Word of Gratitude form Lebombo Parish, South Africa

Lebombo Parish logoOn behalf of the Parish Pastoral Council and Fr. Crispin Vungwa, I would like to thank you wholeheartedly for the great support shown to us on the occasion of the untimely demise of Father Sebastien Ndrutsomi.   
Thank  you  for  the  gift  of  your  love,  sacrifice,  time  and  your  commitment  to  show solidarity and comfort to us.  Happiness is not found at the end of the journey but it is found as we plough along day after day with what God puts on our path.  The Parish was very united during these trying times and it is with renewed vigour that we will continue with the building of the Kingdom of God in our Lebombo community.  
May  our  Lord  Jesus  Christ  and  His  Blessed  Mother  hold  you  their  loving  embrace and bless you abundantly.  

Jean-Pierre Le Scour


You remain in our thoughts and prayers.
Fr. JPM Le Scour, M.Afr


Funerals of Father Sébastien Ndrutsomi in South Africa

Bishop Joe Sandri_modifié-1According to Jean-Pierre Le Scour and Chrispin Vungwa, it was the will of Sébastien that he should be buried on the Parish grounds in Kamhlushwa near the grotto, would the unlikely event of his death occur. Unfortunately, it has happened. But after consulting with the Sector Council of South Africa, the Provincial of SAP Christopher Chileshe and the Bishop Joe Sandri, the programme for the burial of Sébastien has been re-arranged as follows.
On Friday evening the 10th January and through the night, there will be a Prayer Vigil for Sébastien at Kamhlushwa. At around 5am on Saturday morning, a memorial service will be held. The body will then be taken to Maria Trost Diocesan Centre where a solemn Funeral Mass will be presided over by Bishop Sandri, assisted by our Provincial if he can make it, at around 10am. Sébastien will then be laid to rest in the Diocesan cemetery. The people from the community of Kamhlushwa who wish to accompany Sebastien to the cemetery are invited to hire a bus. A financial contribution could be asked from the people but the Missionaries of Africa are willing to pay to the costs. 
Dear Jean-Pierre, Chrispin and Samuel, we keep you in our prayers. We are all affected by the sudden death of our brother Sébastien but you are certainly more affected than anybody else. Be strong. 
Philippe Docq 2012The provincial from PAC, Placide Lubamba, is in communion with us. A memorial
Mass will take place in DRCongo at the same time as our funeral Mass meaning at about 9am local time in Congo. A message using SMS will be sent at the very moment when Mass is starting.
Let us continue to thank God for all that Sébastien was for many people, being the zealous missionary we know of him. Let us pray for his family back in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Let us pray for our confreres of Lebombo who will feel bitterly his absence. May he rest in peace!
Philippe Docq, M.Afr
Raymond McQuarrie 2Latest news from Raymond A. McQuarrie, M.Afr.
Yesterday evening at 5pm we celebrated Mass in St. Kizito church in Kamhlushwa in memory of our dear brother Sébastien. The church was completely full, and one could see and feel the real sense of loss and sorrow among the people.  Many local priests attended and the Mass was presided over by Fr. Protas Zwane, the Vicar General in Witbank Diocese.
The Community of Lebombo asked me if I would be able to do the homily for the Memorial Mass. I felt truly privileged to be asked to do this and I thank the Community for affording me this honour.
As we celebrated our Lord Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection in the Memorial Mass, we also celebrated the life of our dear brother Sébastien, despite the deep sadness and grief we all felt. Emotions were very high.
We read out some of the beautiful words of consolation from Bishop Sandri’s e-mail as we celebrate the Epiphany, the manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ among us. He offered this comfort that our brother Sébastien now experiences, in the peace of Christ, that great vision.
The Confreres and entire parish are in shock, but people are rallying together around their priests in busy preparation of the ceremonies for our brother Sébastien’s final farewell.
With every good wish and God bless.
On behalf of the Southern Africa Province
Our condolences to all our confreres of South Africa, especially Jean-Pierre Le Scour, Affian Samuel Affoumane and Chrispin Vungwa of Lebombo.
Serge St-Arneault, M.Afr, Provincial Secretary
Other news: 

