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News from Sectors and Rome

The world of our ideas, Coping with Covid-19

Value of global vaccination

In looking at what sense people are making, or not, of what is happening in the world today concerning the pandemic of Covid-19, despite their endeavour to fight against it, there are some who are affirming that life is ok in spite of the Covid-19 pandemic. Others are pessimists who state that; alas friends, things will continue to be bad, we are damned!   The nihilists go as far as taking the view that life is just suffering after all and is not worth living – life is fundamentally meaningless.

To begin with, allow me to refresh your philosophy, as a prelude to my reflection on Covid-19. The perspective I ‘am about to share concerns idealism which hold the view that there is no external reality to material objects but only ideas of them existing in our minds (Omnia Vinieris, 2002). This is opposed to those who believe in the materiality of things – things as they are in themselves.

The view of idealism surfaced among ancient philosophers and religions and emphasises mental and spiritual components of experience and renounces to concepts of material existence. Plato believed that the physical world around us is not real, it is constantly changing and you can never say what it really is. There is a world of our ideas which is a world of unchanging and absolute truth. But does such a world exist independent of our human minds? Plato thought it does and that whenever we see something with or mind’s eyes we are using our mind to conceive of something in the ideal world. For example, when we conceive of moral perfection, he said, it exists in our mind even if we know there are no people who are morally perfect around us. So their idea of moral perfection came from the ideal world.

George Berkeley a philosopher and Anglican Bishop from Ireland stated that ideas come from God and so all humans are merely ideas in the mind of God. He further asserted that all ideas hostile to God’s infiniteness, permanence, and goodness such as the conception of death, hell and evil are flawed and wicked hallucinations and are not real. For some even Covid-19 is not real but a phantasy or an idea (my emphasis). Another philosopher pointed out that all objects of our perception and all natural phenomena are representations but the world as it is in itself (noumena), it is a world of the will. Does that mean we create objects, or the phenomena we see, hear or experience, to suit our will and our mind? Is that true?

Certainly, due to the number of deaths from Covid-19 and the related sicknesses, the world is shaken and some people have lost hope and are disgusted and fearful, while others are positive and holding on, saying: ‘it will come to pass’. It is not only the attack of Covid-19, but also its variants too which are worrying and exacerbating pessimism and nihilism despite scientific progress to find a remedy. Long lasting Covid-19 which can take over a year before being cured has been has been detected in some patients. Then, there has appeared the ‘The Indian Variant’ publicized on June 14 in the journal Lacent digital health Vol. 3 June/July 2021. The journal examined also the impact of the ‘Delta Variant’ in Scotland, where it had become the dominant strain. Researchers found that the risk of hospitalization from Covid-19 has doubled more due to patients infected with the ‘Delta Variant’, than with people infected with the ‘Alpha Variant’.

As can be seen, after the appearance of the ‘Indian Variant’, there emerged the ‘Delta Variant’, as if that were not enough, then the ‘Alpha Variant’ was detected in Scotland, with its own mutations which they also dubbed variants of concern. The ‘Alpha Variant’ attacks the immune system and is more infectious and is more worrisome. The ‘Delta Variant’ itself, also known as the fourth wave, identified in India, which caused a rapid rise in cases of infection and is a highly transmissible strain in Uk, has put countries in Europe, North America and Africa on watch. According to WHO this fourth wave (the ‘Delta Variant’) resists antibodies in our blood (needs higher levels antibodies to overcome it and causes relentless itching of the eyes and toothache). But the good news is that all the vaccines developed thus far can prevent people from developing severe diseases, hospitalization and death. All the vaccines are not 100% efficient but can prevent from severe diseases and are good enough. There is a reminder though that even if you have been vaccinated you can get infected but the disease will be mild. So get a complete vaccination to protect yourself and avoid infecting other people.

In some developed countries though there are rapid rises cases of Covid-19, more than 25,000 a day, they are planning to remove face masks, stop social distancing and are advising people to go back to work because the vaccine roll out is working for those fully vaccinated. What a shift!  This is a talk of forward and backwards: “it’s look and see, take care of yourself”. The leaders of states are on one side and the people are on the other side.  Most people oppose it because they fear that there will be more hospitalizations as the number of cases will surge.

There has been also notable vaccine pessimism; this is a wonder and something curious. There have been ideas of disinformation and theories of conspiracy across the spectrum of people, even among scientists themselves who have developed the vaccines; ‘I will wait and see’, some say. As has been noted, among those first to be vaccinated were health workers such as doctors, nurses, and other health workers. Surely can the whole world afford to lose all these populations of health workers so that we are left bereft of them? It cannot be. If so then that would mean supporting pessimist and nihilist ideas.

Among the ideas and conspiracy theories prevailing these days are those claiming that there are dark forces that want to eliminate half of the world population, especially the Third World; Africans in particular. Others say all those who have been vaccinated will become impotent. This conspiracy is the most feared by the big population. Some people have suffered from Covid-19 and been fully vaccinated, but have there is no evidence that they become impotent. This is just an idea in the minds to discourage and frighten others. Then there is the issue of the blood clot and deaths also, but these are minimal in comparison to the benefits of being vaccinated.

On the other hand, there are those who are not adhering to the warnings. They think that Covid-19 is just an idea, a myth. Others are going about their life mask-less, while others are wicked and comingling with others when they know they are sick and with little or no vaccines. They gather in groups to socialize with the others. The other day I saw the police with teargas dispersing a group of drunkards but they regrouped after the police have disappeared. I wonder whether this type of drinking in our country Zambia does not reflect a national or collective neurosis or a senseless and meaninglessness of life? How can people be drinking beer like this as if their lives depended on it?

