In Memoriam Gotthard Rosner


Father Rudi Pint, Provincial Delegate of the sector of Germany, informs you of the return to the Lord of Father Gotthard Rosner on Wednesday September 2nd, 2020 in Munich (Germany) at the age of 79 years, of which 53 years of missionary life in Uganda, Switzerland, France, Italy, USA, Zambia UK and Germany.

Every now and then, there is a little controversy about the photo of an elderly confrere who died. Should we publish a recent photograph, which reflects the physical appearance of the confrere during the last years, or should we post an older picture, which will be acknowledged by the people he worked with when he was in Africa? Father Gotthard died on the second of September. He was a formator for many years and a superior general for 6 years. Many younger confreres have known him… with a beard, which he let go for the last few years.

“White Fathers – White Sisters: the graces of the jubilee year,” The Southern Africa Province (SAP)


By Felix Phiri, M.Afr

The Southern Africa Province (SAP) is composed of four countries, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa and Zambia, of which only Malawi has remained to date the only country with the presence of the MSOLA. Nonetheless, the whole Province experienced something of the close collaboration with the MSOLA at the occasion of the Jubilee, mainly the Malawi Sector and to a certain extent the Zambia Sector.

In 2016, the two superiors of the Missionaries Africa and MSOLA announced the Jubilee of the 150 years of the foundation of their two institutes, with a clear three years roadmap, each year marked by a specific theme. The Malawi Sector, being the only country with the MSOLA presence, immediately put in place a team composed of vocation animators belonging to both institutes to spearhead the planning and actualization of the activities related to the Jubilee. The team met on a regular basis in order to organize the activities together.

Several activities were conjointly agreed upon and realized in the course of the three years. To start with, there was the pilgrimage visit to Mponda, point of arrival of the first Missionaries of Africa in Malawi in 1889, to revisit our origins in Malawi – a similar pilgrimage was done in Zambia to Mambwe Mwela the place where the first Catholic presence in what is presently known as Zambia was established in 1891, in connection with the 125 years of Christianity in Zambia. The pilgrimage in Malawi was extended to Mua, the place where the first permanent mission was established in 1902. The official launching of the Jubilee took place in 2017 in St Denis parish, Chinsapo, in Lilongwe. The colourful ceremony was presided over by Archbishop Tarcisius Ziyaye, the archbishop of Lilongwe. Each Sector organized its own closing ceremony; in Malawi the ceremony took place in St Thomas-Zolozolo and St Francis in 2019. In Zambia it took place on the 10th November 2019 and the MSOLA were represented by two of the sisters. It was a colourful celebration presided over the archbishop emeritus Telesphore-George Mpundu whose personal knowledge and past history with the Missionaries of Africa added a special flavour to the ceremony. At the end of his homily he rolled on the ground in the traditional way of expressing gratitude for the missionary work realized in Zambia. 

In the course of the three years, a number of activities were realized, some together with the MSOLA others alone as Missionaries of Africa. For instance, to mark this common journey, celebrations of the 30th April, the feast of Our Lady of Africa, on the 26th November (the Anniversary of the death of our founder), and the 8th December, the feast of the Immaculate Conception, were conducted with a notable participation of members of either institutes. These were occasions to express our common origin and unity of purpose in the mission. On different occasions, various talks were given conjointly with the MSOLA on the themes of the year and/or on the life of the founder and spirituality of the two societies. Furthermore, the team went around the parishes that have been previously run by the Missionaries of Africa for a reminder of our presence there as well as vocational animation. In some parishes this brought back nostalgic souvenirs of the ‘good old days.’

Among the accompanying artefacts produced on the occasion of the Jubilee the most significant epitomizing the close collaboration with the MSOLA was the printing of the Jubilee cloth (nsalu) in 2018/2019. Over 1,200 pieces of cloth was printed and sold successfully. This was the most conspicuous symbol of the jubilee, not only was it worn by many women but it was also used as ornaments during celebrations. A similar initiative was undertaken by the other Sectors which also produced their own sets of jubilee clothes, alongside other products such as jubilee golf shirts, calendars, Missionaries of Africa rosaries, etc. In 2019, the MSOLA receive a special invitation from Bishop Lungu of Chipata Diocese, in Zambia, to come and mark their jubilee celebration in the diocese. Although the invitation was specifically for the MSOLA, it was an opportunity for us to interact with the MSOLA sisters who came to attend the events and to accompany them.

