Ordained on Saturday 20/8/2016 by the Apostolic Nuncio to Ghana, His Excellency Most Rev. Jean-Marie Speich, at Christ the King Parish, Sandema, Fr Mathew W. Banseh, M.Afr led us to the altar of the Lord as he presided for the first time over the Eucharistic celebration at Our Lady of Seven Sorrows Minor Basilica, Navrongo on Sunday 21/8/2016. May you shine in the Lord’s vineyard!
Fr Banseh has been appointed to the parish of Lumimba, Zambia.
Dear Brothers and Sisters Greeting from afar!!! Ghana, Tamale in Nyankpala, where I am appointed for pastoral experience. I arrived in Ghana on 19th July, and so far I am just observing. Let me give you first an idea of what this period of pastoral experience is all about and then update you with what I have been doing so far, and what I will do, before I start swimming fully in these two years of pastoral experience.
The aim of these two years is to train me and prepare me for missionary life. These are years when the apostolic and pastoral components (working with youth, community development, various visits to the local people, catechism classes, to mention but a few) are predominant. The main task is for the apostolate, as well as a time of discernment. It will be a time of test to see if I have the necessary qualities to live a missionary life. This is by being a disciple of Jesus in the society of the Missionaries of Africa. Moreover, it is still a period of confirmation of the choice I made during my spiritual year. Briefly, those few lines give you a picture of what the period of pastoral experience is all about.
So far I have been assigned to a community in Tamale, Nyankpala. It is made of four members, two confrere-priests, John Amona (Ghana) and Gazena Haile (Ethiopia) and one who is in his second year of pastoral experience, Martial Kedem (Burkina-Faso). The four of us, from different parts of Africa, form a community of Missionaries of Africa in Nyankpala.
From September 4th I will be going for my cultural classes (to learn the culture of the local people). This will last for a month. Thereafter, I will be sent to one of the families in the village, to learn the local language and to deepen my knowledge of the local culture. Last Sunday I went to the Ordination of Fr. Mathew Benze in Bolgatanga. This is where initially I was appointed (my appointment was changed to Nyankpala when I arrived in Accra). I was so happy to meet the big family of the M. Afr. I met Serge Boroto and Amani Dieudonné (who both did their theology in South Africa), and Timothée Bationo (who is in charge of Formation in Chipata, Zambia).
I will update you more as time goes by. I ask for your prayers that I may constantly listen to God’s voice and continue trusting Him in my life. I too, will keep you in my prayers. Happy new month of September! May Christ’s peace be with you all. Your Brother in Christ. Patrick Kalonji Kadima.
Here, we just received a M.Afr student, who will be in South Africa for two years as well, for his pastoral experience. He is now with us in Edenglen, but next week he will go to KwaZulu Natal to join his community in Henley. But before starting to work there, he will go spend at least three months in Assisi, near Port Shepstone to learn IsiZulu. He is from Burkina Faso, and his name is Pascal Sambi. He spent one year with Patrick in Kasama, Zambia, for his novitiate. Welcome, Pascal!
On Saturday, 27th, in St. Patrick’s Parish, Larochelle, a Lay Leaders’ Conference gathered more than 200 people from all parishes of Johannesburg Archdiocese.
Our Missionary Group was given a chance to explain that we must be missionaries not only “ad intra” (among ourselves), but also “ad extra” (outside our own country). I gave a talk in that sense, and also Bishop Jan DeGroef, M.Afr spoke abundantly in this same line. The people were very interested and promised to do their best to foster missionary vocations in their parishes.
We continue to pray for missionary vocations. Our Lady of the Assumption, (whom we just celebrated last Sunday) please, pray for us and with us for more young men to answer generously the call your Son. Amen! Fr. Michel Meunier, M.Afr
Woodlands community invited the confreres and MSOLA Sisters to say goodbye to Christopher, Emmanuel and Robert on Wednesday night the 24th August. In a simple way, a gift was offered to Christopher who is on his way to Ghana, appointed to the Formation House in Ejisu. Emmanuel and Robert are travelling tomorrow to Nigeria. We thank them for their ministry in Zambia. We are also happy with them as they are answering their call to the mission. Here are few words sent by confreres who were not physically present at the farewell party but in communion of spirit.
