Present Magazine, December 2016 – A Newsletter for the Candidates and Students of the Missionaries of Africa, Zambia.

12-present-magazine-dec-2016-logoGreetings from Kolibo and may the Lord be with you always! Merry Christmas and a happy New Year 2017!

pre-mag-dec-2016-01-copieChristmas is a time for us Catholics to rejuvenate and gain more strength to follow Christ the Saviour and the Redeemer of the world. Jesus, the Son of God, has come to free the world from its bondage of sin and corruption. The Light has come into our darkened and broken heart. May this Light shine evermore in us throughout 2017!

2016 has been a very busy in the Office of vocation promotion in Zambia coinciding with the 125 anniversary of the Catholic Faith in Zambia under the theme: “Planted in our families!” It began with the coming of the Missionaries of Africa in Mambwe-Mwela in July 1891 currently situated in the Archdiocese of Kasama. The official opening of the 125 years commemoration took place on the 6th August on the very same spot when the first Missionaries planted their tents.

This year has been a blessing for our Sector of Zambia with the perpetual Oath and Ordinations of Brother Sense Moses Simukonde and Brother Elvis Ngandwe respectively on April 30 in Nairobi, Kenya, and July 2 in Chingola, Zambia. From St Paul Nchelenge parish, Mansa diocese, Fredrick Mulenga together with Martin Kasongo from St Stephen parish Chingola, Ndola diocese were ordained Deacons on 10th December 2016 in Abidjan, Ivory Coast.

Rev. Fr. Sylvester Chimenge cardPRIESTLY ORDINATIONS:

On the 06th August in the Cathedral of Ndola, Fr. Sylvester Chimenge was ordained Priest. He celebrated his thanksgiving mass on the 07th August in Chibuluma Parish. The parish priest and his council made it a joyful lively celebration. A good number of Missionaries of Africa and a White Sister were present to grace the event. Fr. Chimenge is now in Tanzania for his missionary ministry.


On the 19th November at St Monica in Kabwe, Fr. Robbin Simbeye was ordained Priest. The Bishop had combined the closing of the Jubilee Year of Mercy and the ordination. Many people came to attend the celebration. The following day, in the same parish, He celebrated his thanksgiving mass full of joy and jubilation. Fr. Robbin is going to Tunisia (North Africa), for his missionary work.

ON APOSTOLIC TRAINING (Pastoral): We have 4 zambian students who are on pastoral; Rodgers Mwansa (from Mazabuka) in Tanzania; Biness Chungu (from Chingola) in Niger; Emmanuel Banda (from Katete) in Niger and Grant Chansa (from Luanshya) in Mali.

SPIRITUAL YEAR (Noviciate): In July 2016, we escorted Leonard Katulushi from Sacred Heart parish, Kabwe to Bobo-Dioulasso in Burkina Faso. He has received the habit on the 22 October 2016. Blessed spiritual journey!

pre-mag-dec-2016-04OUR STUDENTS IN PHILOSOPHY: They are 10 who are studying philosophy in Balaka (Malawi). They are happy and are progressing well in their studies. 3rd Years: Evans Mwila (Ndola), Horris Banda (Katete), Ivor Mutamba (Lusaka). 2nd Years: Darious Mwape (Mansa), Kelvin Mutalala (Chingola), Louis Kangwa (Kasama), Sandram Mwanza (Mukushi), Vincent Mutale (Chongwe). 1st Years: Enest Katema (Mansa), Peter Nkhoma (Chipata).


The vocation and missionary animation is a busy office where correspondance with aspirants all over Zambia is done from. The address is still the same over 26 years now. We thank God for his grace of vocation in Zambia


The group of April (1st to 13th) in Serenje, I was helped by Fr. Frederic, parish priest of St Lawrence (Lusaka): Embarking for a pic-nic, last day before the departure. They are from Lusaka, Mongu, Kasama, Kapiri-Mposhi, Chingola, Kitwe, Mpika. Extreme left, Fr Frederic, and Extreme right Fr Camillo.

pre-mag-dec-2016-07The group of August (15th to 27th) in Lavigerie formation centre Chipata: From Kitwe, Chingola, Lusaka, Serenje, Kasama, Nchelenje; With Frs Jean Luc Gouiller and Henk van Kessel.