To come back to the scenario of the pandemic, there are those who see in it the coming to the end of the world and nonchalantly pass comments such as “if Jesus Christ wants to come, let him just come now, this is the end of the world” (Yesu ngalefwaya ukwisa naesefye, uku ekupwa kwacalo; Ambuye Yesu ngati afuna kubwera angabwere, uku ndiye kutha kwa dziko).” This calls to mind of the sort of Christian sect idealist pessimists fond of foretelling the end of the world.  Without dwelling much on what went before, in recent times, they used to proclain that in 1980 the world will come to end, but it did not. They repeated the same thing in 2000, ‘the world will be over and everybody should stop amassing provisions for future use’. What was the origin of such ideas?

I do not know whether you have come across a book entitled, “Better not to have been born; the harm of coming into existence” 2006. The writer is a pure anti-natalist and nihilist philosopher and he is not only against reproducing for fate can befall on anyone but because life for him is permeated by badness. Therefore, reproducing is intrinsically cruel and irresponsible. He has produced another book called, Human Predicament 2017. He has argued in this book that human consciousness is a tragic misstep in evolution. He provides an escalating list of woes, designed to prove that even the lives of happy people are worse than they think. He argues that: “we’re almost always hungry or thirsty, and when we’re not, we must go to the bathroom. We often experience ‘thermal discomfort’ – we are too hot or too cold – or are tired and unable to nap. We suffer from itches, allergies, and colds, menstrual pains or hot flashes” quote.

Life is a procession of “frustrations and irritations” – waiting in traffic, standing in line, filling out forms. We are forced to work, we often find our jobs exhausting; even “those who enjoy their work may have professional aspirations that remain unfulfilled” quote. Many lonely people remain single, while those who marry fight and divorce. “People want to be, look, and feel younger, and yet they age relentlessly. This idealism has earned him fame and has a lot of followers. Strangely enough he does not answer personal questions because people will analyse him psychologically and therefore does not want to be interviewed. He is a very isolated and withdrawn person.

This perspective seems to indicate that life would be meaningful only when there is no suffering on earth. Is this true? In other word, one thing which we quickly and already realise when we come into existence is that we are not going to live forever and we shall depart in different ways from this life. This is a fact and life’s meaning should not be based on or judged according to whether there is suffering or happiness.

All sentient things seem to have that kind of life-experience of pain suffering and happiness. And therefore the question to ask is what kind of creatures are we human beings? We are intelligent, creative, developmental, communal; interpersonal whether there is suffering death or happiness. If we have not been most of these, then we have failed. These are the values we have here on earth and should inculcate in others. A new philosophy of life and religion must reject all superstitious beliefs and ideas in their objective reality and be able to reason and realise that the others ideas are only mental pictures we paint to please our own souls or mentality (Jung 1964, p.159).

It is true that we do not like suffering or death though we can make sense of them. But the irony is that when you have had a good life and after that you experience pain and suffering you seem to reason and catastrophise that things will be bad. When in distress one’s thinking becomes rigid, distorted and over generalized and absolute (Weishar 1996, p.188). There are also some people who think and behave as though they have come into this world by accident. They are not productive and they want to manipulate others and make them work for them. St Paul advises such idle people and begs them to go on quietly working and earning the food they eat. Such idle people when they sit on the food to eat, eat as though they are eating for the last time or are going to prison.

Though I meandered this much, my point was really to comment on the prevailing scenario of Covid-19 and its ramification and the fear or pessimism it has engendered. People should not give up themselves because of the challenges brought by Covid-19, come what may we shall overcome; come rain, come storms. We are advised to put on the masks, observe social distancing and to be completely “jabbed up” where there is vaccine. Otherwise certain pieces of advice, even those given by certain developed countries, will just be a form of idealism.

By Fr Patrick Mumbi

Livingstonia Missionaries and White Fathers (Missionaries of Africa)

Kenneth David Kaunda during a working visit to President Reagan, 3/30/1983

Kenneth Kaunda was born on 28 April 1924 at Lubwa Mission in Chinsali, then part of Northern Rhodesia, now Zambia, and was the youngest of eight children. His father, the Reverend David Kaunda, was an ordained Church of Scotland missionary and teacher, who had been born in Nyasaland (now Malawi) and had moved to Chinsali, to work at Lubwa Mission. His mother was also a teacher and was the first African woman to teach in colonial Zambia.

Lusaka, Embassy Park: Here lies a gallant freedom fighter, the African Child, Kenneth Kaunda. He came from a missionary family from Malawi that had settled in Lubwa. Born on 28th April 1924 and died on 17th June 2021, at the age of 97.

One notices the difference in evangelisation between White Fathers and the Livingstonia Mission who stressed the education of Africans in practical skills and in particular qualities which were consonant with the Calvinistic ethic as opposed with the Roman-Catholic, the White Fathers. For the Livingstonia Mission salvation was through individual faith in Christ; for the White Fathers the Sacraments, especially baptism, led to salvation. Lubwa Mission used literacy and intellectual agreement with the contents of the catechism as criteria for admission to church membership. For the Livingstonia Mission new members were incorporated into the structure of the Mission as teachers, evangelists, catechists, or paid employees of the Mission. The converts were initially mainly young men, exhibiting a westernized style of life. There emerged a competition between the White Fathers and the Livingstonia missionaries in the area of evangelisation. The phenomenon of evangelisation brought a rift between families and clans (Erie I, 1991).
In the 1940s Lubwa missionaries came under criticism by young mission teachers like Kaunda and Kapwepwe, who established a Chinsali Branch of the Northern Rhodesia African National Congress at Lubwa. There was opposition especially in Northern Rhodesia (Zambia) to amalgamate or federate Northern and Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe).
As orally narrated by some old White Fathers like Fr Robert Lavertu, in 1955 Lubwa was confronted with a break-away movement, the Lumpa Church, led by Alice Lenshina (See also Fr Hinfelaars 1985, 1989). There was a fierce clash in 1964 between the Lumpa Church and UNIP and by then the colonial British Government was still in power and in charge of security. Many people died (1000) and this ended in the dispersal of the Lumpa Church. According to Robert Lavertu, a Missionary of Africa who was there at the time, some members of the Lenshina group dispersed into Congo, while others remained in Chinsali and elsewhere in Zambia (Luwingu district).

