All documentation is also shared with them as well as technical know-how such as maintenance schedules and warranties. The Management Committee and the Operational Committee visit the site together and finally the handover can be done with some sort of celebration.

The Provincial Treasurer will now be in charge of supervising the operations but may delegate the Provincial Delegate or the Treasurer Delegate. Now on a yearly basis the operational profit will for 80% go to the province, while 20% will be saved for maintenance and repairs.

Kampala 08BConclusion

The project journey has been painstakingly prepared, implemented and the success rate should be high. In other words our IGP guidelines are of a quality that should guarantee a good success rate. The future of our mission will in that way be better guaranteed than it is now. At the end of the workshop the participants in the workshop were still apprehensive about the complexity of the whole cycle, but did give their wholehearted approval to the process and started already to plan how to implement it in each Province.

In the place, which is steeped in history and tradition of the best kind, the place of martyrdom of the martyrs of Uganda, the same Society of Missionaries of Africa that brought father ‘Mapera’ to Uganda, started charting a new course to support the very same Mission that was crowned by the faith of the martyrs.

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Project Cycle Meeting in Kampala

Death of Father Guy Bourgeois, M.Afr in Canada, formally in Malawi and in South Afrika.


Guy Bourgeois copieFather Gilles Barrette, Provincial of the Americas, informs you of the death of Father Guy Bourgeois, M.Afr. He died on October 23, 2017, in Joliette (Canada), at the age of 82 years of which 58 of missionary life in Malawi, France, South Africa and Canada.

Let us pray for the repose of his soul.

01/01/1966 Learning the language at Mzimba, Mzuzu Diocese, Malawi.

28/09/1966 Curate at Lunyangwa, Mzuzu Diocese, Malawi.

01/02/1968 Parish Priest at Lunyangwa, Mzuzu Diocese, Malawi.

01/07/1969 Parish Priest at St Peter’s, Mzuzu Diocese, Malawi.

16/10/1970 Formation House at Strasbourg France.

01/06/1974 Nomination to Malawi.

01/09/1975 Regional in Malawi.

01/01/1976 Parish Priest at Rumphi, Mzuzu Diocese, Malawi.

01/01/1981 In charge; Senekal South, Africa.

01/01/1982 In charge; Phuthaditjhaba, South Africa.

01/01/1986 In charge; Bohlokong, South Africa.

01/01/1987 Parish Priest at KwaNdebele, South Africa.

17/11/1993 Parish Priest at Tweefontein, KwaNdebele, South Africa.

01/12/1998 Curate at Orange Farm, Johannesburg Diocese, South Africa.

21/02/2008 Nomination to Diepsloot, South Africa.

01/06/2010 Nomination to Canada.

Mafrwestafrica lettre du 19 octobre 2017


Mafrwestafrica logoAujourd’hui, les Missionnaires d’Afrique de l’Ouest vous proposent de visiter de nouvelles pages sur leur site http://www.mafrwestafrica.net.

Actualités

« Au Burkina, Bassolé sorti de prison » le général Djibrill Bassolé, assigné à résidence, reçoit les premières visites depuis sa sortie de prison. La nouvelle résidence de l’ex-patron de la diplomatie burkinabè est sous haute sécurité (lire la suite).

« Mali, lutter contre le terrorisme » Trois jours de discussion au Mali pour essayer de mutualiser la lutte contre le terrorisme et la criminalité transfrontalière (lire la suite).

« CEDEAO lutter contre le terrorisme » le centre sous-régional d’alerte précoce a été inauguré samedi 14 octobre à Bamako par les chefs d’Etat du Mali et du Togo (lire la suite).

« Attentat en Somalie » les dernières nouvelles au sujet de cet attentat innommable qui a fait au moins 300 morts et 300 blessés (lire la suite).

Témoignages 

« Un immigré écrit à un missionnaire » un texte traduit de l’italien qui exprime de qu’attendent des missionnaires les personnes vivant difficilement leur état d’immigrés. (lire la suite).

« De Mgr Claude Rault à Mgr John Mac William »  dans Voix d’Afrique cet article qui nous parle de L’ancien évêque de Ghardaïa et de son successeur (lire la suite).

« Une cinéaste burkinabè » Eléonore Yameogo tient à rencontrer les confrères dans les maisons de retraite pour les écouter exprimer leur vécu en Afrique (lire la suite).