The group of December (16th to 22nd) in Serenje was a program for those who have completed Grade 11 and are now going to Grade 12. This is to encourage and journey with our
pre-mag-dec-2016-09aspirants for a good period of time as they discern their vocation. I was helped by Innocent Majune Stagiaire in Serenje.

CHIPATA PRE-FIRST PHASE IS KNOWN AS LAVIGERIE FORMATION HOUSE CHIPATA don’t miss it when passing along the Chipata Malawi border, 6,5 Km from town. We have 07 students from Zambia. 

Wishing you God’s blessing!


Official Opening of the Formation House 18th November 2016

chipata-formation-centre-logoThe official opening of our Pre-First Phase Provincial formation Centre of the Missionaries of Africa, called Lavigerie Formation Centre, will take place on November 18.

Under the jurisdiction of the Southern Africa Province (SAP), namely Zambia, South Africa, Mozambique and Malawi, the Centre welcomes young aspirants from those countries for their first experience in an international setup in view of sending them to Balaka, Malawi, for their studies in Philosophy. The formation Centre has a capacity of welcoming twenty aspirants.

The guest of honor, Lord Bishop George Lungu of Chipata, will preside over Mass.

Timetable of the day: 10:00 Mass – 13:00 Snacks and refreshments – 15:00 Entertainment

Venue: Lavigerie formation Centre, Malawi road, after Luthembwe Bridge, Chipata, Zambia.


Newsletter South Africa No 68 – 27th October 2016

newsletter-south-africa-no-68-titlenewsletter-south-africa-no-68-ordainedGreetings! Surely, a very important event which took place on 1st October is the ordination to the diaconate of 6 of our students in Merrivale. Being at the end of their third year of theology in Cedara, they were ordained deacons. They are Alfred and Daniel (both Rwandese), Amorain (Togolese), Anthony (Ghanaian), Eric, (Mexican) and Theophile (Burkinabe). On the same day, eleven candidates of second year received the order of acolyte, their first step toward priesthood. They are Philippe (Malian), Christopher (Zambian), Martin, Robert and Victor (all Burkinabe), Éric and Pierre (both Congolese), Ryan (Filipino), Silas (Burundian), Dominic (Indian), and Francis (Nigerian).

Our deacons ordained last year – now in their fourth and last year of theology – will, in the coming weeks, go to their respective home-countries to be ordained priests and take a well-deserved holiday with their families. After two or three months’ rest, they will go to the missions where they have been appointed. They are Robin (Zambian, appointed to Tunisia), Damian (Ugandan, appointed to DR Congo), Alphonse (Rwandese, appointed to Burkina Faso), Albert (Burkinabe, appointed to Tunisia) and Konrad (Tanzanian, appointed to South Africa). CONGRATULATIONS to all! We place you all in our prayers that you may be good and faithful missionaries. These are really good news to celebrate Mission Month!

As we prepare to celebrate the 150th anniversary of our foundation (1868-2018), we rejoice in having so many young Africans joining our ranks! At present there are 492 students in our formation programme (all in different African countries); 90% of them come from within Africa. During the first hundred years of our existence, our candidates came from Europe and North America. In Africa, our priority was to promote the diocesan clergy, and not our own missionary Society; we wanted first to establish a strong local Church. Only in the last 30 to 40 years have we started to recruit in Africa for our own. At present, 284 of our members are African. Our new Superior General and 2 of his 4 assistants are from Africa. Thus, we are starting to fulfil the wish of our founder: the initial work of evangelisation would be done by European and North American M.Afr., but it would be continued by the Africans themselves! Yet, we are still waiting and hoping for some South Africans to join us!

newsletter-south-africa-no-68-pdf-coverThis month, Patrick, our only candidate, wrote from Ghana. Here is a short excerpt from his email (in the box to the right). As you can see, we put a lot of emphasis on the learning of the local language, so we may be closer to the heart of the people we work with. Also, I had a chance to visit Pascal (see last month’s Newsletter) on 13th October in Assisi; he is really working hard on learning Zulu! Keep it up, Pascal! In Henley, they are waiting for you!