Tragic car accident of Sébastien Ndrutsomi in South Africa

Ordination to the Diaconate of Antony Alckias and Tomasz Podrazik

Tomasz Podrazik 2013Antony Alckias 2013The ordination of Antony and Tomasz took place on the 14th December 2013 at Saint Raphael Parish, Kwa Mzimba, Archdiocese of Durban, South Africa. His Eminence Wilfrid Cardinal Napier OFM, Archbishop of Durban confer the diaconate to our new confreres. The location of the church is also known as Henley where our confreres are ministering, Philippe Docq being the Parish Priest.
The liturgy was well prepared with songs mainly in isiZulu but also in English, Kiswahili and Lingala. Many confreres were present including Fr. Jos Van Boxel from Rome and Bishop Jan De Groef of Bethlelem Diocese in South Africa.
The Christian Communities of KwaMzimba – St. Raphael, Enthembeni – St. Pius, KwaDeda – Our Lady of Fatima, KwaGezubuso – St. Veronica, and KwaNgubeni – St. Joseph congratulate the new Deacons.
The Missionaries of Africa, Merrivale Formation House Community, thank wholeheartedly also all those who responded to the invitation to this ordination and in a special way those who have contributed to prepare this celebration.
Our Lady, Queen of Africa
Pray for us!

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Missionary Oath of Antony Alckias and Tomasz Podrazik in Merrivale, South Africa


Opening of the Fr. Louis Blondel Centre Diepsloot, South Africa

Diepsloot Centre Opening 2013-10-18 064Last week was a particularly bad week for the Diepsloot community, a sprawling township of tin shacks and hunger on the outskirts of Johannesburg. Two toddlers aged three and two had been found murdered and raped and the community was rightly enraged. This was the Missionary of Africa parish where Fr. Louis Blondel was brutally murdered some four years ago, by a group of teenage tugs.  At that time Louis had a vision of building a Community Centre with the particular intention of taking care of the very youth who murdered him.
The violent scenes in Diepsloot were offset by celebrations in another part of the township where a life was celebrated and love and hope enkindled. This Centre is a gift from the Blondel family to the youth of Diepsloot and will make them realise they are not alone in their poverty, there are those who care and those that want them to have a better chance in life. The Archbishop of Pretoria William Slattery asked the community to accept the gift there were been given in memory of Louis, and said they should care for it as it was their centre. He assured the community that Louis’s spirit would always be there with them, watching over them and encouraging their efforts towards a better life.
His sister Francoise and her husband Alphonse had travelled from France to be there for the opening. His sister described the opening as emotional but also a happy one because it kept his legacy alive. She said the realisSeán_O'Learyation of this dream could be the first step towards reconciliation. She went onto say “we are not angry and there is no vengeance in our hearts, and this could lead to full forgiveness”.
With Louis’s sudden death and the remaining confreres Guy Bourgeois suffering a stroke six months later, the Missionaries of Africa were forced to hand over the parish to the Archdiocese. The Centre now remains a fitting legacy to a wonderful man and our short presence in Diepsloot.
Seán O’Leary M.Afr

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Michel MeunierSee also one article written by Michel Meunier, M.Afr for MISSION MONTH (one for the Archdiocesan newspaper (ADnews) and two for the weekly national newspaper (The Southern Cross).
From a Mission Church to a Missionary Church
From yoyo to hula hoop
 See also the following link:

Father Louis Blondel Centre


Quarterly meeting in South Africa

Didier Michon, George Okwii,  Chrispin Edgar Vungwa, Jean-Pierre Le Scour, Raymond McQuarrie,  Mathieu Van Vlierden, René Garand, Philippe Docq, Didier Lemaire. In front: Michel Meunier, Samuel Affoumane, Martin Somda
Didier Michon, George Okwii, Chrispin Edgar Vungwa, Jean-Pierre Le Scour, Raymond McQuarrie, Mathieu Van Vlierden, René Garand, Philippe Docq, Didier Lemaire. In front: Michel Meunier, Samuel Affoumane, Martin Somda

Here are some pictures taken at our last quarterly meeting. Here it is the mass to close the antislavery campaign. Recollection, input, business meeting, fraternal gathering: all that to reinforce our missionary commitment.

