My dear Friends, Greetings! I hope you are well. Today, as you receive this NEWSLETTER, most of us M.Afr are travelling to Merrivale, our house of formation, for two great celebrations. Indeed, six of our candidates will take their Missionary Oath tomorrow, Friday, and thus become fully fledged Missionaries of Africa. The following day, they will be ordained deacons! After their last year of theology, sometime toward the end of next year, they shall be ordained priests in their respective parishes of origin. But this being such an important occasion, some of their relatives have travelled to attend these two great events. Already yesterday, the parents and a nephew of our Tanzanian deacon-to-be, Konrad, arrived from Dar-es-Salaam. This afternoon, I will be driving with them to Merrivale. The others are Albert from Burkina Faso, Alphonse from Rwanda, Robin from Zambia, Damian from Uganda and Douglas from Kenya. I hope that we will have one or two good photos of them in the next Newsletter. You may be asking yourself “What is a missionary oath?” Well, here is a short explanation. We, Missionaries of Africa, are not a “religious congregation” as such. We are a “society of apostolic life” and we also live the three evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity and obedience; but we do not take vows. We promise to live a simple life style (poverty, or freedom from things), obedience to our superiors (freedom to serve), and chastity (freedom to love) in our missionary oath – which is a solemn promise on the Bible. Here is an extract of the text of our missionary oath: “… I promise and swear to the Superior General of the Society fidelity and obedience… to observe celibacy for the sake of the Kingdom.” I therefore ask you to keep in your prayers these six new Missionaries of Africa.
I hope this month has been a blessed one for each of you. In spite of all the upheavals happening in the world, the students’ strikes and violent demonstrations, we can see some positive signs of life here and there in our society and throughout the world. Pope Francis is now in Kenya since yesterday. His coming to Africa – his first one – is under the sign of hope and peace to our broken world. Everywhere he goes, he brings a refreshing touch of joy, the joy of the Gospel. Let us pray that his visit in Kenya, then in Uganda and finally in the Central African Republic will sow seeds of peace among these nations of Africa and at the same time, be an inspiration to the rest of the world.
Today is “Lavigerie Day”: yes, for us Missionaries of Africa and Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Africa (MSOLA), we celebrate this as our FOUNDER’S DAY. Please, pray for us and for vocations. Thank you!
In a few days, we shall start a new liturgical year, the year of the Church. The time of Advent is really an occasion for opening up to Jesus and our neighbours. Many people nowadays like to wish us “happy holiday” and they have forgotten the reason for the season: Jesus! When they greet you like this, be proud to answer firmly and proudly: HAPPY CHRISTMAS!
Wishing you all a prayerful Advent and a very HAPPY CHRISTMAS!
Fr. Michael Meunier, M.Afr