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.