Month: January 2016 Page 1 of 2

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

Zambia Episcopal Conference Pastoral Statement – January 2016 (Summary)

ZEC Pastoral Statement LogoTo all Catholics and people of good will in Zambia!

We greet you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

As is our tradition, we hold the first plenary meeting in January of every year. It is the moment of grace during which we reflect and deliberate on our task as shepherds of the flock of the Catholic faithful in Zambia. In addition, we seize the occasion to review and evaluate the context within which we exercise our ministry of evangelization in order to discern our relevance to society as a Church. As pastors of the Church and teachers in the matters of faith and morals, we always feel duty bound to teach on issues affecting our faithful and the people of good will, for “woe to us if we do not preach the word of God in and out of season” (I Cor 9:16; 2 Tim 4:2).

Our country is moving towards the 2016 tripartite elections. Zambians should be looking forward to this occasion with joy and great expectation. Ideally, elections are supposed to provide an opportunity of choosing our desired representatives in Councils, Parliament and a President of our choice in peace and tranquillity.

However the political culture that persistently clouds our election does not depict a maturing democracy and maturing democrats. Zambia is paying a great price through political hooliganism and apparently the leadership in all our political parties has failed to uproot political violence. In some cases they actually seem to encourage and fan it by inflammatory speeches. We also don’t see perpetrators of violence in political parties punished by their own leadership.

We appeal for a new political spirit and a democratic culture among our political leaders and their members. Let us make 2016 different in terms of providing a better and tolerant political environment. Political party leaders at all levels must commit themselves to a peaceful electoral process and the control of their members. Political parties must choose candidates of good standing who are committed to the promotion of the common good.

We urge our leaders in government to be the torch-bearers in the promotion of true reconciliation and peace. The role of the District Commissioner (DC) in this electoral process must be watched and seriously scrutinised. DCs should not act and work as party cadres wherever they are and using government resources.

We are very concerned about the selective application of the Public Order Act by the Police Service. In many cases, it is applied almost always in favour of the ruling party and those they favour. This disadvantages opposition political parties. Police must sternly but impartially apply the law to quell violence.

We advise the youths to claim their genuine political space in the electoral process. They should refuse to be used as mere tools of violence by politicians. We call upon the media to be professional by reporting truthfully, objectively and factually as they inform the public. We urge them to provide equitable coverage in the electoral process and avoid being fronts of partisan politics. Whichever media platform one uses, should not fuel hate speech or insults in the name of the right to freely express oneself. We also want a responsible use and reception of social media.

We urge all Christians to use their prophetic voice in their communities to promote unity in the country and to denounce all forms of fraud in the electoral process. We urge them to refuse any politician to use their churches and liturgical functions as campaign forums.

We call upon our fellow church leaders to remain non-partisan yet vigilant. They must also keep the prophetic voice alive and denounce all forms of electoral malpractice and political violence.

Likewise, we appeal particularly to our own catholic priests to remain non-partisan. It is morally wrong for the catholic priest to use the pulpit to campaign for, or de-campaign any political party or parties or to give politicians any platform to speak during liturgical celebrations.

After so many aborted processes and huge expenditure of public resources, the President took a bold step and assented to the amendments of our Republican Constitution on 5th January 2016. This was despite the unresolved contest with stakeholders on the process and mode of adoption. The question now arises as to what next?

Government has not given any road map for the post assenting period with respect to the application of the new Constitution. Even as we move towards August elections, the new Constitution has implications that impinge on the elections and this should be looked at.

Further, even when the constitution has been assented to, there have been no efforts to make it easily accessible and affordable to the majority Zambians. If the President made this constitutional assent in good faith, we appeal to him to prevail over relevant ministries and government departments to popularize the new constitution and publicise the post assent constitutional roadmap.

Prior to the enactment of the constitution, the government promised the public that those articles that would be left out shall be subjected to the referendum that would run concurrently with the tripartite elections.

Sadly, the Bill of Rights has been sidelined. Many of the constitutional changes we need to make that could improve the people’s quality of life and dignity hinge on reforming the bill of rights. It is imperative that a clear and well defined roadmap on the proposed referendum be presented to the nation.

A new dangerous phenomenon that has cropped up in the Zambian politics is that of regionalism and tribalism. We should all be proud of our ethnic roots and love each other as God’s children. No tribe is more valuable or important than the other. What makes us great is our unity in diversity and we should all thank God for it.