Some Farewell messages:
From Jean-Luc Gouiller:
Christopher, l well remember that we called you back from Ghana to come in your own country for Vocation Animation. It costed you but how could you refuse? It was a good choice for sure. Once finishing it you rushed back to Ghana. But a few years later you were remembered again and got chosen for being Assistant to the Provincial, Fr. Gotthard, for three years, starting in June 2006. But how to flee when something important was to be put in place: the new “SAP”. So you took back the yoke, as Provincial this time, in June 2009, for six years, with no Assistant but with good Provincial Secretaries (first Georges Lauzon and then Serge). Thank you very much Christopher. Our best wishes for your ministry in Ghana. May God bless your work. Greetings to Bishop Richard Baawobr.
Emmanuel, I still see you when you were enjoying your stage in the youth Centre of Kampala. I will not forget either your Ordination in Mansa. Ready to go on. Time has passed since then. Circumstances have brought you back for some years to your own country. Congratulations for taking up the Vocation work in Serenje, helping more young people to join the missionary venture. You are still young. You go to a new country, the biggest of Africa. I passed there once coming back from home leave. Nigeria is like a bee hive, full of people indeed. Our best wishes. United in the Lord.
Robert, you are ready to leave Lusaka and Zambia for a new experience, this time in Nigeria, like Emmanuel. We wish you God’s blessings. We often hear about Nigeria, a bustling country. We wish you to witness that in spite of our differences, including in religion, we can live together.
From Dave Cullen:
It would be a great joy for me to be with you but it would need a miracle of healing to arrange that. I’m due to meet the consultant on September 2nd about what needs to be done to my fractured leg. Give my very best wishes to all those departing. My prayers and best wishes are with them all. May they find a very fulfilling apostolate where they will be and they will surely be good news for those in their care.
From Piet van Heijst:
Dear Christopher, Emmanuel and Robert, may you travel well and may the Lord bless you in starting again a new period in your lives by going back to your respective missions. Thanks for everything you have been to so many of us when here in Zambia. Remaining united.
As I do every year, I went to greet some Muslims during the Ramadan carrying with me a printed letter of good wishes written by the Pontifical Congregation for Interreligious Dialogue. That afternoon, I went with George Okwii, M.Afr, to visit the Nizamiye mosque that is probably the most welcoming mosque of Gauteng. It belongs to Turquoise Harmony Institute of famous Fethula Gulen accused recently of being the mastermind of a coup d’état in Turkey. Some compare him to Trotsky whereas Erdogan is associated to Stalin.
We arrived during a prayer session. A young guide called Ali took care of us once the prayer was finished. Ali is from Soweto whose parents could not afford to pay for his studies. So he did his primary and secondary studies in the boarding school of Nizamiye. It follows the curriculum of South Africa while its pupils also memorise the Koran in two or three years. After learning all the rituals of Islam, Ali will be able to become an imam though he is following some courses at the university and act as a guide at the mosque.
He received us in a beautiful reception hall made in Ottoman style. He showed us the small museum of the mosque where one can see beautiful pictures about Islam. One of them is a chilly letter from Prophet Mohamed asking some people to convert to Islam or else to be killed! Surely it was as self-defence in an age where interreligious dialogue was unknown. We then proceeded to the courtyard where one can see the lay out of the boarding school upstairs. We entered the mosque where an imam was reciting the Koran to a group of teenagers. The size of the building is about two third of the model in Turkey. Most materials were imported from that country even the builders and the craftsmen.
Then we went to greet Ali Katircioglu, the founder of that mosque. The dialogue was a bit slow since Katircioglu communicates only in Turkish. Our guide Ali went to Turkey to learn that language but he is not yet fluent. We offered him the printed letter of good wishes from Rome written in English. His assistants translated it for him.
We were invited to stay for the breaking of the fast. At ground level, there was a meeting for the Directors of the complex (mosque, school, clinic, shopping centre…) where elaborate food was on display. But we went to eat in the underground where about a hundred ordinary people were sharing simple food on a metallic tray. Some of them are South African Muslims who find it convenient to have their supper there. Others are illegal immigrants who are very grateful to have a free meal.