God bless you as his missionary. Fr. Michel Meunier, M.Afr

Newsletter South Africa No 61 – 28th March 2016

Newsletter no 61 logoGreetings and Joy in the Risen Christ! I hope you had a wonderful Lenten journey. Yes, today, we celebrate Easter, the very core of our Christian life. “If Christ is not risen, then our faith is useless” (1 Cor. 15: 14). Therefore, it must show in our lives by the way we smile, help others, behave well, speak well of others, etc. Joy is contagious and can change our world for the better.

John 11-25-26On 28th February, about fifteen youths gather for the day at the Johannesburg Cathedral for a vocation discernment day. Many of them have very good intentions, but the difficult part is to take the plunge! To resolve to give one’s life totally to God is a difficult decision to make for most of them. It is much easier to follow the stream of ordinary life with all its worldly attractions than to devote one’s life to become an apostle. In a letter to young people participating at the 2015 European Meeting of Youth (August 2015), Pope Francis encouraged them “not to conform themselves to a mediocre1 life without aspirations.” One day, a missionary priest was asked why he had chosen this vocation; he simply answered “to comfort the disturbed and to disturb the comfortable”. And for this, he had left the comfort of a good family and many friends, and the possibility of having a very good profession and raising his own family. Most importantly, he always reflected the joy of the Gospel!

This month, most priests have been busy with the sacrament of reconciliation in many parishes around. We feel that there is a return of people to receive this beautiful sacrament of the mercy of God. Most people come with a real and sincere desire to improve their lives as regards their relationship with God and their neighbours. For us, priests, it is a very enriching experience allowing us to enter the hearts of our Christians. We really fall in admiration in front of the humility and honesty of the penitents. Each person is sacred and bears the image of God implanted in their inner self. On Wednesday 16th March, Fr. Christophe and I have the pleasure to receive a new member in our community in the person of Fr. George Okwi, M.Afr. Fr. George, a Ugandan, comes with a vast experience of different countries of Africa and Europe where he also did some studies. Welcome, Fr. George, we are happy to have you in Edenglen to help us share the work!

The Easter Season is here, and I would like to wish you all a very HAPPY EASTER! Surely, it is a time of renewal in the Risen Lord, a time to feel more and more how much he is with us and wants to transform our lives so we may bear his image in us and be a source of inspiration for others. Let us ask Mary – who surely was the first to receive her son’s visit after his resurrection – to inspire us in living as “resurrected people”. Let us “ask the Virgin Mary, the silent witness to the death and resurrection of Her Son, to make the joy of Easter grow in us.” (Pope Francis’ message, Easter 2015) The Holy Week was surely marred by acts of terrorism in many places in Europe and Africa, and violent demonstrations and crimes in South Africa; on the other hand, this month, there were five elections and referendums in different countries of Africa; this is a clear sign of hope: democracy is growing. Jesus came to destroy death and bring new Life. Let us be signs of this new Life of our Risen Lord in each one of us.

God bless you! Fr. Michael Meunier, M.Afr

Newsletter South Africa No 59 – 29th January, 2016

Newsletter South Africa no 59 titleMy dear Friends, Compliments of the season (as people say)! Happy New Year! Until the end of this month, I always take the liberty to wish people a Happy New Year; after all, there are still eleven months of it!

Merciful Father2I hope you have entered gracefully (or in a grace-filled way) in this Jubilee Year of Mercy! Yes, as you know, Pope Francis has declared this year, starting on 8th December last year until the 20th November this year (Feast of Christ the King), a special time to live by and with the mercy of God. “Jesus Christ is the face of the Father’s mercy”, says the Pope. The theme he gives to this yearlong celebration is “Merciful like the Father” (see Luke 6: 36). Very interestingly for us on the African continent is that on 29th November – 9 days before the official opening in Rome – Pope Francis opened the Holy Door of Mercy in the Central African Republic’s capital before the beginning of Sunday Mass. He decided to open the Holy Door in the cathedral of Bangui as a sign of prayer and solidarity with the country and the rest of the continent. This is the first time in history that a Jubilee year is opened outside of Rome! This gave a lot of courage to the people of the Central African Republic – not only Catholics – to go and vote in the presidential elections, in spite of the threats received from militias telling them not to vote!