By Fr Patrick Mumbi

Missionary life at St. Thomas Parish, Mzuzu, Malawi

Our Parish is named after St Thomas the Apostle and its Parish Priest happens to be Fr. Thomas. St Thomas the Apostle Parish is a semi-rural parish in the Diocese of Mzuzu in Northern Malawi. The Parish was created in October 2013. It currently has 17 prayer stations, 2 in town and 15 in the villages. The rural outstations are characterized by their distance from the Presbytery, the low number of their Christians and the poor or inexistent structures. One of the churches is not accessible by car. Most of these churches have very lively liturgies where all members participate in praying, singing and dancing. Our main Apostolate rotates around the ordinary administration of the sacraments, teaching/training of the Christians in the context of primary evangelization, Justice and Peace and Integrity of creation, and development works.

As a child I grew up in a village which was not even an outstation. The Catechist was the hero of the faith through his way of organizing the spiritual life of the people. The priest only came to the village once a year, under a special request on the feast of patron saint of the Christian Community, St. Andrew. Sisters and seminarians occasionally came during the Lenten Campaign for 2 to 3 days of teaching. I guess this has affected my missionary approach to remote areas. In a parish like St. Thomas, the temptation is to settle in town where life is softer and Christians are more capable intellectually and financially, while neglecting the rural outstations which are difficult to reach and have small numbers of Christians. Aware of this risk, we have adopted an old but efficient Missionary strategy of spending days at the outstations to maximize our presence among the Christians. We often go as a team, sometimes including Christians from town. The Christians of the outstations are always glad to receive us in their places and they are more than happy to have us in their midst. Materials such as drawings and movies are still relevant pastoral tools in such areas.

Such a Missionary approach goes with its requirement in personnel and finances. It is quite difficult to go to the distant outstations when there is only one priest at the presbytery. I happened to be alone for most part of the year 2020 and despite all the good will, I could only visit the distant outstations during week days. Finances are also crucial for one to reach out to such places. This has compelled us to reflect on ways to empower the parish financially so that it has enough to cover these expenses. Apart from the traditional ways of collecting funds such as tithe and offertory, we have explored ways of generating funds even in rural outstations where the livelihood of people is low, making it difficult to contribute meaningfully. Our Parish does a bit of farming on two farms: One for food crops where we are currently adding a piggery, and the other for tree farming where we have planted beyond 500 apple trees. In town we have small hostels which students of a nearby Technical College rent. Having seen the advantage of this, we have undertaken to build a proper hostel to receive around 100 students, though we are facing some financial difficulties to finish the works. Once completed, this will not only boost the income of the parish but also create a venue for retreats and trainings during holidays.

While some of the development works are for Income Generation, others are aimed at responding to the needs of the parish and the communities around us in areas of infrastructure: offices, school blocks, boreholes, making of bridges/roads in some rural places to enhance accessibility.

After 7 years of existence, St Thomas the Apostle Parish has managed to meet most of its basic needs including salaries of all the workers, upkeep of the confreres and stagiaires working in it, and also the cost of transportation for ministry.

Justice and Peace is part and parcel of our daily pastoral activities. It is very common for us to have to deal with cases where the lives and property of people accused of witchcraft are threatened. We also deal with early girl marriages mainly in the rural areas of the parish. It is fulfilling when after a long struggle a family finally understands that their young daughter is better at school than in a marriage. Also, we attempt to respond to the yearly struggle of the less privileged people during the transitory period before the maturity of their crops, when they are exposed to hunger and starvation. The Justice and Peace Commission of our Parish is also active. Luckily, an oncoming workshop in August 2021 on accompaniment of victims of various injustices will increase their capacities.

By: Thomas Delwende Pouya M.Afr.

JPIC-ED: A SAFARI WITH ‘LAUDATO SI’

Justice and Peace and the Integrity of Creation and Encounter and Dialogue (JPIC-ED) of South African Province (SAP) in its entirety has been up to date in living and journeying with the Encyclical Letter of Pope Francis, Laudato Si. Most, if not all of our confreres or communities, do understand and take to heart that our Mother Earth, who contains us, does also sustain us and govern us accordingly (cf. Laudato Si’ no. 1). At the same time, she expects us to be responsible of taking care of her according to God’s command. “God blessed them, saying to them, ‘Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth and subdue it. Be masters of the fish of the sea, the birds of heaven and all the living creatures that move on earth.’ God also said, ‘Look, to you I give all the seed-bearing plants everywhere on the surface of the earth, and all the trees with seed-bearing fruit; this will be your food. And to all the wild animals, all the birds of heaven and all the living creatures that creep along the ground, I give all the foliage of the plants as their food … God saw all he had made, and indeed it was very good” (Gen. 1:28-31). Pope Francis, in his wisdom and on behalf of the Church, emerged with the Encyclical Laudato Si‘ (LS) in response to such God’s command, while looking at the signs of the times. A timely moment of publishing it when human beings who are created in the image and likeness of God himself begin to abuse the Mother Earth; hence, endanger human species and all that she inhabits.

