First Lady Lays First Stone for New Cathedral in Goma, DRCongo


By Evan Chama, Goma, M.Afr
First Lady laysMadam Marie Olive Lembe, wife of the President of the Republic of Democratic of Congo, Joseph Kabila, laid the first stone for the construction of the new Cathedral for the diocese of Goma, East of Congo.
This took place on Sunday, 19th January 2014, after the mass presided by the Bishop of Goma, Theophile Kaboy, at the site of the construction.
Construction of the Cathedral, a still-born project for years, has received new impetus thanks to the First Lady who has taken a leading role in raising funds. Last year, 11th September, Madam Olive made a pilgrimage to Rome where she met Pope Francis and commended Congo to his prayers for peace in the country. In the letter she addressed to the Pope Madam Olive also promised to commit herself, together with Catholics of Goma, to construct a new Cathedral.
Since then, she has been tirelessly knocking on the doors of various business houses in Congo, members of her family, friends and politicians for donations. At the ceremony, she was able to present to the bishop what she had so far collected, an undisclosed sum that amounts to the 45% of the total budget.
The First Lady challenged the faithful not to fold arms in the illusion that she alone will source the funds. She will certainly continue to do her part, but every Christian was supposed to work hard and put in whatever little they have. That is why she described the boldness to begin this project in the midst of limited funds as “an act of faith” that however will be realized with the help of God himself and with the determination of everyone.
The need for new Cathedral rose when the old one was burnt down by the volcano that erupted on 17th January in 2002. The cathedral will be constructed at a site some 10 km in the outskirts of Goma, in an area called Keshero, following the expansion pattern of the town of Goma.
The old Cathedral whose walls remained intact is also under renovation, thanks to one well-wisher who was concerned about the desecration of this holy place that remained abandoned and transformed into a training ground for karate and judo. Marketeers also used the area for drying foodstuffs for sale. Once the renovation is completed, the bishop announced, this old Cathedral will be a lieu for perpetual adoration.
Appreciating that Madam Olive Lembe is staunch and prayerful Catholic, the bishop gave her a gift of a breviary –a book for daily prayer used mainly by priests and religious.
The new Cathedral will be called “Our Lady of Peace” (Maria, Mama wa Amani). The First Lady is also called Mary, the bishop made the allusion.

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