We went home glad to experience once more that the Holy Spirit moves people of all creeds.
Aujourd’hui, les Missionnaires d’Afrique de l’Ouest vous proposent de visiter de nouvelles pages sur leur site http://www.mafrwestafrica.net.
« Nouvelles du Burkina » en lien avec les inondations dévastatrices et les problèmes liés à l’exploitation de l’or (lire la suite).
« Décès de Mgr Judes Bicaba » le 19 août 2016 à Paris : annonce du décès, et possibilité de retrouver le curriculum vitae de l’évêque du diocèse de Dédougou (lire la suite).
“Soeur Marguerite Delaporte”, une femme missionnaire SMNDA qui a fait sa profession en 1925, a marqué la congrégation par ses responsabilités et ses dons artistiques (lire la suite).
“Confrères décédés récemment et ayant servi dans la PAO” deux confrères, un français et un belge. (lire la suite).
« Attentat de St Etienne de Rouvray » avec la possibilité de se rendre sur le site de la Croix pour l’ensemble du dossier de ce quotidien (lire la suite).
« Notre Dame de la confiance » une chapelle dans un quartier populaire de Paris, où se vivent des expériences de rencontre islamo-chrétiennes (lire la suite).
Justice et Paix
« Mali : Ras Bath libéré sous contrainte » suite aux manifestations qui se sont déroulée pour la libération de ce chroniqueur critique du gouvernement malien (lire la suite).
« Conflit entre agriculteurs et éleveurs dans le Nahouri » un article paru sur le site abcburkina.net et qui relate ces affrontements dans le département de Guiaro (lire la suite).
« Niger : Boko Haram toujours bien présent », des informations prises sur le site de « Jeune Afrique » (lire la suite).
« Mali toujours sous tension », là aussi un article pris sur le site de Jeune Afrique faisant allusion aux combats entre le CMA– dominante touareg- et le Gatia – pro gouvernemental (lire la suite).
Burkinabe, I completed my Novitiate in Kasama last July. I have been appointed to Dombe in Mozambique. It is now over a month that I am waiting for my visa. Documents were sent to Lusaka but sent back again to Mozambique because of further requirements such as certified papers. I must say, it is quite complicated to get a resident visa for that country.
While waiting, I have learnt to be patient. I believe that this experience will help me throughout my missionary life. I am grateful to the whole team of the Provincial house. They have been so good to me. I have seen their dedication in helping me to get my visa. Besides, I feel being part of the community. I lead the prayers in the chapel, ready to help here and there, share my life experience with them. For sure, I feel at home. They took me as their younger brother and I consider them as my elder brothers. After all, missionary life is simple. It is about sharing the same mission rooted in the love of God and each other.
Community prayer, commitments, dedications and warm welcoming to whoever comes in Woodlands bring me happiness though my thoughts are in Mozambique. In other words, I learnt from my confreres the attitude of being available for the mission and to be at the service of others. May God bless us all and bless our mission in SAP Province.
Kwachaaa, kwachaaa! Kwacha na ngweeee! This was a motivating slogan for matches and rallies during the making of the modern Zambia nation acclaiming a new dawn. We expect another dawn after election and the declaration of the winners in the elections. There are wild jubilations and anger and agony in some corners of the nation. An election is a political game whose referee is the Electoral Commission instituted to foresee the entire process. So, we have winners and losers on Zambia political scene. The Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) chairperson Justice Esau Chulu, in the afternoon of Monday August 15, 2016 announced the results. The political atmosphere is charged by joy or anger. During campaigns and shortly before elections one would suspect some violence after elections. During elections and after elections I travelled a cross-section of almost 700km. It has been peaceful. However cases of violence have been reported. Whichever violence and consequential arrests by the law-enforcing institutions like the police and military, would be a matter of lack of personal discipline due to human nature which one would personally be held responsible and face the law. In some quarters especially some compounds in urban areas violence was reported, but again this would be indiscipline in whichever mode it took.