Most of our communities in the different Sectors of our Province have embraced this Encyclical not just from a ‘sermon point of view’ but also from a ‘pragmatic point of view.’ Many of our communities are engaged in different activities to making this exhortation a reality. A good and authentic reference can be found in our last JPIC-ED report to the Provincial Council, whereby it was clearly stated that most of our Communities/Parishes are engaged in planting pine trees, eucalyptus and cyprus trees, some fruit plants as well as up-grading mission compounds ecologically to a good standard while curtailing soil erosion. All this has not been done in isolation, but rather working hand in hand with the local or Parish Justice and Peace Committees or Commissions. This explicates clearly that Missionaries of Africa are not working in isolation but rather in collaboration with the local Church. The spirit of ‘I am because we are’ is very much integrated in implementing Laudato Si! This is very encouraging, and the larger communities in which we work are very appreciative of our approach.

Laudato Si‘ is a prophetic Encyclical as conflict in the future may be mainly caused by the exploitation of natural resources. In fact, the document has become highly influential and widely shared document of the Church as it urges humanity to have an attitudinal change towards the Mother Earth. It is for this reason that LS embraces three key words namely, respect, responsibility and relationship. Respect for each other as human beings who are created in the image and likeness of God; responsibility for what is entrusted to us, human beings, by the Creator; and positive relationship between the earth and human beings, among human beings themselves as well as between human beings and their Creator. “As Christians, we are also called ‘to accept the world as a sacrament of communion, as a way of sharing with God and our neighbours on a global scale. It is our humble conviction that the divine and the human meet in the slightest detail in seamless garment of God’s creation, in the last speck of dust of our planet’” (LS, no. 9).

It is clear that this document as we try to implement it in our own context as Missionaries of Africa within the communities we serve, needs to be understood not as a scientific document. It is a justice document applied to the Ecology. In other words, this document, can only be appreciated and understood if engaged as a social justice document as an expression of Catholic Social Teaching in its practical sense of the word. It follows Pope Francis’ prism based on encounter, dialogue and solidarity. It is realistic and pragmatic. It envisages “A word of paradigm shifts leading to centrality of justice, empowerment from below, a dynamic interaction between deductive and inductive method, interplay between the contextual and the universal” (Peter-John Pearson, Reflection on LS, p. 1). In a sense, LS follows a katabatic approach. It is justice document as it is the constituent of the mission of the Church. It is critical not only to Church’s life, but also to all who value and care for our common home just like us Missionaries of Africa who have taken it to heart. It provokes the sense of redeploying social power and the transformation of the social system. As a justice document, it is not a paracetamol pill or a tranquilliser document as W. Brueggemann states: “Justice is not some romantic social ideal for another world. It is the hard work of redeploying social power and the transformation of the social system. Those of us who benefit from inequality in the world are susceptible to blind spots and generally we struggle to keep those spots blind. But one must conclude from Micah and the whole prophetic tradition that the redistribution of social power is a crucial element of the Gospel, and that is a summons to justice.” Justice demands not only the avoidance of unnecessary pain, but fostering care and responsibility for the other, for the ‘Mother Earth’.

Based on the Social Catholic Teaching, while reading and interpreting the signs of the times, Laudato Si expresses a deep sense of the communitarian vision. This emanates from the Trinitarian principle which begins with the sign of the cross, expressing God who is Trinity. And of course, the Trinity is relational, is love; three in one, making part of the systematic theology. Surely, LS coheres around a theologically inspired communitarian ethic. Thus, it decries “… the classical liberal model where society is understood as an artificial contract between autonomous individuals undertaken for self-interest rather than fraternal reasons” (Schuck, p. 187). Its approach, therefore, takes a wider scope compared to other documents of the Church. Pope Francis quotes not only other Popes but also other different documents as well as individuals who compliment the care of our common home. This shows that the Church is not an isolated entity. She is part and parcel of the planet entity. This fits perfectly well with Charles Cardinal Lavigerie’s principle of Community Life.

The concern of Pope Francis to bringing out LS is a provocative challenge to us Missionaries of Africa. It is a serious call or invitation to us to look at all the signs of the times and find out not only short-term solutions but also long-term solutions to our ‘Mother Earth Crisis’ such as global warming and climate change, for which the future generations of Missionaries of Africa will appreciate us, and not condemn us. This implies that individuals alone cannot do much, the communitarian aspect of it at both local and global levels (i.e., Sectors, Provinces, Society and the Church at large) have necessarily to be engaged. Care for the common home is, indeed, our business as Missionaries of Africa!

By: Fr. James Ngahy, M.Afr.

In Memoriam Gotthard Rosner

Father Rudi Pint, Provincial Delegate of the sector of Germany, informs you of the return to the Lord of Father Gotthard Rosner on Wednesday September 2nd, 2020 in Munich (Germany) at the age of 79 years, of which 53 years of missionary life in Uganda, Switzerland, France, Italy, USA, Zambia UK and Germany.

Every now and then, there is a little controversy about the photo of an elderly confrere who died. Should we publish a recent photograph, which reflects the physical appearance of the confrere during the last years, or should we post an older picture, which will be acknowledged by the people he worked with when he was in Africa? Father Gotthard died on the second of September. He was a formator for many years and a superior general for 6 years. Many younger confreres have known him… with a beard, which he let go for the last few years.