By the nature of the presence of the MSOLA in our Province, common activities could only be carried out in Malawi where they still have a presence and Zambia the last country where they were. In spite of that, we can discern tangible fruits of the Jubilee in collaborating with our sisters. Firstly, the very fact of working for the same cause during these last three years reminded us of our common origin and drew us closer together. Secondly, this has been an extraordinary opportunity to revisit our immediate and distant history; the different talks given about the history of our two institutes refreshed our sense originating from something greater than we are and the visit to the historical places where the first missionaries first arrived made us realize the amount of sacrifice and courage that went to the beginnings of the church. Finally, the participation of the local church made us understand and appreciate the contribution of our two institutes to the founding of the church in this part of the world. This was not a celebration isolated from the rest but indeed that of the whole church; we were not the object of the celebration but the occasion for it.

Serving and living with God’s people.


By Hervé Tougma

Proud to be a member of our Society by my missionary Oath, I was ordained in and for the Church. I am a Missionary of Africa priest in the Church who is mother and educator. Since my ordination, the Society has granted me the grace and privilege to live in a parish in Mozambique.

In this semi-urban and semi-rural parish, my desire is to live a very active apostolate in which the collaboration between the pastoral team and the Christian faithful is felt and lived. This desire, which is a reality in our small and young parish, is the subject of a sharing on “the life and the participative management of our parish”.

Encounter with the right key

Hand in hand, we will build up the Church as God’s family. As a Missionary, I am aware of my contribution but the strength of the building will depend on the people who receive the Gospel, and allow it to penetrate their lives and be its life-giving source. In Mozambique, every confrere who arrives for the first time in this “Glorious Land” becomes a small library which is once again enriched with two languages: Portuguese and the local language. Taking to heart the invitation of our founder, Cardinal Lavigerie, learning the language brings us into the reality of the people and brings us closer to them. As Missionaries of Africa, speaking the local language remains a priority for the sharing and incarnation of the Good News, for breaking down barriers of communication and for coming into contact with and understand the local culture. Speaking the language already gives this joy of walking together.

In his missionary sending, Jesus said: “Go therefore, make disciples of all nations, (…) teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Mt 28:19-20a). To make disciples of them and to transmit what the Lord Himself has commanded me, knowledge of the language is the key that allows me to be a happy and fulfilled missionary.

The Apostolate of collaboration, baptized and sent

Invited by the Bishop because of our charism, we have responded by taking a parish as a starting point for our apostolate of Justice and Peace and of Integrity of Creation JPIC). In the same perspective and taking advantage of our presence, the Bishop also asked us to join his pastoral team to initiate ecumenism and inter-religious dialogue with the growing number of Muslims in the region. The cosmopolitan reality of Tete calls for an integration of our specialisation with the pastoral needs of the Diocese. In this mining town and crossroads of travellers from neighbouring countries such as Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe, we observe the intermingling of races and human mobility as ordinary realities. As Missionaries of Africa, managing a parish that responds to our vocation as ordained for the Church, the particularity of our charism propels us to respond to pastoral needs starting from the parish that serves as a springboard.

With very few diocesan priests, the Diocese counts on different congregations each with its own approach to mission, based on its Charism.

The absence of permanent catechists in the Diocese of Tete was a surprise to me. This reality provides for a very close collaboration with lay people and pastoral agents. For catechesis in our parish, we work with volunteer catechists. We have the presence of the Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist and the Ministers of Hope. The Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist assists the priest in the distribution of the Eucharist and brings communion to the sick. He also accompanies the priest at the appropriate time for visits to the sick. The Ministers of Hope collaborate through being close to the sick. In case of decease, the Minister of Hope leads the prayers for Christian burial when the priest cannot be present.

Within the framework of these two extraordinary ministries, each group is being prepared and trained before being sent out for witnessing to their faith through their ministry.

As pastors, we visit the communities for Masses and in the absence of the priest we count on their leaders for the celebration of the Word every Sunday. According to St. Paul “How could they call upon him, if they had not believed in him? And how could they believe in him without hearing him? And how can they hear him if no one proclaims him?