Pictures sent by Didier Lemaire, M.Afr

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Father Louis Blondel Centre

Louis-BlondelThe Father Louis Blondel Centre is the result of a team work inspired by a man whose life has been dedicated to the poorest and to the loneliest. Fr Louis spent more than 22 years in South Africa, as a missionary of Africa, and was involved in many supportive projects in Soweto, Zondi and Orange Farm. In 2008, he decided to stay in Diepsloot and was planning a youth centre when his life was cut short and he was shot dead by an intruder on the night of the 6th December 2009.
This Centre is dedicated to the upliftment of the Youth of Diepsloot and may it become a beacon of reconciliation in our still violent and divided Society.
It is with thanks to the family and Friends of Fr. Louis and the French business community who funded the building. A special thanks to Lafarge SA and Prominent Paints.
Louis Blondel Centre 02

Ministry of Michel Meunier on modern slavery in South Africa

OIKOS LogoOn the 2nd August, I gave a talk to students & professors of Cedara (St. Joseph Institute) where our theology students go. There were about 50 people; the biggest attendance they ever had! A proof that modern slavery is a very hot topic! It had been organised by the OIKOS group, of which Antony Alckias is the Secretary. He is one of our students who should be ordained deacon in December.

As I was speaking to philosophy & theology students and teachers, I started with a quick overview of the attitude of the Church towards slavery through the ages followed by a brief history of Lavigerie’s antislavery campaign.

The big question is: what is the Church doing? The Counter Trafficking In Persons (CTIP) Office at the Bishops’ Conference (SACBC) published all kinds of posters & flyers to bring more consciousness. They had a 3 day seminar in April and started a Truck Drivers’ Anti-Trafficking group. They will soon publish a small book “The Church and Anti-Trafficking”. The Sisters seem to have more roles to play, as most trafficked people are women and children.

United in the same Mission,Michel Meunier

Michel Meunier, M.Afr

Also: South Africa Human Trafficking Bill Signed Into Law

Article of Nzimeni Jeremiah Gama, OMI

So called Zone of Primary Evangelization!

The first missionaries of Africa arrived in South Africa in 1972 in view of ministering to Malawian mineworkers who needed pastoral and spiritual care. Over time, our missionary vision developed into parishes and a formation house in theology.
I consider myself working in a zone of primary evangelization. Many friends of mine think that I am sent to people who do not know Jesus yet, thus to people whose beliefs do not reflect Christian faith or in the midst of non-Christian believers. To make clear, I am sent amongst people who, in large majority, are Christian believers.
Those Christians belong to many hundreds of different churches whereby Roman Catholic Christians are a little minority. Even 80 % of our Catholics come from these other Christian Churches. Some of them belonged to one, two or three other churches before discovery the Catholic Church.
Many women become members of our Church by joining the religion of their husband. This is underpinned by cultural rule. Some who feel cheated, disappointed and confused by the leaders of their former Church also decide to join us seeking hope and newness. A good number is helped by friends to find their way to our Church.
Sebastien_Ndrutsomi_02Therefore, it is difficult to assess the knowledge or understanding of the Catholic faith of our followers. It is quite common to see young people coming to join our Church being the only member of their family to do so. I baptize many children without considering the faith and Christian life of their biological parents, but rather the faith of their grand-mothers who belong to our Church. Paradoxically, I am surprised with the pride of some catholic families. Though they may not practice their faith, they strongly affirm that they are Catholics. We also see children who were baptized in our Church going to pray elsewhere. Few old and young men are found in our Church.  Finally, many of our families are made up of single mothers and children. I also see some lapsed members coming back to be reintegrated. Who is supposed to receive Holy Communion and who is not? Only God knows!
Our challenge is to find the proper way to teach the Catholic Faith to Christians who are coming from other Christian doctrines. How do you ensure that the catechesis offered to them is carried throughout the life of a single Catholic member in the midst of other church goers? How can you expect to have catechists and community leaders to remain faithful to the teaching of the Gospel as presented by our Church taking into account their very shallow and mixed knowledge from previous churches? In our parish context, the primary evangelization is foremost a process of teaching and empowering the Catholic little minority in order to be loyal to Jesus Christ through a life of faith, hope and love.
Various seminars are organized for this purpose to enable the members of our Church to deepen their relationship with Christ, gain confidence and a sound sense of belonging. These formation days are strengthened by regular visits of communities and individuals. The aim is to cultivate a pedagogy that allows dialogue through sharing and debate with previous faiths in order to guide it through the clear doctrine of the Catholic Church. We are glad to see that the local Church is following this approach.
This has less to do with going to convert non-Christian believers, but it is positively to preach Jesus by revealing and professing the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church of Christ. Primary evangelization becomes a ministry to encounter the members of many Christian churches who want to believe in Jesus Christ, to celebrate and live his Gospel in the way our Church believes, celebrates and lives it. It is an internal dialogue between a Christian with a Catholic Christian. You may better think that the one who wants to embark on a catechetical journey with you is not a full Christian, but you may not change his mind; he knows that he is a Christian.
And what if he repeats: There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all… (Eph.4:5-6)