“White Fathers – White Sisters: the graces of the jubilee year,” The Southern Africa Province (SAP)

By Felix Phiri, M.Afr

The Southern Africa Province (SAP) is composed of four countries, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa and Zambia, of which only Malawi has remained to date the only country with the presence of the MSOLA. Nonetheless, the whole Province experienced something of the close collaboration with the MSOLA at the occasion of the Jubilee, mainly the Malawi Sector and to a certain extent the Zambia Sector.

In 2016, the two superiors of the Missionaries Africa and MSOLA announced the Jubilee of the 150 years of the foundation of their two institutes, with a clear three years roadmap, each year marked by a specific theme. The Malawi Sector, being the only country with the MSOLA presence, immediately put in place a team composed of vocation animators belonging to both institutes to spearhead the planning and actualization of the activities related to the Jubilee. The team met on a regular basis in order to organize the activities together.

Several activities were conjointly agreed upon and realized in the course of the three years. To start with, there was the pilgrimage visit to Mponda, point of arrival of the first Missionaries of Africa in Malawi in 1889, to revisit our origins in Malawi – a similar pilgrimage was done in Zambia to Mambwe Mwela the place where the first Catholic presence in what is presently known as Zambia was established in 1891, in connection with the 125 years of Christianity in Zambia. The pilgrimage in Malawi was extended to Mua, the place where the first permanent mission was established in 1902. The official launching of the Jubilee took place in 2017 in St Denis parish, Chinsapo, in Lilongwe. The colourful ceremony was presided over by Archbishop Tarcisius Ziyaye, the archbishop of Lilongwe. Each Sector organized its own closing ceremony; in Malawi the ceremony took place in St Thomas-Zolozolo and St Francis in 2019. In Zambia it took place on the 10th November 2019 and the MSOLA were represented by two of the sisters. It was a colourful celebration presided over the archbishop emeritus Telesphore-George Mpundu whose personal knowledge and past history with the Missionaries of Africa added a special flavour to the ceremony. At the end of his homily he rolled on the ground in the traditional way of expressing gratitude for the missionary work realized in Zambia. 

In the course of the three years, a number of activities were realized, some together with the MSOLA others alone as Missionaries of Africa. For instance, to mark this common journey, celebrations of the 30th April, the feast of Our Lady of Africa, on the 26th November (the Anniversary of the death of our founder), and the 8th December, the feast of the Immaculate Conception, were conducted with a notable participation of members of either institutes. These were occasions to express our common origin and unity of purpose in the mission. On different occasions, various talks were given conjointly with the MSOLA on the themes of the year and/or on the life of the founder and spirituality of the two societies. Furthermore, the team went around the parishes that have been previously run by the Missionaries of Africa for a reminder of our presence there as well as vocational animation. In some parishes this brought back nostalgic souvenirs of the ‘good old days.’

Among the accompanying artefacts produced on the occasion of the Jubilee the most significant epitomizing the close collaboration with the MSOLA was the printing of the Jubilee cloth (nsalu) in 2018/2019. Over 1,200 pieces of cloth was printed and sold successfully. This was the most conspicuous symbol of the jubilee, not only was it worn by many women but it was also used as ornaments during celebrations. A similar initiative was undertaken by the other Sectors which also produced their own sets of jubilee clothes, alongside other products such as jubilee golf shirts, calendars, Missionaries of Africa rosaries, etc. In 2019, the MSOLA receive a special invitation from Bishop Lungu of Chipata Diocese, in Zambia, to come and mark their jubilee celebration in the diocese. Although the invitation was specifically for the MSOLA, it was an opportunity for us to interact with the MSOLA sisters who came to attend the events and to accompany them.

By the nature of the presence of the MSOLA in our Province, common activities could only be carried out in Malawi where they still have a presence and Zambia the last country where they were. In spite of that, we can discern tangible fruits of the Jubilee in collaborating with our sisters. Firstly, the very fact of working for the same cause during these last three years reminded us of our common origin and drew us closer together. Secondly, this has been an extraordinary opportunity to revisit our immediate and distant history; the different talks given about the history of our two institutes refreshed our sense originating from something greater than we are and the visit to the historical places where the first missionaries first arrived made us realize the amount of sacrifice and courage that went to the beginnings of the church. Finally, the participation of the local church made us understand and appreciate the contribution of our two institutes to the founding of the church in this part of the world. This was not a celebration isolated from the rest but indeed that of the whole church; we were not the object of the celebration but the occasion for it.

Serving and living with God’s people.

By Hervé Tougma

Proud to be a member of our Society by my missionary Oath, I was ordained in and for the Church. I am a Missionary of Africa priest in the Church who is mother and educator. Since my ordination, the Society has granted me the grace and privilege to live in a parish in Mozambique.

In this semi-urban and semi-rural parish, my desire is to live a very active apostolate in which the collaboration between the pastoral team and the Christian faithful is felt and lived. This desire, which is a reality in our small and young parish, is the subject of a sharing on “the life and the participative management of our parish”.

Encounter with the right key

Hand in hand, we will build up the Church as God’s family. As a Missionary, I am aware of my contribution but the strength of the building will depend on the people who receive the Gospel, and allow it to penetrate their lives and be its life-giving source. In Mozambique, every confrere who arrives for the first time in this “Glorious Land” becomes a small library which is once again enriched with two languages: Portuguese and the local language. Taking to heart the invitation of our founder, Cardinal Lavigerie, learning the language brings us into the reality of the people and brings us closer to them. As Missionaries of Africa, speaking the local language remains a priority for the sharing and incarnation of the Good News, for breaking down barriers of communication and for coming into contact with and understand the local culture. Speaking the language already gives this joy of walking together.