And how can they proclaim him unless they are sent?” (Rom 10:14-17). This responsibility is shared and the most important thing is to empower these lay leaders through prior preparation. The training and meetings allow us to journey with the members of the different groups and movements towards a precise horizon. We keep an eye on the organization and the life of the basic Christian communities. We visit these communities from time to time so as to accompany them and to remain in touch with the faithful. We also encourage them to practice solidarity in their daily living.

The reality of the mission in the field educates and teaches us. After a long time of formation, I discovered the necessity and importance of pastoral collaboration. In addition to the collaboration with the Pastor of the Diocese and his pastoral agents, I have learned to appreciate collaboration with the laity so as to live the apostolate of closeness in view of rooting the Gospel in the life and culture of people. The preparation I have received is being contextualised and teaches me to delegate, to share my experience and know-how with close collaborators for the building up of the mystical body of Christ: the Church.

Source : Petit Écho de la Société des Missionnaires d’Afrique, no 1109, 2020/03

Youth Ministry in St. Lawrence Parish – Lusaka “Walking and Working Together”


By Patrick Sebyera, M.Afr

Patrick SebyeraIntroduction

St Lawrence is a relatively young parish that used to be an outstation of the Good Shepherd parish (Kabwata). It became an independent parish in 2011. It has twenty Small Christian Communities which are divided into five areas. The largest part of our parish is Misisi compound, I would say 80%. Misisi compound “is a shanty town, which is located in Lusaka, Zambia. Misisi has been identified as one of the five worst slums in Sub Saharan Africa. Due to a lack of resources there has been poor record keeping, but according to best estimates, there are between 80 and 90,000 people living in the area”. Of the twenty Small Christian Communities, 16 of them are in Misisi compound and four others are in Kamwala South. Therefore, the majority of our parishioners, our young people, come from poor families and this also has an impact on the youth ministry in our parish. Nevertheless, St. Lawrence youth ministry is seemingly strong, though more needs to be done. In this article I will present some of the activities and challenges that confront us and I will sum up with a short conclusion.

Activities

In St. Lawrence’s Parish, the youth ministry is composed of four branches, namely the Holy Childhood (5 to 12 years), the teenagers (13 to 18 years), the senior youths (19 to 25 years) and the young adults (26 to 35 years). Here in Zambia, youth is defined as all those who are under the age of 35 years. These four different branches are spread in different groups: such as the Stella, Holy Childhood, the Altar Boys, the TOM (Teens On the Move), the Xaveri, the Vocation group, the Junior Franciscans, the Junior Actio, the Junior Pioneers and, the Junior Legion of Mary. Apart from these different groups, there are different choirs mainly composed of young people.

PatrickThe young people make their own programmes following the guidelines of our diocese. They are very active in social programmes but less active when it comes to spiritual programmes. On Wednesdays we have started a Mass in the evening at 17:00 in order in try and help our young people embrace and grow in their spiritual life. Social activities such as outings, tours, youth camps, fundraising ventures, workshops, pilgrimages, retreats and recollections are organised at different periods of the year in order to bring our young people together. The retreats and recollections are mainly organised by the different groups themselves.

Every year, there are sports activities organised at deanery level and our young people participate, but they don’t score high because of lack of commitment and regular raining in those sports.

In union and communion with their fellow young people around the world, they celebrate the Youth Day. On this day different activities take place. This year, they had Mass and after Mass different singing and sports activities took place. It was also an occasion to fundraise by selling tickets and food in order to get some funds for their future plans. On this day, 12th March 2019, I celebrated my first Youth Day Mass.

I am still new here but I am slowly getting to know the parish and getting involved in its different activities, of which the youth apostolate is one, so that I can also bring my contribution and help them to improve in some areas. I expected a big number of young people to turn up for Mass but the number was rather small. To my surprise in the afternoon the numbers grew considerably.

