Searching for the identity of the Missionaries of Africa in Dombe


Bernhard WernkeI am living now over a year at the Mission in Dombe. I call it charmingly “little Brazil”. At the Mission are four different groups: Fazenda da Esperança, Obra de Maria, Pequenas Missionárias Pequenas de Maria Imaculada and the Missionários de África. We the Missionaries of Africa are the only community composed of different nationalities. The others are all from Brazil. Reflecting on the living together with these communities I started reflecting about our Identify (common vision) as the Missionaries of Africa.
Dombe-Mission is a remote and rural place about 5 km from the commercial center Dombe-Sede. It has a secondary school, a clinic, a boarding school for boys and girls and a center for alcohol and drug addicts. The Missionaries of Africa serving 26 Christian communities.
Living at the Mission you see the students, people who are consulting the clinic, but rarely Christians visiting the Fathers. It might be because of the remote location. It might be because we have not yet settled down, because the community was completed at Easter this year. How can our identity as the Missionaries of Africa be reflected in the Parish / Mission? Or does our identity have an integrative impact on the live of the people and the mission personal? If one would define the Missionaries of Africa, you would hear answers like that: they are living in international communities, working in and for the African Church, doing justice and peace and working with Islam. Our basic priority in Dombe is evangelization and building up of Christian communities. Is this part of our identity, when one looks into our priorities? How do our priorities, our identity and common vision go together, when Catechesis is almost forgotten? For me it is via catechesis that we can reach most of the people in the parish community. I digitalized a catechism for adults and a prayer book, printed it and distributed it to the communities. Until now I’m still waiting for a corrective response.
Are we here to follow the will of the people, or are we building up in a constructive process parish communities with the basic ministries functioning? In order to have a living parish we need to build up structures on the organizational level: functioning and living Christian communities, pastoral zones and finally a functioning parish council and an administrative financial body. We are far from it, but on the way to it. We are still on a long road, but we see this lamps lit up. The Christians are willing to work with us and welcomed us. There is a lot of hope among us that we will succeed. Building up of Christian communities is hard work. It is a like a field which needs to be worked in: working the field, sowing, planting and weeding. A farmer is identified as a farmer because of his work. What is our common vision in relation to the work of evangelization? Does our charisma push us to work in this direction?
A community is identified and unified by its common project based on prayer, the experiences of so many missionaries and our documents. Too many visions do not unify a community and a community will not have an integrative and challenging aspect to our surrounding, if we are not united by the common vision (identity) of the Missionaries of Africa. The search continues and thanks to our community project we will see a good united community in their apostolic approach.
A blessed Advent time.
Bernhard Wernke, M.Afr

2 thoughts on “Searching for the identity of the Missionaries of Africa in Dombe

  1. Pingback: Jubilees of confreres who were or still are in SAP – 2015 | Missionaries of Africa – SAP Province

  2. Pingback: Fazenda Da Esperança (Farm of Hope), Philippines | Missionaries of Africa – SAP Province

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