The people just ignored their bullets and these terrorists felt powerless in front of God’s power: this was a miracle, a sign from God brought through Pope Francis!

From 4th to 7th January, we had our Sector Meeting in Haartbeesport Dam, at the Good Shepherd Centre. We had a good time of reflection, prayer, discussion and planning for our work in South Africa.

Our new deacons who went to Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia during their Christmas holidays (see last month’s Newsletter), came back on different days around mid-January. You should have seen the joy beaming from their eyes as they explained all what they had been doing during this short pastoral experience in their respective parishes. It reminded us of the return of the seventy disciples after Jesus had sent them on their first mission (See Luke 10: 17-20). They were really thrilled to have been able to proclaim the word of God in their own way. This was surely a great experience for them, awaiting their priestly ordination after this last year of theological studies.

On 16th January, in Pretoria Cathedral, with two of our deacons, we took part in the closing Mass of the Year of Consecrated Life. The Cathedral was full and the choir helped us wonderfully to sing the praises of God who has chosen so many Religious Sisters, Brothers and Priests to work in his vineyard. As this event took place just before the annual Episcopal Conference meeting, thirty one bishops from South Africa and as far as Botswana and Swaziland were present. Many lay people also joined in the celebration.

As you see, this month, this Newsletter comes to you a few days late. The main reason is that I was busy conducting the annual retreat for some of our seminarians of Merrivale. Indeed, from 21st to 27th January our five new deacons – the sixth one, Douglas, is already home in Kenya awaiting his priestly ordination -, plus eleven of the students and two of their formators (Fr. Réal, the rector, and Fr. Luigi) were with me in John Paul II Pastoral Centre of Bethlehem Diocese (Free State). For six full days, they were really praying and meditating on God’s word and sharing the daily Eucharist in an atmosphere of silence and reverence, listening to the Holy Spirit speaking in their hearts.

On 10th February, Ash Wednesday will launch us in the wonderful time of Lent. I therefore wish you a very good and fruitful time of following the Lord through his Passion, Death and Resurrection.

God bless you!

Fr. Michael Meunier, M.Afr

Newsletter South Africa No 59b2

Pre-First Cycle Formation Centre, Chipata, January to June 2016 In-Take.

Propaedeutic 01_modifié-1By Fr. Camille Konkobo

The Southern African Province has made it possible to have their own ‘Propaedeutic’, meaning a Centre that welcomes young men of between 20 and 26 years of age. They have heard the call of God and want to confirm it through community, prayer and human life. The Centre is situated in Chipata, Eastern Province of Zambia along Malawi Road, about 6 Km from town.

We have received 18 students, 6 from Mozambique, 7 from Malawi and 5 from Zambia. We had our official opening Mass on the 17th January and have started our program.

Formators: Fr. Camille Konkobo, Fr. Timothée Bationo and Br. René Garand

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My already three months’ journey at the Spiritual Formation Centre, Kasama 2015-2016

Peter Bwire Jan 2016b_modifié-1By Peter Bwire (from Kenya)

The three months have been a period to establish my inner relationship with God in the person of Christ. This has partly been achieved through prayers, actually the journey continues. I have discovered that my spiritual strength is entirely dependent on my regularity in prayer. Prayers, especially those personal ones, have become not just a routine but a necessity for the success of the day and other events. I have discovered that without a short prayer or a reflection before undertaking my day`s activities, these seem heavier if not complicated unlike when I prayed, they seem easier and sometimes I truly experience God`s intervention. I have had this experience in three areas of my formation here.