During the campaigns various candidates traversed this land in search of support for their success. Each candidate tried to do as much political mileage as possible to sell his/her manifesto. The nine presidential candidates did their best and indeed the electorate rewarded them accordingly. Not all could emerge the winner. Patriotic Front (PF) headed by Mr. Edgar Chagwa Lungu took the lead of 1,860,877 votes (50.4%) against the main opposition party of Mr. Hakainde Hachilema of United Party for National Development (UPND) with 1,760,347 votes (47.6%). There was one female contender for presidency, Edith Zewelani Nawakwi of Forum Democratic Development (FDD). I opine that she had the best campaign record in manners of debate, political discipline and party manifesto.
During campaigns the electorate kept asking themselves who the best candidate is or who will take it, at whatever level it was. So we have the reality in front of us. The declaration of the winner in presidential race has not gone without dispute. The UPND leader on Friday lodged in a petition in the Constitutional Court of Zambia demanding the nullification of the declaration that President Edgar Lungu and Vice-President Inonge Wina were not validly elected as President and as vice-president- elect of Zambia in last week’s polls. UPND in their petition urge that the president and his vice-elect “did not receive more than fifty percent of the valid votes cast”. Farther that “a declaration of voters’ register was not credible and its non-availability before the election compromised the transparency of the electoral process”. So, Mr. Hakainde Hachilema demand-grain of petition is “a recount, verification and scrutiny of the votes cast in the general election to ascertain the winner of the election and also in order that the same should be done with the rejected votes”.
On Friday, August 19, 2016, the Constitutional Court postponed the scheduled inauguration of the president-elect. The petition and postponement are measures of democracy and good governance.
Many state governments and diplomats have sent in their congratulatory messages to Edgar Lungu as a president-elect of Zambia. The Church Council of Zambia (CCZ) and the Conference of the Catholic Bishops in Zambia (CCBZ) has endorsed the results and appreciated the peaceful atmosphere during elections.
It is a bold record of the Zambian political landscape that politicians and the electorate are excellent at “shifting cultivation” or “nomadic pastoralism”. This means one quickly shifts to where there is likelihood to harvest better or to graze where there are green pastures. The political scenery is marked by political nomads; there has been a lot of moving from one party to another in Zambian party politics. The “Musela pakaba” (those who escape when it is too hot), as the Bemba say, are many in this land. These people have given-in to the “chameleon challenge” as one author recently termed it.
Since Zambia’s growth as a nation, there has been some traces of tribalism or regionalism that affected party loyalty and the pattern of voting for candidates. The political history of Zambia records varying political parties in 1960s. For President Kenneth Kaunda the solution was to enact the one-party political system. Which is he did and ruled the country for 27 years until 1991 when he lost to Fredrick Chiluba in elections. The ever emphasis on unity in Zambia, as evidenced in its motto: “One Zambia, one nation”, alludes to the fact that there is a struggle to unite the citizen. Thus the motto is the urge to that effect. Recently ZNBC, the national broadcaster, adopted the motto as the opening phrase before casting the news. A good reminder to all viewers; unity is essential for national identity and development. The recently ended elections fell into the trap of “regional and tribal voting”. President-elect Edgar Chagwa Lungu during his thanks-giving speech at Woodlands stadium last Tuesday, silenced the “Dununa Reverse” PF propaganda song and stopped mocking the losers in any form, at any time and in any place. This is a sign of a statesman whose agenda is to build a peaceful country, and to unite all citizens irrespective of their political affiliation and party loyalty. However, it remains a political challenge for the PF as a Ruling Party to bring on board the people like those of Dundumwezi in Monze district which honoured Lungu with 252 votes compared to Hakainde Hachilema who got 30,810 votes. Lungu’s message is loud and clear, “No single vote is too small and two wrongs do not make a right. We have to go back there and give them the reasons why they should vote for us in 2021”
Many citizens and well-wishers of Zambia are concerned as to how the “regional and tribal voting” will be curbed, a recipe for good democracy and national development. An informed concerned citizen, Job Lusanso (Zambia Daily mail 20/08/16), counsels thus:
- By both our political and traditional leaders to change the mind-set of both their political followers and subjects especially in peri-urban and rural areas that every Zambian has a right to be voted to for presidency despite regions or tribes where they come from.
- Both our political and traditional leaders to embrace every one and educate their followers and subjects that Zambia is one and everyone has equal rights and freedoms of association and assembly in all parts of Zambia.