In his missionary sending, Jesus said: “Go therefore, make disciples of all nations, (…) teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Mt 28:19-20a). To make disciples of them and to transmit what the Lord Himself has commanded me, knowledge of the language is the key that allows me to be a happy and fulfilled missionary.

The Apostolate of collaboration, baptized and sent

Invited by the Bishop because of our charism, we have responded by taking a parish as a starting point for our apostolate of Justice and Peace and of Integrity of Creation JPIC). In the same perspective and taking advantage of our presence, the Bishop also asked us to join his pastoral team to initiate ecumenism and inter-religious dialogue with the growing number of Muslims in the region. The cosmopolitan reality of Tete calls for an integration of our specialisation with the pastoral needs of the Diocese. In this mining town and crossroads of travellers from neighbouring countries such as Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe, we observe the intermingling of races and human mobility as ordinary realities. As Missionaries of Africa, managing a parish that responds to our vocation as ordained for the Church, the particularity of our charism propels us to respond to pastoral needs starting from the parish that serves as a springboard.

With very few diocesan priests, the Diocese counts on different congregations each with its own approach to mission, based on its Charism.

The absence of permanent catechists in the Diocese of Tete was a surprise to me. This reality provides for a very close collaboration with lay people and pastoral agents. For catechesis in our parish, we work with volunteer catechists. We have the presence of the Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist and the Ministers of Hope. The Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist assists the priest in the distribution of the Eucharist and brings communion to the sick. He also accompanies the priest at the appropriate time for visits to the sick. The Ministers of Hope collaborate through being close to the sick. In case of decease, the Minister of Hope leads the prayers for Christian burial when the priest cannot be present.

Within the framework of these two extraordinary ministries, each group is being prepared and trained before being sent out for witnessing to their faith through their ministry.

As pastors, we visit the communities for Masses and in the absence of the priest we count on their leaders for the celebration of the Word every Sunday. According to St. Paul “How could they call upon him, if they had not believed in him? And how could they believe in him without hearing him? And how can they hear him if no one proclaims him?

And how can they proclaim him unless they are sent?” (Rom 10:14-17). This responsibility is shared and the most important thing is to empower these lay leaders through prior preparation. The training and meetings allow us to journey with the members of the different groups and movements towards a precise horizon. We keep an eye on the organization and the life of the basic Christian communities. We visit these communities from time to time so as to accompany them and to remain in touch with the faithful. We also encourage them to practice solidarity in their daily living.

The reality of the mission in the field educates and teaches us. After a long time of formation, I discovered the necessity and importance of pastoral collaboration. In addition to the collaboration with the Pastor of the Diocese and his pastoral agents, I have learned to appreciate collaboration with the laity so as to live the apostolate of closeness in view of rooting the Gospel in the life and culture of people. The preparation I have received is being contextualised and teaches me to delegate, to share my experience and know-how with close collaborators for the building up of the mystical body of Christ: the Church.

Source : Petit Écho de la Société des Missionnaires d’Afrique, no 1109, 2020/03

Youth Ministry in St. Lawrence Parish – Lusaka “Walking and Working Together”

By Patrick Sebyera, M.Afr

Patrick SebyeraIntroduction

St Lawrence is a relatively young parish that used to be an outstation of the Good Shepherd parish (Kabwata). It became an independent parish in 2011. It has twenty Small Christian Communities which are divided into five areas. The largest part of our parish is Misisi compound, I would say 80%. Misisi compound “is a shanty town, which is located in Lusaka, Zambia. Misisi has been identified as one of the five worst slums in Sub Saharan Africa. Due to a lack of resources there has been poor record keeping, but according to best estimates, there are between 80 and 90,000 people living in the area”. Of the twenty Small Christian Communities, 16 of them are in Misisi compound and four others are in Kamwala South. Therefore, the majority of our parishioners, our young people, come from poor families and this also has an impact on the youth ministry in our parish. Nevertheless, St. Lawrence youth ministry is seemingly strong, though more needs to be done. In this article I will present some of the activities and challenges that confront us and I will sum up with a short conclusion.

Activities

In St. Lawrence’s Parish, the youth ministry is composed of four branches, namely the Holy Childhood (5 to 12 years), the teenagers (13 to 18 years), the senior youths (19 to 25 years) and the young adults (26 to 35 years). Here in Zambia, youth is defined as all those who are under the age of 35 years. These four different branches are spread in different groups: such as the Stella, Holy Childhood, the Altar Boys, the TOM (Teens On the Move), the Xaveri, the Vocation group, the Junior Franciscans, the Junior Actio, the Junior Pioneers and, the Junior Legion of Mary. Apart from these different groups, there are different choirs mainly composed of young people.

PatrickThe young people make their own programmes following the guidelines of our diocese. They are very active in social programmes but less active when it comes to spiritual programmes. On Wednesdays we have started a Mass in the evening at 17:00 in order in try and help our young people embrace and grow in their spiritual life. Social activities such as outings, tours, youth camps, fundraising ventures, workshops, pilgrimages, retreats and recollections are organised at different periods of the year in order to bring our young people together. The retreats and recollections are mainly organised by the different groups themselves.

Every year, there are sports activities organised at deanery level and our young people participate, but they don’t score high because of lack of commitment and regular raining in those sports.

In union and communion with their fellow young people around the world, they celebrate the Youth Day. On this day different activities take place. This year, they had Mass and after Mass different singing and sports activities took place. It was also an occasion to fundraise by selling tickets and food in order to get some funds for their future plans. On this day, 12th March 2019, I celebrated my first Youth Day Mass.

I am still new here but I am slowly getting to know the parish and getting involved in its different activities, of which the youth apostolate is one, so that I can also bring my contribution and help them to improve in some areas. I expected a big number of young people to turn up for Mass but the number was rather small. To my surprise in the afternoon the numbers grew considerably.