The transition from 2015 into 2016 can be classified as a challenging period in as far as livelihoods of Zambians is concerned. The cost of living has gone up due to escalation in inflation. We are experiencing massive loss of jobs for bread winners and households are being left with no income. Although the major cause in the slump of the economy has been attributed to external factors, and while appreciating what the government is doing to offset the challenge, this situation must be arrested locally. Government should demonstrate commitment to good stewardship of financial resources during this time.

We also strongly appeal to all companies and employers that before retrenchments are carried out, other measures to achieve financial solvency must be attempted.

Zambia is experiencing unfavourable rain pattern. This pattern shows that the country’s food security will be under extreme pressure. In the case of calamity such as this, we urge the Zambian Government to plan ahead so that no Zambian citizen should go without food this year. The relevant government ministries should mobilize resources to assist those who will be in dire need of help. However, food relief should be not used to gain political mileage.

The climate change calls us to re-examine the way we take care of our common home, the earth. Pope Francis cautions us that if we do not take personal as well as corporate responsibility for the earth which is our home, we will destroy the home for our future generation (Laudato si, 2015, #14).

We also urge the government to put in place strong measures to monitor the exploitation of natural resources in Zambia by investors, both foreign and local.

We call upon our brothers and sisters to take this year as the year of tolerance and love. In the words St. Paul the Apostle, we make a special appeal to you to “make [our] joy complete by being of a single mind, one in love, one in heart and one in mind. Nothing is to be done out of jealousy or vanity; instead, out of humility of mind everyone should give preference to others, everyone pursuing not self-interest but those of others” (Phi 2:2-4). Above all “do everything possible on your part to live in peace with everybody” (Rm 12:18).

We end with the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi: “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy.

O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love; For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; it is in dying that we are born again to eternal life.”

May the peace of the Lord remain with you all!

Issued at Kapingila House, Lusaka, Zambia on 23rd January, 2016 and signed by: Most Rev. Telesphore-George Mpundu, Archbishop of Lusaka and ZEC President, Rt. Rev. Alick Banda – Bishop of Ndola and ZEC Vice-President. Most Rev. Ignatius Chama, Archbishop Kasama and Apostolic Administrator of Mpika, Rt. Rev. Raymond Mpezele – Bishop of Livingstone, Rt. Rev. George Cosmas Zumaile Lungu – Bishop of Chipata, Rt. Rev. Charles Kasonde, Bishop of Solwezi, Rt. Rev. Evans Chinyama Chinyemba, OMI – Bishop of Mongu, Rt. Rev. Clement Mulenga, SDB – Bishop of Kabwe, Rt. Rev. Patrick Chilekwa Chisanga, OFM Conv. Bishop of Mansa, Rt. Rev. Moses Hamungole, Bishop of Monze, Rt. Rev. Benjamin Phiri – Auxiliary Bishop of Chipata, Rt. Rev. Aaron Chisha – Bishop Emeritus of Mansa. Mons. Justin Mulenga – Bishop Elect of Mpika

Click here to read the FULL PDF DOCUMENT of the Zambia Episcopal Conference Pastoral Statement – January 2016

Declaration of Intent of Guelord Mahongole Luvuluholo, Kasama, Zambia

Guelord`s Declaration of Intent Jan 16 02bFr Michael Mawelera, M.Afr
Last Sunday, 24th January, 2016, at the 7.00 AM Mass, our stagiaire Guelord Mahongole Luvuluholo renewed his Declaration of Intent in the presence of Fr Francis Bomannsan who represented the Society of the Missionaries of Africa, Fr Michael Mawelera, animator of St. Charles’ Community to which Guelord belongs and Fr Luc Antaya, Parish Priest of St. Anne’s Parish in which Guelord does his ‘stage’ experience.
The ceremony itself was simple but prayerful, solemn and meaningful. In the evening the confreres of Lualuo Spiritual Formation Centre and those of St. Charles’ gathered together for supper at St. Charles in honour of Guelord.
The St. Anne’s Parish community and the confreres in Kasama are happy that Guelord has made this step in his formation process. We pray for, support and encourage him to continue pursuing his vocation in the Society of the Missionaries of Africa.

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

The true size of Africa

The true size of AfricaAfrica is much bigger than you think. In fact, it is larger than the USA, China, India, Japan and all of Europe combined! The problem is that the world isn’t flat, but the maps we use are, and it is really difficult to flatten a sphere into a square. This means that our traditional maps are distorted, with countries artificially enlarged the closer we get to the poles, giving the impression that Africa is about the same size as Greenland. However, Africa is in fact 14 times larger than Greenland.

Our traditional maps are relics of Euro-centric colonial days. They are simply representations of the world through the lens of their creator. Why is Europe normally in the centre?