The first area is my family and life story. The guidance of my spiritual companion, reflection, meditation and pondering on my past, all this has really bared fruits; I experienced a forgiving and a healing God. I experienced a relief as the pain, resentments, memory of bitterness and guilt left my heart. This indeed was one of my personal objectives – to learn to forgive myself and other people, whom I feel, added some dirty water in the flow of my river of life.

Another area was, in my daily activities, the programme within the house and the apostolate at the hospital. Whenever I have a short reflection or prayer before I set off for mass and then the hospital, I encountered an enriching day of apostolate. Sometimes I even wondered how I managed with my limited Bemba language. At times the fears disappeared; patients were welcoming and opened up to me and shared their conditions` experiences, unlike when I rushed or even left the house without any kind of reflective or prayerful envisioning of the day. In this second case, the apostolate seemed boring, tiresome, patients looked indifferent and sometimes unwelcoming. I even contemplated leaving the apostolate before time (11: 00 am).

The last area is the significant experience of my relationship within and outside the house. In the house, I have accepted each individual’s uniqueness and therefore my approach has been that of awareness both of the self and others. Through awareness, I have at least been able to learn and understand how my brothers wish to be related to. This was also one of my personal objectives and it coincides with the community`s third objective (i.e. to build an intercultural Missionaries of Africa’s community based on the Gospel values). In my relations outside the house, I have tried to keep a lower attachment to friends and families in order to keep the balance between the kind of comfort I get from outside and within the house. I am certain that whenever I feel more comfortable outside this house than within, then I am likely to seek more life outside than within the novitiate. This can affect my formation all together. I strongly believe that this balance has worked and I am convinced that the three months have been beneficial to me both within and outside the community. My family back in Kenya may be far but more present in me together with the family within this community of the spiritual year. I therefore continue to pray to God that I may be able to hold on to him as I deepen my relationship with him and may he help me to be true till the end of novitiate and thereafter.

Three months’ spiritual journey

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The clothing ceremony Mass at the spiritual formation Centre, Kasama, 2015-2016

Kasama 2015-2016 01cBy Angelous A. Kabika (from Tanzania).

Angelous A_d PNGOn the 8th December 2015, our community of Lualuo celebrated the feast of our Society. On the eve,  we had already celebrated the Silver Jubilee of Fr. Francis Bomansaan; we had a moving liturgy and his testimony at the end of the Eucharist boosted our spiritual lives. We wished him more jubilees to come. In these few lines below, I am going to focus just on the clothing ceremony which, according to the house custom, is celebrated on the same day as the feast of the society, that is, 8th December.

In an explosive Mass presided by Babaine Venerato, we were able to explore what means to put on a gandoura, rosary and burnous, what qualifies an attire to be right, and finally how ought we to aspire and inspire with our attire at the service to the African world.

Starting by sharing his experience whereby he had to put on a mechanic suit in order to help a stranded driver, he went on explaining how our right attires (gandoura, rosary and burnous) are just external symbols which stand for the internal symbol, meaning our attires should “inspire and aspire” others. It is a call to live our rightful vocation and our lives to the extent that we create positive impact on those we meet on our vocation journey. People need to see peace and contentment in us. If we always do good, we show people the way, the truth and life of holiness. “Embedded on right attires, commitment becomes a commitment, a vow becomes a vow and obedience becomes obedience”. Obviously, none of us alone can change the world but each one of us can make a difference in the life we are choosing. At least we are called to make a contribution in our community through acts of charity to one another. A simple gesture of charity can be fetching water when there is a shortage, working in the garden, cleaning around, passing on drinking at table; all those simple gestures we often ignore, yet have an impact on the community’s daily life. We have the ability actually to help one another around us before we can reach out to others. Therefore these simple acts of charity have enormous impacts on our own lives and on other peoples’ lives.

In addition, right skills and adequate information will qualify our right attires. If we are equipped with information and skills for the job we are called to do, we shall fit into the service to the African world. In other words we cannot give what we do not have. It is a call to know God’s love in our personal experiences and share this love to others. This knowledge however is personal and it is never read from books. The knowledge and skills about God’s love are extraordinary important in order to come up with what we can give to the African world.