Patrick 2In my homily, I focused on the readings taken from Gen 1: 26-31; 2 Thes 3: 2-16 and Mt 25: 14-30. I emphasised the fact that we are all created in God’s image and likeness. This has an impact on our life and on our behaviour regarding God, and on our brothers and sisters as well as all of creation. God created man and woman. He blessed them with responsibilities, five of them: be fertile, multiply, fill the earth, subdue it and have dominion over all living things on earth. Further on in Gen 2: 8. 15 God planted a beautiful garden. He placed man and woman in it in order to cultivate it and to care for it. This is linked with St. Paul’s exhortation in 2 Thes 3: 2-16 where he invites us not to stay sluggish and busy with other people’s problems, forgetting our own. We, the young people of St Lawrence, do we know our problems? And how can we overcome them? The first step is to identify them, and then we have to walk together and work together. St. Paul is inviting us to go on working and earning our own bread to avoid being a burden to others, to our parents or to the church, thinking that they have to do everything for us.

I therefore encouraged them to walk and work together, to avoid laziness and the attitude of being spoon-fed; always having their hands outstretched to receive what is provided for them. Living with such a mindset and approach is to behave like the third servant in the parable, who instead of making the one talent, which he had received from his master, bear fruit, hid it in the soil (cf. Mt 25: 15. 18. 24-25). At this juncture

I invited our young people not to put their talents to sleep nor bury them in the earth or in selfishness and laziness lest the master come back and rebuke them saying ‘you wicked and lazy servant (youth) … throw this useless servant into darkness outside’ (cf. Mt 25: 26. 30). It is therefore our responsibility as young people here at St. Lawrence to walk and work together and to put our energy and talents together in order to overcome the different challenges we encounter. I then finished by encouraging them like the Apostle “do not be remiss in doing good” (2 Thes 3: 13).

Challenges

Most of these challenges were provided to me by the youth chairperson at the parish, Mr Nestor Bwalya, who knows the parish and the youth better than I do.

Our challenge has been to organise the youths in our parish. In some sections many young people are neither active nor committed to the programmes and the meetings. This means that some programmes have failed because of poor attendance. It is difficult to find young adults willing to participate because they think they are already elders. Those that we have are still around because they hold some positions in youth ministry.

Another challenge is finance. This generation is used to an easy life and things for free and they don’t pay or contribute when needs arise. They like things free of charge and every time they are asked to pay or contribute, they answer ‘ndilibe ndalama’ or ‘shikwete mpiya’, in Chinyanja and in Chibemba, both meaning ‘I don’t have money’. To get anything from them, you have to push them hard; but if you invite them for an outing where everything is pre-arranged, many turn up. This attitude shows a certain lack of enthusiasm and generosity.

Technology has contributed to the lethargy of our young people. They are not active in church programmes because they are so busy with worldly things like: drinking, T.V., Sex, Media (WhatsApp, Facebook, etc.). Sex is killing our young people. They are so much involved in things concerning sex and relationships. It hurts to see girls being impregnated by young boys at a very tender adolescent age. Recently, a young girl of 12 years was impregnated by an altar boy. The church has become an alien for them because in church we tell them that sex before marriage is a sin, which is true, though even after marriage, sex outside marriage is still and remains a sin. So they run away from the church and find themselves in difficulties. How can we help this generation?

The church should take steps to reach out to these young people at their level, listen to them in their daily struggles and then move with them slowly to bring them back to the way Jesus Christ wants to lead them, with a message of hope, because many of our young people are losing hope. This crisis of losing hope and not being able to cope with some problems means some young people go so far as to take their own lives.

A case like this happened just few days ago; a young man, 22 years old, could not cope with some problem that he had, so he decided to take poison and he died straightaway. How can we help the young avoid going to such extremes? Pope Francis in Christus Vivit states: “Christ is alive! He is our hope, and in a wonderful way he brings youth to our world, and everything he touches becomes young, new, and full of life … Christ is alive and he wants you to be alive!” (Pope Francis, Christus Vivit, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation To Young People And To The Entire People Of God). We should be close to our young people and encourage them to follow the way of the living Christ, who at all times wants to renew their lives.

Drugs and beer are another harmful issue. It is rare to find youths who are not involved in some way in such things, especially in the Misisi compound. Another challenge is that many young people are alone and have to fight to earn their daily bread. This means that some of them even have to work on Sunday and cannot go to church.

Patrick 3

Not all the parents manage to send their children to school because of poverty. This has been the root of the many problems our young people meet. In such cases some parents will even push their children to marry early or young people themselves will enter an early marriage without the consent of parents. Otherwise girls beget children outside mariage and are then forced to stay at home with their parents. This means that they stop seeing their friends and begin to feel very isolated.

Conclusion

With these challenges and others that are not listed here, I am challenged and you my fellow confreres are also challenged to make contact with young people and see how best we can help them in their daily struggles. The way will be long and certainly there is a lot to be done.

Young people need to be approached at the level where they are. We bring them the message of hope and not so much the teachings, laws and decrees, though they are important in themselves, but sometimes they seem detached from the reality on the ground. As the Pope once again reminds us, we should approach them with tenderness and love showing them that Christ is in them, with them and he never abandons them. However far they may wander, he is always there. He calls them and he waits for them to return to him and start over again. He is always there to restore their strength and their hope (cf. CV 2). Therefore we should encourage young people to know that they are not meant to become discouraged; but rather they are meant to dream great things, to seek vast horizons, to aim higher, to take on the world, to accept challenges and to offer the best of themselves to the building of something better (cf. CV 15). Let this be a challenge to me and you as we strive to work and help our young people grow into becoming more human and to turn into better persons in tomorrow’s society and above all to become good Christians.