- Our citizenry to accept every person to be freely voted for without looking at the tribe or region where one hails from, just like the case was in 1964 to 2001.
- Our political party leaders to take similar measurers as above.
- All peace loving Zambians, the Church and Civil groups to preach similar message as above.
It is an essential political barometer that elected leaders at any level must be seen to serve their people and know what affects their lives. Politicians show interest in the citizenry, especially the people in the rural areas, only during campaigns. They must be servant-leaders; people who listen to the needs of the people and respond with development programmes to alleviate their plight. The citizens have to develop an attitude to own their country. They are the country; it is not the counsellors, parliamentarians or the president who are the country!
For a better Zambia, politicians and everybody concerned about this country has to re-read ingeniously Zambia political history so that we can build a more admired democracy in Zambia. The economy of our country is another challenge. The in-coming government has to have equal development plans for all the regions of Zambia and its tribes and language irrespective of their recent voting pattern and party loyalty. Politicians have to stop using violent language, segregating attitudes and hurling insults to opponents in public. The completion of the mega projects littered across the country will be a litmus-paper for PF government to “walk the talk”. The citizenry is anxious to see regular supply of cheap mealie-meal.
We thank God for peace that reigns in this land, and we continue to campaign for peace in work and prayer.
Greetings from Korhogo in Ivory Coast. I was in Tanzania in June and July to take part in the first session of the new program called ICOF (Inter-Congregational Ongoing Formation) initiated by four congregations; Missionaries of Africa (M.Afr), Congregation of the Holy Spirit (C.S.Sp.), Society of African Missions (SMA) and Missionaries Sisters of Our Lady of Africa (MSOLA). We were thirteen participants from six different congregations and from nine different countries.
The session took place in the Spiritan Hotel called Stella Maris in Bagamoyo situated 75Km from Dar-es-salaam. Bagamoyo is the ground where the first missionaries landed from Zanzibar. Thus it was a nice place for renewal and reflection on our vocation. This two-month renewal program is entitled “Joy – Filled Gospel Service.”
Different modules were given aiming at a holistic formation as an individual, consecrated person and pastoral agent. It covered the four aspects of our lives; human, spiritual, pastoral and intellectual. Openness among the participants facilitated group sharing, meditation, spiritual direction and time of integration aiming at discovery our life-giving spirit under the motto: rooted in Christ we rediscover ourselves for the joyful witness of the Gospel.
The session helped me to remember the call of Christ in today’s situations and to try to respond to the voice of the Lord joyfully. My vocation is no longer a “work” but a “service” with the Lord. Many modules helped us to increase our awareness related to our strengths and weakness. So often, we try to avoid talking about our weaknesses. We put them in the breath case though they influence our everyday lives. Opening that breath case helps to understand its elements in order to transform them into life-giving contents. Weaknesses are not sins but part of us and can bring growth since “there is a crack in everything”. We need those cracks so as to bring light in our inner closed house. This awareness increases self-responsibilities in acquiring good and healthy relationships.
The session empowered me also as pastoral agent working in a globalised world. It empowered me with new skills in leadership and better management in pastoral counselling. The proclamation of the Gospel has to take into consideration today’s world challenges such as ecology, economy, finances, justice and peace. The session updated me in some important current theologies and documents of the Church. It has been a very enriching experience. It has also increased my self-awareness and improved my relationship with Jesus Christ together with my brothers and sisters. This session has given me hope for a better and joyful ministry. It came to be a graceful opportunity for taking care of myself. Indeed, how can I care for others if I don’t care for myself? Adding to it, as Pope Francis says, an evangeliser has to be aware that he always needs to be evangelised and to be converted.