« Un prêtre de Kaya (Burkina) nommé en France » L’abbé Eloi Bamogo est maintenant en France depuis la fin du mois d’août et a envoyé quelques nouvelles (lire la suite).

Histoire

« Qui a tué Sankara il y a 30 ans ? » sur le site de Jeune Afrique beaucoup d’éléments en lien avec cet assassinat. Naviguer sur le site… (lire la suite).

«  Sankara sur le site RFI » une présentation à la fois semblable et différente de ce qui est proposé sur le site de Jeune Afrique. Intéressant. D’autres éléments à venir sous peu (lire la suite).

Dialogue interreligieux

« Une femme insoumise » un roman qui présente deux mondes et surtout deux cultures, qui séparent les Belgo-marocains et les Belges de souche (lire la suite).

« Le pardon dans l’islam et la foi chrétienne » des citations et des liens internet pour mieux découvrir ce qu’est le pardon pour un musulman ou un chrétien (lire la suite).

« Synode chaldéen et pape François » l’accueil que le pape a réservé au synode de l’Eglise chaldéenne en encourageant ces chrétiens à ne pas se décourager malgré les difficultés dues à la guerre (lire la suite).

Justice et Paix

« Relations Europe-Afrique » Les relations entre l’U.E. et l’Afrique subsaharienne sont actuellement régies par l’accord de Cotonou, qui jette les bases des relations entre l’Union et les 78 pays appartenant au groupe ACP  (lire la suite).

« Macron et la migration ? » La France s’est engagée lundi 9 octobre à offrir 3 000 places aux réfugiés du Niger et du Tchad. Quelles seront les conditions et les conséquences ? (lire la suite).

« Migrants en Espagne » le témoignage d’un confrère missionnaire d’Afrique espagnol engagé dans l’accueil des migrants au sud du pays (lire la suite).

« ATD Quart Monde en Afrique » il y a 60 ans que cette association a été fondée, et le 17 octobre 2017, est aussi le 30e anniversaire de la Journée mondiale du refus de la misère que l’association a instaurée (lire la suite).

Vu au Sud – Vu du Sud

« Coup d’état 2015 au Burkina »  le site Mediapart revient sur cet événement, le putsh manqué de septembre 2015, et sur le rôle qu’aurait joué la Côte d’Ivoire (lire la suite).

« Toujours contestation au Togo » Après une semaine d’accalmie, l’opposition annonce de nouvelles manifestations les mercredi 18 et jeudi 19 octobre (lire la suite).

« Titre de séjour en Côte d’Ivoire » La feuille de papier vert plastifiée d’une durée de 12 mois va laisser place à un document biométrique format carte de paiement effectif pendant cinq ans. (lire la suite).

« Accident d’avion en Côte d’Ivoire » cet avion affrété par Barkhane, s’est écrasé sur la plage de Port-Bouët, à Abidjan, le 14 octobre 2017 (lire la suite).

« Ouattara et Soro en Côte d’Ivoire » ces deux personnages sont-ils sur la route de la réconciliation et du travail en commun ? (lire la suite).

« Procès Boko Haram au Nigéria » les premières condamnations sont tombées vendredi 13 octobre dans le procès de masse concernant près de 1 670 membres présumés de Boko Haram (lire la suite).

Human trafficking in Ghana!


NyankpalaBy Patrick Kalonji Kadima, Stagiaire in Nyankpala, Ghana.

I am Patrick Kalonji Kadima, Congolese born in 1990. I have five sisters and one brother. Of my parents, only my father is still alive. I grew up in Kinshasa but migrated with my family in South Africa and in Lesotho. I did part of my secondary education in DR Congo and then in South Africa. I joined the Missionaries of Africa few years ago. I am currently doing my pastoral apostolic training years in St. Monica Parish, Nyankpala, within the Metropolitan Archdiocese of Tamale in Ghana.

Human trafficking in Ghana!

On Friday 29th September 2017, the Missionaries of Africa and the Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Africa in Tamale gathered at the provincial house for a talk on human trafficking. The talk was given as part of our ongoing preparations towards the celebration of the 150th anniversary of our foundation (1868/69 – 2018/19). One will remember that from the 11th November 2012 to the 8th September 2013 the two institutes of our Lavigerie family celebrated the 125th Anniversary of the Anti-Slavery Campaign of our founder Cardinal Lavigerie. This celebration paved the way for the campaign against human trafficking which is one of the forms of modern slavery that our mother land, Africa, faces daily. The fight against human trafficking is part and parcel of our commitment to Justice & Peace and Encounter-Dialogue (JPIC-ED) which the Ghana-Nigeria Link has called us to share upon. It is following that call that I propose the few lines underscoring the talk we had at the provincial house on human trafficking.