Why is north up, when there is no concept of up in space? South is associated with poverty and lack of development, and even our language is full of negative connotations for “down”, such as “down in the dumps”, while “up” has positive ones such as “on top of the world”, as pointed out by Africa Check.

The map shows how big Africa is. However, in the mental map of many non-Africans it occupies almost a single point, which probably contains features such as famine and disease; safari and animals; Nelson Mandela; the Lion King; genocide in Rwanda and Darfur and perhaps rape in the DR Congo; and Ebola.

See PDF file on the following link: The true size of Africa

Source: Zambia Weekly … for busy people, Week 4, 22 January 2016, Issue 260, Volume 7, page 12.

There’s always a political dimension to what people do in life, says Archbishop Gallagher.


There’s always a political dimension to what people do in life, says Archbishop Gallagher.

Last November 9, 2015, Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, Secretary for Relations with States of the Holy See, pay a visit to Zambia to commemorate the 50th anniversary of diplomatic links between the Vatican and Zambia. A Eucharistic celebration took place at the Cathedral of Child Jesus in Lusaka followed by a reception at the Apostolic Nunciature. In his remarks, his Excellency Gallagher made an historical review of the presence of the Catholic Church in Zambia mentioning that: Next year (2016) will mark the 125th anniversary of the foundation of the first Catholic missions, established by the Missionaries of Africa (popularly known as the “White Fathers”), who arrived in district of Kasama in 1891.

Click here to see the full PDF content of the review.

Our SAP Provincial, Stanley Lubungo, was present. Members of the Choir of St. Ignatius Parish and of the “Communauté Catholique Francophone de Lusaka” led by Sonia and Michel Somwe entertained the invited guests.

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

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)

What an enriching experience in Namushakende! – Zambia


Mathew W. Banseh in Namushakende

By Mathew W. Banseh

On the 22nd December, Romaric Bationo, Alain-Christian Muhineza and I left Lusaka for Namushakende, located in Mongu diocese. On the political map of Zambia, Namushakende is a district in the Western Province. This was my first time to visit this part of Zambia which coincided with Christmas and the New Year holidays.

We travelled very well and we got the pleasure to drive through the Kafue National Park but only saw few wild animals. We greeted Bishop Evans Chinyemba on our arrival in Mongu before proceeding on our journey to our destination. We were well received with a barbecue and I was touched by the joy that animated the community.

The Catholic population is very humbling. On Christmas Eve, I saw just a few lay faithful at Mass in the main parish church. I was wondering how it must be in outstations. Asking Alfred Awogya, the Parish Priest, about the few attendance of Christians, I came to realise that this was the usual number of faithful coming to pray.

Though few in number, the hospitality and the quality of relationship is remarkable. In outstations, we always have a meal before going back to Namushakende. Though I could not speak the local language, I was invited to visit homes. I was very touched by the simple lifestyle of the people. In cities, properties are protected with walls and iron gates. But most houses I visited have no fence. Many inside rooms have no proper doors but a simple piece of cloth to prevent people from seeing inside. Houses are made out of thatch roofs. Instinctively, contrary to my confreres, I was always locking the door of the car. “Don’t worry, they were telling me, nobody will steal anything here.”

I also got the opportunity to see the Queen of the Lozi land. Being a Catholic, she invited us to celebrate Mass at her palace since she cannot, by tradition, go to church. I also went to see the place where our confreres go learning silozi when they are appointed to that part of Zambia. I discovered that the Lozi people are proud of is the Zambezi River and I was privileged to touch its water.

I really enjoyed my short stay over there and I thank our confreres for everything. Luitumezi (Thank you)!

Death announcements; the sister of Antoon Oostveen and the father of Deogratias Ngowi

Antoon_OostveenFrom Antoon Oostveen: I received Friday night the sad news that my sister, Tonny, passed away. She had just become 84 years. Though her mind was very clear and alert, her physical health had been diminishing more and more over de past years. She was the first born of 14 children and had been a very loving 2nd mum to all of us. May she now rest in peace with God.

Deogratias-Ngowi-2014From Luigi Morell: Dear Confreres, this is to inform that we received the news that the father of Fr Deogratias Ngowi died on the 9th January in the hospital at Moshi. He will travel to Tanzania on Monday. The burial is expected to take place on Wednesday or Thursday near Moshi, where the family plot is. Deo’s father was hospitalised a few days ago. They found the sugar level quite high and he was confused. They managed to lower the sugar level to the usual level, but the situation did not improve. So other tests were taken. But his condition deteriorated and died around 16:00. He was 77 years old. Deogratias plans to be away until 4th February.

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