I felt that something has improved in my life because of this session. Whatever we do or say in our ministries, let us be Christ centred in giving joy to the world while, at the same time, witnessing the Gospel. Thus, in our mission, let us have courage to stop a bit, taking a break, leaving our great apostolates for a while so as to listen to our inner-self. I am grateful to my province PAO for giving me that chance of being among the first beneficiaries of that beautiful experience. Rooted, we bloom! ICOF ARTICLE
Alfred Weyirane Awogya, M.Afr, was also a participant at the session. He is sending his own experience an a few pictures:
During the two months’ renewal journey, we had lots of facilitated sharing in small teams acquiring new skills and getting updates and refreshers on various subjects such as: emotional intelligence and resilience, dangers of various addictions, challenges of faith in contemporary Africa, financial administration and management, gender issues, pastoral counselling skills, justice and peace and Christian responsibility, scripture and mission, graceful transitions in life, interreligious dialogue, leadership and management, trauma awareness, bereavement, stress management and inner child work. The focus was not on academic excellence by any means but geared towards helping us to get in touch with our inner self more deeply together with the world surrounding us. The aim was also to rediscover the fire of our faith and vocation and to continue to bear joyful witness of the Gospel in our missionary assignments. We were also blessed with a serene moment of eight days retreat preached by Bishop Emeritus of Soddo (Ethiopia), Rodrigo Mejía, SJ, on Evangelii Gaudium: the Joy of the Gospel.
In all I would say the program was very relaxing. Besides the inputs and group work, we also had ample time to explore the beautiful coastland of Bagamoyo, and for many participants, learn how to swim. Enjoying sea food and coconut was all part of the renewal! We also had a day of picnic/visit to the historic sites of Bagamoyo, a town founded at the end of the 18th century. It was the original capital of German East Africa and was one of the most important trading ports along the East African coast.
The closing Mass/celebration was very colourful. We were blessed to have a representative from the Tanzanian Episcopal Conference and other priests and sisters. We also had two special guests from Rome, Fr Francis Rozario, a member of the General Council of the SMA who is at the same time the Secretary of the ICOF steering committee in Rome and Fr Joseph Shio, CSSP, also a member of the Spiritan General Council. Fr Rozario presided over the liturgy while Fr Shio preached urging us to celebrate the renewal we ourselves have undergone with our brothers and sisters. In his own words, to “change their water into wine” and not the vice versa, meaning to be instruments and signs of joy and happiness in the lives of the people we minister to. Fr Rozario reiterated the vision and dream for founding ICOF. He presented each participant with a certificate of attendance and congratulated us for being the pioneers to put into flesh the dream of the joint General Councils. He expressed their intention to continue this program annually. You will not regret enrolling for the next Joy-Filled Gospel Service!
During the same closing Eucharistic celebration, representing the whole group, I presented a palm seedling, a symbol of our journey of renewal and explained its significance. After Mass, all the participants, the animators and invited quests had the joyful pleasure to plant the palm seedling in the beautiful lawn grounds of Stella Maris Hotel where we stayed during the program. I am happy and grateful to have had the privilege to go through this journey of renewal. Indeed, the seed has been sown and it has sprouted; we pray that we may continue to blossom where we are planted in joyful witness to the Good News of Christ.
By Alfred Awogya, M.Afr, Namushakende in Zambia.
Together with five new confreres, Moses Sense Simukonde made his final Oath on Saturday April 2016 at Our Lady Queen of Peace Parish, South B, Nairobi. It was a great moment for him as members of his family went to Kenya for the event.
Elvis Ng’andwe also made his final Oath on the 2nd July 2016 at Kapisha Parish in Chingola, Zambia. The main celebrant was Rev. Fr. Ngosa, the Vicar General of the Diocese of Ndola, who acted on behalf of Bishop Alick Banda. His Oath read in Chibemba was received by Father Stanley Lubungo newly chosen to become the Superior General of the Missionaries of Africa, residing in Rome.
Moses was born on the 28th June 1988 in Monze, Zambia. He is the first born of five children. The mother is originally from Kenya. Elvis was born on the 14th July 1981 in Chingola, Zambia. He is the 10th born in a family of 12. He obtained the Degree of Bachelor of Laws from Tumaini University in 2008.
Both Moses and Elis speak French fluently. We are proud that they have become members or our Society as Brothers.