Clement Wie Tuureh copieFather Clement Wie Tuureh, M.Afr, gave us an introduction for the reason of our gathering. This short introduction allowed the presenter, Mr. Abdulai Danaah, the Executive Director of the Centre for Initiative Against Human Trafficking (CIAHT), to begin his talk under the topic: ‘What is Human Trafficking, the Causes and Effects and Strategies Action Plans to End Human Trafficking in the Northern Region of the Republic of Ghana.’

Centre for Initiative Against Human Trafficking (CIAHT)What Is Human Trafficking?

It was discovered during the talk that most people are unaware or unconscious of such a reality called human trafficking. This is simply due to the lack of knowledge of what is involved in human trafficking.

Accordingly, the speaker gave us this definition: “The United Nations has defined human trafficking as “the recruitment, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons by threat or use of force.” He, furthermore, argued: “Similarly, the U.S. State Department’s Trafficking Victims Protection Act 2000 describes severe forms of trafficking as: (a) sex trafficking in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such an act has not attained 18 years of age; or (b) the recruitment, harbouring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labour or services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery”; similar practices being the removal of organs. With the above, the presenter made us aware on how to confirm if a situation can be called human trafficking, one has to consider all the elements that make the situation to be called “human trafficking”.

Elements of Human Trafficking

The elements of human trafficking are: the act, the means and the purpose. First, concerning the act, the presenter made us understand that it is about ‘what is done’, meaning to say, is it recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons? And when it comes to the means, we have to bear in mind ‘how it is done’, meaning to say, is it a threat or use of force, coercion, abduction, fraud, deception, abuse of power or vulnerability, or making payments or benefits to a person in control of the victim. Then last, concerning the purpose we looked at ‘why it is done’, meaning to say, is it for the purpose of exploitation, which includes exploiting the prostitution of others, sexual exploitation, forced labour, slavery or similar practices and the removal of organs.

Those who were present soon realised that they have encountered situations related to human trafficking where they live here in Ghana.

Human Trafficking in Ghana

In his presentation, the presenter mentioned to us that globally speaking 600 thousand to four million people are being trafficked and the majority in this estimation are women and children.

The presenter informed us that Ghana as a country is faced with the challenges of human trafficking; men, women, and children are subject to trafficking mostly in forced labour and sex trafficking.

It was clear in the speaker’s presentation that most people within the country in Ghana do not have the knowledge of human trafficking; and misunderstand the move of human trafficking to migration of one local area to another. Therefore, Ghanaian girls and young adults who move around in search of work from one rural area to another or from one rural to an urban area or community are easily exposed to traffickers.

Another way, in which Ghana is faced with this evil of human trafficking, is that, Ghana has become to some degree a target point for traffickers. Girls are been sent to Europe, America and some other African countries with the hope to have domestic jobs but later they are being brained-washed deceived into forced labour, some work and receive unfair wages, others are abused or forced into prostitution.

Invitation to Campaign Against Human Trafficking

In his invitation to fight human trafficking, the presenter reminded us to be careful as religious and moral figures on how to proceed to fight this evil in the various communities where we live or do our apostolate. In as much as we may wish to reduce or getting rid of this evil by conducting public awareness and informing the public. The traffickers are studying our movements. They are establishing networks and developing new systems to their favours. Again the presenter informed us that the government of Ghana have not yet enforced the law as such that will bring traffickers to justice in most of the cases and protect the victims. Another obstacle that may come our way as we fight human trafficking is that the victims themselves in most cases are not aware that they are being trafficked.

At the end of this talk, I remembered vividly how in 2014 I took part in a play we produced as students of philosophy in Balaka, Malawi, to bring awareness to the public (in schools, parishes and at a conference) on the issues of slavery and human trafficking. It is my prayer and hope that more of these events be encouraged. I wish to invite all of us to be creative and continue participating in the campaign to fight against all forms of modern slavery. “Let us break the chains!

Human tra Malawi 01