Oath and Diaconate in Merrivale, December 15, 2017


18 New Missionaries of Africa

On Friday 15th December at 4:30 pm, in the beautifully decorated chapel of the Merrivale Formation House in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa, eighteen young men were officially received in the Society of the Missionaries of Africa by pronouncing their Missionary Oath. Many relatives and friends had come from near and far to pray with them and witness this serious life commitment of these generous new confreres. Their Oath was received by Fr. Didier Sawadogo, M.Afr, one of the Assistants to the Superior General. The Provincial of the Southern Africa Province, Fr. Felix Phiri, M.Afr, as well as the Provincial Delegate for South Africa, Fr. Raymond McQuarrie, M.Afr, were also present. The occasion was also enhanced by the presence of Bishop Jan De Groef, M.Afr of Bethlehem Diocese (South Africa) and Bishop Sanctus Lino of Nebbi Diocese in Uganda.

Our new confreres are: Maurice Aduol (Kenya), Jean-Pierre Badjanga Titi (DR Congo), Jean-Paul Basikaba (DR Congo), Stephen Beru (Ghana), Ryan Contamina (Philippines), Philippe Dakono (Mali), Siby Dominic (India), Francis Eze (Nigeria), Eric Kambale (DR Congo), Christopher Nkandu (Zambia), Silas Nsambimana (Burundi), Robert Ouedraogo (Burkina Faso), Justin Ramde (Burkina Faso), Elie Sango (DR Congo), Victor Sanou (Burkina Faso), Martin Somda (Burkina Faso), Jean-Baptiste Todjro (Togo) and Pierre Chanel Ulama (DR Congo).

New Miss SA 1918 New Priests for 2018!

This makes a lot of 18’s! What a wonderful gift for our jubilee year, our 150 years of foundation!

Indeed, the day after the Missionary Oath, on 16th December, in St. Vincent Parish Kwampumuza in South Africa, we had the pleasure to celebrate the ordinations to the diaconate of the same eighteen new confreres for the Missionaries of Africa and two others for the Dominicans (O.P.).

Cardinal Wilfrid Napier, ofm, Archbishop of Durban Archdiocese, presided the celebration assisted by Bishop Jan De Groef, Bishop Sanctus Lino of Nebbi Diocese in Uganda and over fifteen priests.  Everything went smoothly with the enthusiastic and brilliant participation of the local parish choir, the altar servers and all the other liturgical ministers.

After the four-hour celebration, the parishioners, under the wise leadership of their parish councillors, treated everybody to a delicious meal and to some great entertainments. This parish was recently taken by the Missionaries of Africa and we find the people very responsive and generous. They organised everything and contributed not only their time and energy but also all the food and drinks for this great occasion. Great! Siyabonga kakulu! (Thank you very much!)

God’s Family Is Expanding!

By Deacon Jean-Baptiste Todjro, M.Afr.

I was glad when I heard them say let us go to the house of the Lord’ Ps 122: 1. These words mark the beginning of our immediate preparation for our Missionary Oath and Diaconate Ordination. Indeed great was our joy to be accepted into the family of the Missionaries of Africa.

One word was echoed strongly throughout the celebration of our Missionary Oath and Diaconate Ordination: FAMILY. Prior to the celebration of the oath, Didier Sawadogo, representing the Superior General, presented to us the message of the General Council by giving to each of us the positive affirmation of our Society which states: ‘Filled with the joy of the Gospel and guided by the Spirit, we are an intercultural missionary society with a family spirit. Sent out to the African world and wherever our charism is needed, for a prophetic mission of encounter and of witness to the love of God’ (Capitular Acts 2016:17). It is with this sense of belonging and willingness that we responded YES to the call of God and the desire of making God’s love known and flourish in the African world. The word FAMILY was at the heart of the homily of Cardinal Wilfrid Napier who in addressing us insisted that we have to participate in the mission of the Church and identify the challenges that families are facing as our primary mission in collaboration with the universal Church. As such one can boldly say we are ordained to be APOSTLES TO FAMILIES, NOTHING BUT APOSTLES TO FAMILIES.