Dear my Confreres, families and friends of the Missionaries of Africa. My heart is full of joy and gratitude for the graces and blessings that the Almighty God has showered on me in this month of August. I am really grateful to God for choosing me, consecrating me and sending me into his vineyard as His humble servant. I acknowledge that the ordination I received on 4th August was not as a result of my own merits but as a result of God’s own grace and mercy towards the sinners. It is for that reason that I salute Him. Many thanks go to all of you my confreres for the support you gave me before, during and after my ordination. I really feel that I belong to a caring family of Cardinal Lavigerie. With my heart full of joy, am very grateful to my confreres in the community of Ndola (Piet van Heijst, Franciszek Szczurek and Didasio Mwanza) for their love, care, support and encouragements. During my three months stay in this community, I have really experienced true brotherhood and I have learnt how to be at the service.
The conference of the Catholic Bishops of Zambia (CCBZ) decided to launch 125 years of Catholicism in Zambia. It was done on August 06, 2016. Present were local people, Christians of neighbouring parishes, representatives of various Catholic dioceses in Zambia, priests, religious, government officials, traditional chiefs, some bishops and the President of the Republic of Zambia and the first lady. It was an inauguration 125 years anniversary of the Catholic Church. It will be concluded next year in 2017, July 15.
My first time to visit this site was in June 2004 when we scouted for it with a team of journalists to collect footage for a documentary on the history of the Missionaries of Africa in Zambia. When we reached this place, we took pictures and the video cameras rolled measures of tapes. At a point the five of us were in total solitude, sobbing in tears, cleaning the graves, uprooting some grass and shrubs with our hands. This was not our planned exercise on this place. Why did this happen? In our daily reviews we did not discuss this incident. I suppose there is something that hit-hard on each one’s soul. We were standing on sacred grounds and we lived a moment of grace. We were at a gate-way of God’s graciousness to the people of Zambia by establishing the Catholic Church.
During a seven-hour presence at Mambwe-Mwela yesterday in my mind propped some important issues that help me to relive this missionary memorial moment. I would like to highlight a few:
- We are inspired by the courageous missionaries who braved the insecurities of the time to come and establish Catholicism. At that time when a missionary left from Europe to Africa, his family mourned because the chance of his returning was very little.
- We appreciate the people who welcomed the first missionaries.
- We urge all missionaries and various religious congregations to collaborate closely with the local church.
- We commit ourselves to listen attentively to the command of Christ so as to go and attend to his flock.
- We ask ourselves what work missionaries are doing today and what issues are their missionary priorities.
- It is a time to rekindle the principle of subsidiarity.
- We recommit ourselves to core values of the Gospel as emphasized by Christ Jesus and get in touch with the aspirations of the first missionaries to respond the human reality.
- We appeal to the local church to foster vocations and form the agents of evangelisation for both the local church and for missionary life.
As Missionaries of Africa and all other missionaries who work in Zambia, we appreciate the people from every tribe, social strata and religion who welcomed us. Hospitality of Zambians is remarkable. We have lived our vocation, responded to the call of God and shared the Gospel among these people. Thanks to traditional, civil and political leaders in Zambia who afforded us human-social and political climate which has been essential part of our missionary work. “Akamana ukupoma: ni pa mabwe!” Jesus’ approach was to send the disciples to people. One factor was essential; that the disciples would be accepted and received by the people; disciples in turn would live among them, share with them the message of the Lord peacefully. If there has been any moment of tension or ungratefulness to the people of this land; the civil, traditional or church leaders, my sincere apologies.
Missionaries of all times are at the service of God among the people to whom the spirit leads them. This is possible in respect and collaboration with Bishops. A spirit of partnership with a local church marked by unity among various congregations makes our vocation meaningful and a sign of witness to the kingdom of God in Zambia. “Twende pamo: te mwenso” also, “Umucinshi wa nseba: kwimina pamo”. We respect the charism of different congregations and missionary societies in Zambia. The Bishops have their own policies and priorities for their particular dioceses. The people of God live an experience that asks us to act under the inspiration of the Gospel of Christ. In spite of all, we need to cultivate a spirit of a common orientation in our pastoral work and have a common drive in our evangelization enterprise. We are not NGOs or Multinational Corporations in which competition and difference in approach matter. “Akanwa kamo: takomfwa nshama ukupya”, plus “Icilola umo: e caba ubufi”!