Sébastien Ndrutsomi, M.Afr

Slavery in South Africa between 1830s and 1850s

Illustrated history of South AfricaThey called their slave Inboekselings
In those stormy years between 1830s and 1850s the majority of Voortrekkers in the Transvaal were involved in a reprehensible though highly profitable occupation: the kidnapping of African children. It was a practice that sparked waves of terror in African homesteads. READ MORE
Slavery at the Cape
Jan Van Riebeck set foot at the Cape on 6 April 1652. His instructions from the Dutch East India Company were clear: he was forbidden to enslave the indigenous people of the Cape. However, slaves from elsewhere were another matter and in May 1652, only weeks after arriving at Table Bay, he asked for slaves to be sent to help erect the fort and till the land. For the first five years the only slaves at the Cape were stowaways or gifts from the captains of passing ships. In 1658 there were 11 slaves, eight women and three men.(…)
A History of South Africa to 1870Slavery – the imposition of enforced servitude by a powerful group on another group – inevitably breeds fear in both groups, and resentment in the oppressed. There was also tension among the whites, who constantly feared a mass rebellion and death at the hand of a slave. There was always the fear that slaves who had run away might return to rob and kill, and so large rewards were offered for their recapture. READ MORE
Thanks to Didier Lemaire, M.Afr for sharing those articles with us.


Communication from the Bishop’s Conference of Southern Africa regarding the highly controversial E-Tolling system

Raymond McQuarrie 2Dear Friends,
Please see below the communication from the Bishop’s Conference of Southern Africa regarding the highly controversial E-Tolling system.
This coming Saturday (25th May 2013), Fr. Mike Deeb (SACBC J&P Coordinator) and myself have called a meeting of all J&P groups and interested people, at the Regina Mundi Catholic Church in Soweto, at 10:30am, to look at how we as a Church can deal with this issue, and plan our campaign.
The press release itself can be used in your communities, prayer groups and Justice and Peace groups as a discussion paper which we hope will encourage you to further action.
Please be informed on this issue and contact the SACBC J&P Department should you like to know more on the Catholic Bishop’s stance.  Lots of information can be found online too.
With every good wish and God bless.
Raymond A. McQuarrie, M.Afr.
Vicar for Justice & Peace
Archdiocese of Johannesburg
Gauteng, South Africa
Justice and Peace Press Release on E-tolling
SACBC Justice and Peace Statement on E-Tolling and Gov Accountability