We wish to thank all those who made this event possible: our community, our formators and provinces of origin who believed we can contribute positively to the Mission of Jesus Christ within the Society of the Missionaries of Africa. Our gratitude also goes to you, our parents, friends and confreres who graced this event with your presence or with a thought or a prayer. Please, continue praying for us and supporting us.

Please remember us and all missionaries of Africa with this hymn that served as a procession and entrance hymn during our Missionary Oath:

À vous mes chers Missionnaires d’Afrique, l’amour est notre unique vocation. Dieu nous envoie en Afrique en mission, pour proclamer par notre vie son Amour. Aimons-nous d’un amour tendre et fidèle, soyons apôtres et rien que cela. Soyons unis pour que la vie soit plus belle, allons sans peur vers notre Dieu qui nous appelle. Nous sommes la présence, du Dieu de l’alliance. Qui nous parle dans le silence, Dieu d’amour et d’espérance. Nous sommes sa présence, ici en Afrique. Qui proclame ses merveilles, Dieu d’amour et d’un nouveau jour.

We are the presence, of God in Africa. Who speaks to us in the silence, God of love and God of hope. We are God’s presence, here in Africa. That proclaims God’s great deeds, God of love and of a new day.

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Souvenir of a very special meal.


pere-jacques-hamelBy Christophe Boyer, M.Afr

End of April 2017, I was back from holidays in France where the islamo-christian dialogue has improved a lot since the martyrdom of Father Jacques Hamel during mass in a church. Of their own initiative Muslims have come to Church to show their opposition to violence and intolerance.

Toni RowlandI was wondering what could be done here in South Africa. One day I received a phone call from Toni Rowland who is in charge of the family apostolate at the South African Catholic Bishops Conference. She asked me to advise her about a Muslim invitation since I am a contact person for islamo-christian relations at the SACBC. I was lifted up by this answer to my question.

We went together to meet Ayhan Cetin the CEO of the Turquoise Harmony Institute. He told us that this year the Institute invites people motivated to inter religious dialogue to share the breaking of the fast in a Muslim family. Toni had already gone with the Institute to visit Turkey. We said it is a very good project and emailed the invitation to Catholics who might be interested. Toni went to such an iftaar and was delighted meeting such a diversity of people. So I asked Michel Meunier of Canada and George Okwii of Uganda, my two fellow priests in Edenglen if they would be interested in such an invitation. They answered without hesitations.

Then I registered on the Facebook page of the Institute and received an answer within the week with the professional assistance of Ayhan and his secretary. The 12th June at 17:30, we arrived at Sermin and Turker Isler’s flat not far from Nizamiye mosque. We were immediately warmly welcomed by them and three neighbours. I gave in an envelope the message of the Vatican for the Feast of the Sacrifice at end of the Ramadan and a small box of mint green tea. We sat with our three male hosts. The food was tasty and rich. We closed the meal with black tea.

Nizamiye mosque 2The conversation was lively: our respective lives, work, politics, soccer… One and the other went for a prayer at the end of the meal. Finally, after thanking the mistress of the house we moved at the invitation of our three male counterparts to the beautiful pastry parlour of the mosque. On the way we could admire the illuminated mosque in the night.

We were happily surprised to meet Uncle Ali, the builder of the mosque and the boss of the pastry who sat at table with us. There was another round of very refined Turkish delights one of them being hot ice cream…  The conversation became more spiritual. We need such table fellowship to anticipate the one at the end of the world when there will be universal love without discrimination of religion, race, gender, wealth or culture. We promised to follow up with other similar encounters even with the youth and during worship. We parted with a precious new memory in our hearts.

Souvenir of a very special meal

Link: Visit of Nizamiye mosque on Tuesday 5th July 2016.

