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.

Visit of Nizamiye mosque on Tuesday 5th July 2016.


Fethula Gulen 3By Christophe Boyer, M.Afr

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.

Ali Katircioglu 2Then 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.

Visit of Nizamiye mosque on Tuesday 5th July 2016.

Newsletter South Africa No 62 – 29th April 2016


Newsletter South Africa No 62 titleGreetings! I hope you are keeping well and that this month has been an occasion to reflect and pray more on your vocation. On April 17, the fourth Sunday of Easter, the Church celebrated the 53rd World Day of Prayer for Vocations. This year’s theme was: “The Church, Mother of Vocations”. Pope Francis wrote: ‘Each vocation in the Church has its origin in the compassionate gaze of Jesus.’ The Church – and don`t forget: you/we are the Church – is where vocations take their root. Pope Francis also writes in his message for Vocation Sunday: Vocations are born within the Church… Vocations grow within the Church… and… Vocations are sustained by the Church. If you belong to a lively and prayerful parish, you can discover your vocation in the context of that community: get involved in it and have regular contacts with your priest. Are you active in your parish community? Are you committed in helping its growth in one way or the other? If you find that your parish is not lively enough, talk with your priest and with elders of your community, get other youths together and DO something about it! This is a good way to be a missionary!

From 25th to 27th of this month, I went to Thohoyandou in Limpopo to enquire and learn more about the life and death of Blessed Benedict Daswa. Indeed, last year when he was beatified on 13th September 2015, I was not able to go. I was very lucky to stay over with Blessed Benedict’s cousin who knew him very well. On the second day, we were joined by Sister Claudette, who, with a team of lay people, worked very hard to promote Benedict’s beatification. With the two of them, I had the chance to visit all the places where Benedict lived, taught and became a headmaster. We celebrated Mass in the small church which he built with the help of his learners and the local Christians. I met also many members of his family, some of his children and especially his dear mother who is now 90 years old. Blessed Daswa left a very memorable souvenir in the minds and hearts of most people not only of his area, but also of the whole of South Africa. He was a real saint who lived his catholic faith to the end, even to accepting death. He always fought for truth, and we all know that he died for having opposed witchcraft which causes so much harm in society.

Newsletter South Africa No 62 picturebWhat is interesting about Benedict is that he was a very ordinary boy who grew up in a remote village of Limpopo in a very loving family; he was baptised as a catholic only when he was 17 years old he became a teacher, got married and fathered eight children. He became a real leader in his village, always guided by his catholic faith in action, and not only in words. He had a great love for all people, especially the youth whom he trained to become real good Christians and citizens. He can be a real inspiration and role model for each one of us. Pray through his intercession; ask him to help you discover your Christian vocation.

Keep well and keep smiling! God bless you! Fr. Michael Meunier, M.Afr