Patrick 2In my homily, I focused on the readings taken from Gen 1: 26-31; 2 Thes 3: 2-16 and Mt 25: 14-30. I emphasised the fact that we are all created in God’s image and likeness. This has an impact on our life and on our behaviour regarding God, and on our brothers and sisters as well as all of creation. God created man and woman. He blessed them with responsibilities, five of them: be fertile, multiply, fill the earth, subdue it and have dominion over all living things on earth. Further on in Gen 2: 8. 15 God planted a beautiful garden. He placed man and woman in it in order to cultivate it and to care for it. This is linked with St. Paul’s exhortation in 2 Thes 3: 2-16 where he invites us not to stay sluggish and busy with other people’s problems, forgetting our own. We, the young people of St Lawrence, do we know our problems? And how can we overcome them? The first step is to identify them, and then we have to walk together and work together. St. Paul is inviting us to go on working and earning our own bread to avoid being a burden to others, to our parents or to the church, thinking that they have to do everything for us.

I therefore encouraged them to walk and work together, to avoid laziness and the attitude of being spoon-fed; always having their hands outstretched to receive what is provided for them. Living with such a mindset and approach is to behave like the third servant in the parable, who instead of making the one talent, which he had received from his master, bear fruit, hid it in the soil (cf. Mt 25: 15. 18. 24-25). At this juncture

I invited our young people not to put their talents to sleep nor bury them in the earth or in selfishness and laziness lest the master come back and rebuke them saying ‘you wicked and lazy servant (youth) … throw this useless servant into darkness outside’ (cf. Mt 25: 26. 30). It is therefore our responsibility as young people here at St. Lawrence to walk and work together and to put our energy and talents together in order to overcome the different challenges we encounter. I then finished by encouraging them like the Apostle “do not be remiss in doing good” (2 Thes 3: 13).

Challenges

Most of these challenges were provided to me by the youth chairperson at the parish, Mr Nestor Bwalya, who knows the parish and the youth better than I do.

Our challenge has been to organise the youths in our parish. In some sections many young people are neither active nor committed to the programmes and the meetings. This means that some programmes have failed because of poor attendance. It is difficult to find young adults willing to participate because they think they are already elders. Those that we have are still around because they hold some positions in youth ministry.

Another challenge is finance. This generation is used to an easy life and things for free and they don’t pay or contribute when needs arise. They like things free of charge and every time they are asked to pay or contribute, they answer ‘ndilibe ndalama’ or ‘shikwete mpiya’, in Chinyanja and in Chibemba, both meaning ‘I don’t have money’. To get anything from them, you have to push them hard; but if you invite them for an outing where everything is pre-arranged, many turn up. This attitude shows a certain lack of enthusiasm and generosity.

Technology has contributed to the lethargy of our young people. They are not active in church programmes because they are so busy with worldly things like: drinking, T.V., Sex, Media (WhatsApp, Facebook, etc.). Sex is killing our young people. They are so much involved in things concerning sex and relationships. It hurts to see girls being impregnated by young boys at a very tender adolescent age. Recently, a young girl of 12 years was impregnated by an altar boy. The church has become an alien for them because in church we tell them that sex before marriage is a sin, which is true, though even after marriage, sex outside marriage is still and remains a sin. So they run away from the church and find themselves in difficulties. How can we help this generation?

The church should take steps to reach out to these young people at their level, listen to them in their daily struggles and then move with them slowly to bring them back to the way Jesus Christ wants to lead them, with a message of hope, because many of our young people are losing hope. This crisis of losing hope and not being able to cope with some problems means some young people go so far as to take their own lives.

A case like this happened just few days ago; a young man, 22 years old, could not cope with some problem that he had, so he decided to take poison and he died straightaway. How can we help the young avoid going to such extremes? Pope Francis in Christus Vivit states: “Christ is alive! He is our hope, and in a wonderful way he brings youth to our world, and everything he touches becomes young, new, and full of life … Christ is alive and he wants you to be alive!” (Pope Francis, Christus Vivit, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation To Young People And To The Entire People Of God). We should be close to our young people and encourage them to follow the way of the living Christ, who at all times wants to renew their lives.

Drugs and beer are another harmful issue. It is rare to find youths who are not involved in some way in such things, especially in the Misisi compound. Another challenge is that many young people are alone and have to fight to earn their daily bread. This means that some of them even have to work on Sunday and cannot go to church.