It is from this point that Fr. Babaine touched the final question. How ought we to inspire and aspire with our right attire? How we live our right attires will be defined by availability to the job we are called to do. In other words Father Babaine invited us to be available to the service and to listen to the people we are sent to. No wonder Paul to the Romans puts it clear for us that we should weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice and finally to this we should help them (Romans 12,15).

Clothing ceremony

Some photos of the community and the teams (Spiritual Formation Centre, Kasama 2015-2016)

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Newsletter South Africa No 46 – 25th December, 2014

Newsletter South Africa no 46 logoMy dear Friends, HAPPY CHRISTMAS! May the birth of the Son of God among us (Emmanuel) fill you with hope and joy!

On 28th November, most of the M.Afr were in Merrivale to witness the missionary oath of one of our students from DR Congo, Serge Boroto. By taking his oath, Serge has become a full Missionary of Africa! The following day, Saturday morning at Henley Parish, he was ordained a deacon by our confrere Jan De Groef, Bishop of Bethlehem Diocese. Many of his relatives and friends came for the occasion and rejoiced with him and all of us for these happy events! Congratulations, Serge! We all pray for you to be a good and faithful servant of the Lord and of his Church in Africa!

Year of the Consecrated lifeOn 2nd and 22nd December, I took part in two meetings to prepare the great vocation youth rally which will take place on 7th February in Johannesburg, to celebrate the YEAR OF CONSECRATED LIFE. This special year proclaimed by Pope Francis on the 1st Sunday of Advent (30th November) has for theme Wake Up the World! Yes, all consecrated people – we all are, as per our baptism – , especially the religious priests, brothers and sisters, we ALL have to pray and work very hard in order to wake up our world to the reality of the presence of Jesus in our lives. This Year of Consecrated Life will last until 2nd February 2016. It is a golden occasion to pray more and reflect on our vocation…

Newsletter South Africa no 46 Tomb stone NdrutsomiFrom 11thto 20th December, I was in MariaTrost Pastoral Centre in Mpumalanga, giving a retreat to some Religious Sisters. I took the occasion to go to pray on the tomb of late Fr. Sebastian Ndrutsomi, M.Afr, who was killed in a car accident last January 5th. Let us pray for his eternal rest and for some young people generous enough to pursue a vocation to replace him in his work in the vineyard of the Lord. (See his profile on this PDF file)

This month, I had a few contacts with some youth interested to join us. One who used to search his vocation with us, has abandoned the idea and is pursuing some other studies. Another one has gone to another religious congregation who are not missionaries. Two others have showed some interest, but are still unsure. Let us pray for them all.

Newsletter South Africa no 46 ChristmasAnd those of you who have just written Matrics, we wish you all some good results.

Wishing you all a very Blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year. Above all, let us remember the real reason for Christmas!

“God so loved the world that He gave his only Son” (Jn. 3: 16)

God bless you all! Fr. Michael Meunier, M.Afr

Ongoing construction at the Preparatory Centre in Chipata, Zambia Updates November 2014

Prephase Chipata 06-11-2014 09 - CopyOngoing construction at the Preparatory Centre in Chipata, Zambia. Updates November 2014 in pictures.

Looking around; René Garand and Jean-Luc Gouiller.

See also the surrounding hills. Nice view indeed!

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Ongoing construction at the Preparatory Centre in Chipata, Zambia
Ground work at the Preparatory Centre in Chipata, Zambia

Stagiaires meeting in Lusaka


Stagiaires-meeting-Lusaka-ATop: Halen Kerketta (India), Victor Sambari Sanou (Burkinabe), Camille Konkobo, Vocation Director (Burkinabe), Philippe Dakono (Malian), Frédéric Abétertouo Somda (Burkinabe), Basile Adama (Togolese)
Below:  Jonas Michael Mensah (Ghanaian), Raphaël Patrick Sebyera Ndirenganya (Congolese), Élie Nyembo Sango (Congolese), Jean-Baptiste Todjro (Togolese), Jean-Paul Basikaba Evi (Congolese)
Read the report