Human trafficking conference in South Africa, April 9 – 12, 2013

CTIP Human Trafficking LogoA Human Trafficking Conference, organized by Sr. Melanie O’Connor HF, Coordinator of the Counter Trafficking in Persons Office (CTIP) of the LCCL/SACBC, took place at The Good Shepherd Retreat Centre Haartbeespoort from the 9th till the 12th April 2013. During the Conference there was the launch of the TRUCKERS AGAINST HUMAN TRAFFICKING” campaign for which we congratulate FRUIT SPOT as being the first trucking company to engage in this project. Various speakers exposed the dangers of human trafficking, pointing out that truckers can play a significant role in safeguarding victims and potential victims in transportation by reporting offenders sometimes encountered especially at truck stops.
The role of the Church in the pastoral care of truck drivers who face long and hazardous journeys was emphasized. It was stressed that the Church should move from its traditional way of evangelization of waiting for people in church buildings to the new evangelization emphasized in the recent African Synod. Africa has become a continent where millions of people are either willingly or unwillingly daily on the move thus transforming African roads and streets into privileged places of evangelization and education. Therefore our Church should be seen as the Church on the Move.
The presence of over 15 Police units who man the borders of the Northern Cape was acknowledged and highly appreciated by all present as a source of strength in the fight against Human Trafficking. With many of the participants coming from different African countries and representatives from different agencies – NPA, US Embassy etc., religious and lay people, it became obvious that  networking is central to the success of the fight against this hydra-headed evil of our time.
One of the outcomes of the Conference was the commitment of each member to further the Truckers against Human Trafficking campaign in their various regions and countries.
A  COUNTER TRAFFICKING NETWORK COMMITTEE (CTNC) was established for easy and effective communication.
Sent in by: Sr. Melanie O’Connor (South Africa), Sabina Namfukwe (Zambia), Sr. Patricia Ebegbulem (Nigeria)
Picture below: participants of the Conference
Human trafficking conference SA 2013

Forth Phase Theological Studies in Merrivale, South Africa

Based in South Africa, Merrivale is our Forth Phase Theological Studies aiming at the formation of newTomasz Podrazik missionaries. Time is distributed between studies at St. Joseph’s Theological Institute in Cedara, personal and community prayer, apostolate and various community activities. Here is how Tomasz Podrazik is witnessing his life experience.
I appreciate the fact that our studies are taking place in the context of adaptation into a new milieu, a new country and culture. We get to know people through our apostolates, by reading newspapers, watching news and meeting personal friends. In this way, we begin to see the situation of the people from a different angle. Their life story marks their hearts deeply. As a missionary candidate, I see the importance to learn from the people. A confrere who went back to his native country told us recently that he was still searching for a deeper understanding of the local culture up to his final departure. Indeed, the mission of Jesus Christ is an unending one. No matter how little my contribution might be, it is precious because of being part of a global mission which is the establishment of the Kingdom of God.
At the moment, we are unable to foresee the future of our missionary life. Few days ago, someone showed me two photos. One was taken in 2005 in St Peter’s Square after the election of Benedict XVI. The other one was taken last month after the election of Pope Francis. The first photo portrayed the people waiting for the announcement of the new Pope. But, on the second one, every person had a stretched arm trying to take a picture using a mobile phone. It was a crowd of cell phones. Technology is only one example of changes which is taking place. Similarly, in a fluctuating world, we have to make an effort to be ready to adjust to unforeseen situations. Every possible future appointment will bring challenges which we are not able to anticipate.
In that regard, life at Merrivale can be stressful as we are precisely exercising in a spirit of openness our capacity of adaptation by facing for instance new commitments related to swooping duties within the community. The question is not only about being open towards future challenges but also about exercising the ability to leave the past behind and move forward right here in our formation house.
Tomasz Podrazik
St. Joseph’s Theological Institute has been registered with the South African Department of Higher Education and Training as a private higher education institution under the Higher Education Act, 1977 (Act No 101 of 1977). The Institute is home to more than 200 students and 40 staff members, comprising a mosaic of different cultures from more than 20 African countries, with frequent representation from Asia, Europe, South and North America. Apart from the cultural richness of our members, we are also blessed with the rich diversity of charisms with most students coming from more than 20 male and female religious congregations within the Catholic Church.

Forth Phase Theological Studies - Merrivale 2013

Below from the left: Edward Saguti /Tanzania; Paul Kikenge /DRC; Albert Kondomodre /Burkina Faso; Robin Simbeye /Zambia; Damian Ahimbisibwe /Uganda.
Standing from the left: Fr. Raphael Gasimba /DRC; Douglas Momanyi Ogato /Kenia; Fr. Francis Novienyeku /Togo; Br. James Calder/Canada; Konrad Millanzi /Tanzania; Ryan Contamina /Philipines; Alphonce Byishimo /Rwanda; Amani Bulambo Dieudonné /DRC; Fr. Quinbert Kinunda /Tanzania; Harrison Banda /Zambia; Tomasz Podrazik /Pooland; Antony Alckias /India; Claver Mutombo /DRC.