Patrick 3

Not all the parents manage to send their children to school because of poverty. This has been the root of the many problems our young people meet. In such cases some parents will even push their children to marry early or young people themselves will enter an early marriage without the consent of parents. Otherwise girls beget children outside mariage and are then forced to stay at home with their parents. This means that they stop seeing their friends and begin to feel very isolated.

Conclusion

With these challenges and others that are not listed here, I am challenged and you my fellow confreres are also challenged to make contact with young people and see how best we can help them in their daily struggles. The way will be long and certainly there is a lot to be done.

Young people need to be approached at the level where they are. We bring them the message of hope and not so much the teachings, laws and decrees, though they are important in themselves, but sometimes they seem detached from the reality on the ground. As the Pope once again reminds us, we should approach them with tenderness and love showing them that Christ is in them, with them and he never abandons them. However far they may wander, he is always there. He calls them and he waits for them to return to him and start over again. He is always there to restore their strength and their hope (cf. CV 2). Therefore we should encourage young people to know that they are not meant to become discouraged; but rather they are meant to dream great things, to seek vast horizons, to aim higher, to take on the world, to accept challenges and to offer the best of themselves to the building of something better (cf. CV 15). Let this be a challenge to me and you as we strive to work and help our young people grow into becoming more human and to turn into better persons in tomorrow’s society and above all to become good Christians.

Source: Petit Echo 2019 / 05, No 1101

Henley Parish Youth ministry


By Faustin Kerumbe, M.Afr

Introduction

Faustin KerumbeToday, we believe that through Youth Ministry – in other words the Pastoral Care of the Youth – the Church can offer to young people something for their spiritual growth and human development. The Youth Apostolate is an investment in its own right for the future of the Church and society. As we once asked ourselves the question about what are we going to do or to be in life, in the same way, there are also many young people who are asking these same questions but without finding answers. Consequently they fall into despair. Can our Youth Ministry help them to find answers and offer hope? The mission is imperative: “Duc in altum!” (Launch into the deep)

Where are we?

Henley Parish is our field of pastoral work. It is in the Catholic Archdiocese of Durban, KwaZulu Natal, South Africa. I arrived at Henley Parish in December 2014. The Parish had been reopened in 2012 by Fr. Philippe Docq after more than twenty years without the presence of priests due to social and political conflicts. In 2015, Fr. George Okwii took over from Fr. Philippe but there was not, as yet, a proper parish structure. The five outstations that currently form Henley Parish were functioning independently. In December 2015, the 1st Parish Pastoral

Council was formed. I personally took over from Fr. George Okwii in 2016.

What is being done regarding Youth Ministry?

When I took over, Fr. Philippe Docq had already trained the altar servers in all the outstations. Martin Somda, a stagiaire, was also organizing the youth in two of the five outstations. In 2015, Fr. George Okwii introduced the Xaverian Movement. However everything had to be reorganized at all levels. Looking at the young people and taking into account the lengthy absence of priests, I was totally gripped by compassion at finding myself as a shepherd in the middle of lost sheep “…because they were like sheep without a shepherd...” (Mk 6:34b). I strongly felt the need to introduce Youth Ministry as part of our pastoral commitment as a matter of urgency. I was handed the job of youth chaplain by the community. In collaboration with the Parish Pastoral Council, the Youth Ministry was launched in April 2016 with the election of Youth leaders in each outstation. The chairpersons of these five outstations form the Parish Youth Executive. There are Patrons and Matrons representing the parents of the young people and the Parish Pastoral Executive is involved in all youth activities. From that time we started working together as a team. The first task of the Parish leaders was to build unity in the parish and to work together in collaboration with Parish Pastoral Council Executive members. Among the youth groups, we have different organizations such as the Xaverian Movement and Children of Mary Sodality.

The Altar Servers are also part of the Youth ministry. All the youth movements including the Xaverian movement, the Children of Mary and the Altar Servers fall under the responsibility of the Parish Youth Executive leadership. Together they form the youth of Henley parish. Different outstations have different problems but each outstation is encouraged, to adopt the activities of the parish and implement them at local level.

What is being done now is to keep the young people interested through various activities such as leadership training and skills development.