We need to listen to Christ so as to attend to His flock. This demands deeper spirit of prayer and discernment, it urges us to be attentive to the reality in which we live, it calls us to be compassionate and exemplary in our lives. The Church is neither a theatre for comedians, a College Debate Club nor a museum for spiritual artefacts. The Church, understood as God’s people on a journey to salvation, needs to be strengthened with hope and create a just world marked by prosperity and a common concern that bears the fruits of the Holy Spirit. The message of Jesus the Christ is an invitation to transform the society; to be light to the nations, salt of the earth, and ‘piripiri’ in the soup. Christian mission is to comfort the discomforted and discomfort the comforted. A missionary, indeed any Christian of today, must be a bridge-builder and has to break any wall that divides people, let it be social, political, economic or gender. In Christ we are “Children of God”. Missionaries in Zambia need to rebrand themselves so as to respond to the situations that are contrary to the Gospel values such as corruption, tribalism, poverty, depletion of natural resources, neglect of the rural people in regard to better education and health facilities, and indeed other basic human rights.
The life of the first missionaries records ambassadors of peace, healing and development. The time at which the missionaries arrived in Zambia, the Ngoni warriors, Bemba warriors, the Mambwe and other bordering tribes were fighting. On their own, the Bemba warriors were the terror of their neighbour, especially the Mambwe. The missionaries negotiated for peace, stopped the situation and defended the weak. They did a lot to alleviate some ailments of people. They started some education and sparked-off development in Zambia. Zambia society came to be known and appreciated in other areas overseas. Bishop Joseph Dupont Motomoto for a time became a senior chief of the Bemba so as to prevent anarchy among the Bemba people after the death of their Chief Mwamba until the contentious issues were settled amicably. Therefore, negotiating for peace, intervening in social-cultural issues or participation in political matters needs to be part of evangelization. How are the missionaries of today responding to the new versions of war, corruption, oppression, corruption, social conflicts, deprivation, slavery, sickness and evil in Zambia?
Zambia after 125 years of Catholicity has reached a mature age given the present epoch. Theologians argue that the Church is not a democracy but rather a communion. Fine! This communion is warranted by the “Principle of Subsidiarity” as emphasized by the Second Vatican Council. The Church dreamt of shared responsibility in the life of the Church so that faith can grow & services are available to the people of God. Church Leaders, the consecrated people and the laity have to lay their hands on the affairs of the Church according to their responsibilities and capabilities. A platform needs to be created on which each member of the church has to own a stake and be responsible for the Church; so as to be a “we” rather than a “they” mentality. Such is a rebirth of creative imagination, more freedom of reflection and action and responsible leadership of listening to one another guided by reason and the spirit of Christ. “Uwaleeta pa nsaka: tonaula”, truly “Cinci wa babili: te cinci uli eka”. The church leadership needs to trust, encourage and consult the laity. Women and youths need to stand-out as great energies for Church life. The church is a family of the people of God.
The Zambia Church needs to reconsider promotion of vocation for the dioceses and missionary orders and congregations. “Mwana wa mupe: tafwa nsala”, validly “Akaboko: kakonka akabiye”. There seems to be less vocation promotion ministry for our various dioceses. Each diocese needs to have an active office in this regard; to explain to the faithful especially the youth, the need and the process for the vocation to religious and priesthood. The task of reviving the Church missionary-spirit and re-evangelizations needs new energies of well formed, trained and good-willed people. “Umunwe umo: tausala nda”. We observe crisis in religious and priestly vocations in Zambia. The root-cause could be partly the recruitment and formation policies. We need bigger numbers in which we can choose a few committed young people to take-up the vocation to religious and priestly ministry. We can count on the providence of God but God counts on our imagination informed by reason and faith in Him. “Lesa afwako: abayafwa”, conversely, “Muuba ukulila: ni pa mafito”.
The above personal reflection is a petition to God for missionaries and for Zambia. God bless our mission, bless our people, bless our leaders and bless Zambia. May Christ guide us anew to tread the missionary path for the Gospel of Christ in Zambia! When we celebrate the Eucharist today, may the words of Jesus, “Do this in memory of me…”, be alive to us through the missionaries’ history so that we can make it our own story for today.
Venerato Deus Babaine, M.Afr, Lua-Luo, Kasama, Zambia. Sunday, 07 August 2016 – PDF FILE: 125-anniversary