South Africa Sector Post Cap Deliberations – Formation House in Merrivale, KwaZulu/Natal


Spirituality-Charism-Community-Mission-Service

post-cap-feb-2017-01cThe South Africa Sector held its Post Capitular Assembly from Tuesday 14th February till Thursday 16th February. We thank especially Fr. Bill Turnbull, M.Afr., from the Malawi Sector for preparing our documents and for guiding us all through our Post Cap. Bill put a lot of effort into this event.  He focused primarily on our fundamentals and foundation as Missionaries of Africa: our Spirituality-Charism and Community living, then looked at our Mission, with all its complexities of pastoral insertion; placing ourselves at the service of Africa at the existential peripheries; encountering and dialoguing with others, especially other faiths and Islam; addressing issues of poverty, corruption, land, racism and migrants, justice & peace and ecology.  Even though we had three full days, it wasn’t enough to really address and process the issues affecting us in our mission here in South Africa. Despite our very diverse cultures, languages and ages etc., we could sense a real unity of purpose and direction in the spirit of the Chapter. We look forward to the final Provincial Strategic Plan to come from the upcoming Provincial Council to be held in a couple of weeks’ time. 

Father, Son & Holy Spirit Guide Us

At the opening on Tuesday morning, following the Chapter’s example, we held a small ceremony of the lighting of candles which remained lit for the duration of our Post Cap. The candles represented the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, the Triune God, and we prayed this God guide us, and keep us united, through our sharing’s, discussions and deliberations. Bill composed three prayers which were read out as each of the three candles were lit. Each morning, as we opened our discussions, these candles were lit.

Ecological – ‘Paperless-Digital’ Gathering

One significant change of this Post Cap and the general Sector Meeting, which was held on the Monday before (13th Feb), was that we had a ‘paperless’, or ‘digital’ Post Cap. Basically, the only paper we used was the actual Chapter document itself. This was a first for our Sector and we will continue to be ecologically sensitive to how we run our meetings and gatherings. Everything was done on computer, using flash drives and projecting our documents onto a large screen. Feedback was done by a group spokesperson or secretary who typed up everything onto the group flash drive. This was then given to the moderator and to the Post Cap secretaries. We are happy that during this Post Cap we could begin to implement the call to be more ecologically sensitive.

Nkosi sikeleli Afrika

We pray for our Province of SAP, and we pray for each of the four Sectors. May we each be true witnessing Apostles and good stewards in our mission and service of Africa where we are – and may our Mother Mary, Queen of Africa, guide and direct all our actions to and through her beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. May His Kingdom come.

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We celebrate our 150th Anniversary!


A short history.

The Society of the Missionaries of Africa (M.Afr) was founded in Algeria, in 1868 by Cardinal Charles Lavigerie, Archbishop of Algiers; he would later be-come Cardinal Lavigerie (July 1882). From the beginning, this new missionary society took the Arab dress: the “gandoura”, with, as a religious sign, a rosary worn like a necklace. This earned them the name “White Fathers”. One year later, in 1869, Cardinal Lavigerie also founded the Congregation of the Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Africa (MSOLA). Today, there are 1,232 Missionaries of Africa, from 37 Nationalities, working in 42 Countries, 22 of which are in Africa. They live in 217 communities; with a further 486 candidates at various stages of formation.

150-anniversary-m-afr-logo-saSouth Africa.

At the request of the Malawi Catholic Bishops’ Conference, in 1969 the Missionaries of Africa finally came down to South Africa in order to minister to the 70,000 Malawian migrants working in the lucrative mines around Johannesburg, Rustenburg and Witbank. The Malawian Catholic Mine Chaplaincy soon became the Catholic Mine Chaplaincy as the first missionary communities answered the call of all migrant mine workers, drawn from the neighbouring countries, to have a Catholic presence in their mine. Twenty years later the mine chaplaincy was integrated into each Diocese, through parish structures.

Our commitments over the years.

As the Missionaries of Africa became more known; new requests for communities were sent to the General House in Rome. The response was positive, and in rather quick succession, missionary communities were founded in Bethlehem Diocese: Phuthaditjhaba/Qwaqwa and eventually Bohlokong; in Pretoria Archdiocese in the KwaNdebele region: Tweefontein, Siyabuswa and Diepsloot; in Witbank Diocese: Kamhlushwa, Malelane and eventually KwaGuqa; in Johannesburg Archdiocese: Soweto (Zola, Zondi, Emdeni and Protea North), Orange Farm, and later, Lenasia.

From 1998 to 2004, three of our Missionaries ran the Lumko Institute in Benoni. The most recent insertion is a formation house in Durban Archdiocese: Merri-vale has more than 30 theology students from various African countries who study theology at Cedara St. Joseph Institute. Furthermore, we have two parishes near Pietermaritsburg: Henley and KwaMpumuza. Our students enjoy going there for their weekend apostolate.