Some youth leaders are already members of the local Church Executive and are fully participating in Church activities. In that way we see our Youth Ministry as an investment project for the future of the Church and society at large.

Henley ParishYouth activities

All the youth activities are carried out in line with the yearly plan drawn up by the Parish Youth Executive. The primary aim is to bring the young people of Henley parish together and make the Church a welcoming environment for their spiritual growth and human development.

New Year events:

At the beginning of the year we have a special Mass for young people. All the intentions ask God to bless the young people and their families, to guide and to protect them throughout the year. On the last Sunday of January we have a motivational program for education under the theme: “Go back to school and shine.” This event is run by some qualified teachers who talk to the young people about the challenges of life and the importance of education.

Lenten Season activities

We can summarize our youth activities during the Lenten season under St Benedict’s principle, “Ora et labora.” Every second weekend of Lent we have a parish youth recollection day that starts with the Way of the Cross on a hilltop called KwaSabelo. The fourth weekend of Lent is the day of charity work at a school for blind people called “Bawinile Centre.” This event is organized in order to help young people enrich their spiritual life through prayers, contemplation and works of charity, to develop their sense of empathy, to sacrifice their basic needs for the benefit of the unprivileged or needy, to encourage young people to reach out and to put their faith into practice. During this period of Lent, the members of the Xaverian Movement and the altar servers select a poor family and then go and help them by cleaning and cooking.

July and August activities

On the first weekend of July, we have the Parish Youth Council. This is a moment where the young people come together to evaluate their activities for the past six months. It is also an opportunity for them to develop a spirit of communication and of listening to one another. In the second week of July we have the “Youth Winter camp”. This is the most successful event in the Parish. It is full of activities that young people like. It was introduced in 2016 at the parish level but for the last two years it has attracted numbers of young people from other parishes. So far the youth camp is the most important activity for young people as it brings them together and even non-Catholics come along. On their arrival they are given a team number and all the youth camp activities are conducted by teams. Each team with its leader coordinates the activities.

It gives them a chance to know each other and to overcome their differences as well as helping them to accept one another and to learn from one another. Furthermore, it helps them develop a spirit of teamwork and service, etc. On Saturday morning all the teams go to different families with a Gospel inspired theme and to witness to what the theme is inviting them to be by doing something practical. In the evening, they give a feedback on their mission. On Sunday afternoon they are given a talk on the Church and its mission; the place and the commitments of young people and vocations in Church. It is also a time to answer some of the questions the young people are asking about the Church especially about vocations and faith. In the evening before the departure day, the young people are put in two groups: boys and girls separately. They are given a talk on education to life under the topic: “men to men; women to women”.

In August we have the skills training for liturgy like keyboard training, singing and public reading. A fun walk and sports are also organized in August for young people to help them keep fit and for fundraising purposes in order to try to be self-sustainable financially knowing that many of our young people are still studying and unemployed.

December and summer activities

YoungOn the second weekend of December we have the second Parish Youth Council to evaluate the activities of the past year and to prepare plans for the coming year. The third weekend is the weekend for our summer outing to allow our young people to socialize, to relax and to meet their curiosity by discovering some interesting places. So far, our young people have toured to the Drakensberg Mountains, the Roseland Reserve and Richards Bay. The last weekend of December we have a closing Mass of Thanksgiving to God for everything He has done for the young people during the past year.

Synod on the Youth

Henley Parish 2The Synod on the Youth was successfully launched at the Archdiocesan level. However, there is a lack of communication between the Diocesan Youth Office, the Deanery and parishes in terms of follow up and implementation of the guidelines proposed for youth activities in parishes. Our deanery is suffering from the absence of a youth chaplain, as a result we continue with our own parish plan for the year.

In general the young people make their presence felt in our parish. We are thankful for their response and their participation in Church activities despite some challenges we encountered in the course of the year due to the school calendar. But there is hope and the future is bright. We started as a small group but today it reaches out beyond our parish. The unity among the young people, their active presence in Church and their participation in the Church’s outreach activities is a visible sign of the impact of our Youth Ministry. By throwing out our nets, we are gradually catching more young people. We hope that this growing tree that we are watering today will bear much fruit tomorrow for the benefit of the Church and its mission.

Source: Petit Echo, 2019 /05 – No 1101.