A community in Edenglen, Johannesburg, acts as a hub for administration and vocation animation, while welcoming many visitors. At the same time, the priests of this community offer much appreciated services to local parishes, groups, schools and religious communities of that area and beyond.

And the mission goes on…

In their almost 50 years in South Africa (2019), the Missionaries of Africa living in communities, have tried to respond to requests for primary evangelisation, and moving on when the local Church has been established. Due to dwindling numbers and the maturity of the local Church in South Africa, today communities are found in the formation house in Merrivale, Henley,  KwaMpumuza, Bethlehem, Lenasia and Edenglen; 17 confreres in all.

The contribution has been modest but sincere; a missionary effort to building a vibrant local Church. The presence of a Formation House bodes well for the future and will ensure a Missionaries of Africa presence in South Africa for the foreseeable future.

We sincerely hope and pray that this Jubilee celebration will finally arouse in some young men the desire of a true vocation as Missionaries of Africa. What a wonderful gift from the South African Church this would be to us! Please, pray for us!

With God’s blessings.

Missionaries of Africa, P.O. Box 10057, Edenglen 1613, South Africa. Tel: 011 452 5283.

The Xaveri movement in South Africa.


george-okwii-2016_jpegRecently, George Okwii, M.Afr, replaced Michel Meunier as Chaplain of the Xaveri movement based in Pretoria Archdiocese though Michel remains a member of the Board. This movement was founded in 1952 by late Father Georges Defour (+2012) in Bukavu in the Democratic Republic of Congo. There has always been a close link between the Xaveri and the Missionaries of Africa. In South Africa, Martin Mande, age 34, originally from Bukavu, initiated the movement in 2007 which has developed since then to reach Swaziland at Hlatikulu Christ the King Parish, Manzini Diocese. George Okwii, who knew the movement in Uganda, was also instrumental in setting up a branch in Henley-KwaMphumuza, Pietermaritzburg. Ministering now from Johannesburg, his chaplaincy with the Xaveri takes mostly place at the Cathedral of Pretoria. Hopefully, it will also spread over to Johannesburg.

xaveri-kwazulu-natal-team-3At the moment, the Xaveri movement is concentrating its activities around a choir, charitable works such as visiting the sick, social activities, bible studies and prayers. A special attention is also given in bringing together migrants or refugees with South-Africans. See below, the testimony of Mme Dudu, Matron of the movement in KwaZulu Natal. She is a lecturer at Durban University of Technology.

A special celebration took place at Sunday Mass on the 25th September at the Cathedral of Pretoria with the blessing of medals given to some members who made their promise to serve Christ and one another.

SHORT PRESENTATION OF THE XAVERI MOVEMENT:

Defxaveri-logoinition: The organisation is governed by its Constitution as an independent, non-political, non-Governmental, non-profit and educational organisation for boys, girls and adults open to all without distinction of origin, race or creed, in accordance with the purpose of bringing together young people in a congenial and happy atmosphere which is inspired by the spirit of healthy African Traditions.

Aim: The aim of the organization is to contribute to the development of young people in achieving their full potentials as individuals, as responsible citizens and as members of society, to build up true human beings whose interior life is stimulated by the spirituality of non-violence and inspire to lead an active apostolate in their own environment.

xaveri-definitionPrinciples: Love of God. Love of each other. Love of self.

Method: The Xaveri Method is a system of progressive self-education through the membership of small groups involving, under adult guidance, progressive discovery and acceptance of responsibility and training towards self-government directed towards the development of character, and the acquisition of competence, self-reliance, dependability and capacities both to co-operate and to lead.

Progressive and stimulating programmes of varied activities based on the interests of the participants, including games, useful skills, and services to the community and outdoors activities in contact with nature.

Objectives: To help young people make positive choices to live their life to the full. To educate young people regarding good citizenship. To encourage and assist youth to develop their talents fully. To help youth to grow in awareness of correct spiritual, moral and cultural values so that they may incorporate these values in their lives.

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georges-defour-you-tubeSee on You Tube a video in French about Father Georges Defour.