Source: Petit Echo 2019 / 05, No 1101

Henley Parish Youth ministry

By Faustin Kerumbe, M.Afr

Introduction

Faustin KerumbeToday, we believe that through Youth Ministry – in other words the Pastoral Care of the Youth – the Church can offer to young people something for their spiritual growth and human development. The Youth Apostolate is an investment in its own right for the future of the Church and society. As we once asked ourselves the question about what are we going to do or to be in life, in the same way, there are also many young people who are asking these same questions but without finding answers. Consequently they fall into despair. Can our Youth Ministry help them to find answers and offer hope? The mission is imperative: “Duc in altum!” (Launch into the deep)

Where are we?

Henley Parish is our field of pastoral work. It is in the Catholic Archdiocese of Durban, KwaZulu Natal, South Africa. I arrived at Henley Parish in December 2014. The Parish had been reopened in 2012 by Fr. Philippe Docq after more than twenty years without the presence of priests due to social and political conflicts. In 2015, Fr. George Okwii took over from Fr. Philippe but there was not, as yet, a proper parish structure. The five outstations that currently form Henley Parish were functioning independently. In December 2015, the 1st Parish Pastoral

Council was formed. I personally took over from Fr. George Okwii in 2016.

What is being done regarding Youth Ministry?

When I took over, Fr. Philippe Docq had already trained the altar servers in all the outstations. Martin Somda, a stagiaire, was also organizing the youth in two of the five outstations. In 2015, Fr. George Okwii introduced the Xaverian Movement. However everything had to be reorganized at all levels. Looking at the young people and taking into account the lengthy absence of priests, I was totally gripped by compassion at finding myself as a shepherd in the middle of lost sheep “…because they were like sheep without a shepherd...” (Mk 6:34b). I strongly felt the need to introduce Youth Ministry as part of our pastoral commitment as a matter of urgency. I was handed the job of youth chaplain by the community. In collaboration with the Parish Pastoral Council, the Youth Ministry was launched in April 2016 with the election of Youth leaders in each outstation. The chairpersons of these five outstations form the Parish Youth Executive. There are Patrons and Matrons representing the parents of the young people and the Parish Pastoral Executive is involved in all youth activities. From that time we started working together as a team. The first task of the Parish leaders was to build unity in the parish and to work together in collaboration with Parish Pastoral Council Executive members. Among the youth groups, we have different organizations such as the Xaverian Movement and Children of Mary Sodality.

The Altar Servers are also part of the Youth ministry. All the youth movements including the Xaverian movement, the Children of Mary and the Altar Servers fall under the responsibility of the Parish Youth Executive leadership. Together they form the youth of Henley parish. Different outstations have different problems but each outstation is encouraged, to adopt the activities of the parish and implement them at local level.

What is being done now is to keep the young people interested through various activities such as leadership training and skills development.

Some youth leaders are already members of the local Church Executive and are fully participating in Church activities. In that way we see our Youth Ministry as an investment project for the future of the Church and society at large.

Henley ParishYouth activities

All the youth activities are carried out in line with the yearly plan drawn up by the Parish Youth Executive. The primary aim is to bring the young people of Henley parish together and make the Church a welcoming environment for their spiritual growth and human development.

New Year events:

At the beginning of the year we have a special Mass for young people. All the intentions ask God to bless the young people and their families, to guide and to protect them throughout the year. On the last Sunday of January we have a motivational program for education under the theme: “Go back to school and shine.” This event is run by some qualified teachers who talk to the young people about the challenges of life and the importance of education.

Lenten Season activities

We can summarize our youth activities during the Lenten season under St Benedict’s principle, “Ora et labora.” Every second weekend of Lent we have a parish youth recollection day that starts with the Way of the Cross on a hilltop called KwaSabelo. The fourth weekend of Lent is the day of charity work at a school for blind people called “Bawinile Centre.” This event is organized in order to help young people enrich their spiritual life through prayers, contemplation and works of charity, to develop their sense of empathy, to sacrifice their basic needs for the benefit of the unprivileged or needy, to encourage young people to reach out and to put their faith into practice. During this period of Lent, the members of the Xaverian Movement and the altar servers select a poor family and then go and help them by cleaning and cooking.

July and August activities

On the first weekend of July, we have the Parish Youth Council. This is a moment where the young people come together to evaluate their activities for the past six months. It is also an opportunity for them to develop a spirit of communication and of listening to one another. In the second week of July we have the “Youth Winter camp”. This is the most successful event in the Parish. It is full of activities that young people like. It was introduced in 2016 at the parish level but for the last two years it has attracted numbers of young people from other parishes. So far the youth camp is the most important activity for young people as it brings them together and even non-Catholics come along. On their arrival they are given a team number and all the youth camp activities are conducted by teams. Each team with its leader coordinates the activities.

It gives them a chance to know each other and to overcome their differences as well as helping them to accept one another and to learn from one another. Furthermore, it helps them develop a spirit of teamwork and service, etc. On Saturday morning all the teams go to different families with a Gospel inspired theme and to witness to what the theme is inviting them to be by doing something practical. In the evening, they give a feedback on their mission. On Sunday afternoon they are given a talk on the Church and its mission; the place and the commitments of young people and vocations in Church. It is also a time to answer some of the questions the young people are asking about the Church especially about vocations and faith. In the evening before the departure day, the young people are put in two groups: boys and girls separately. They are given a talk on education to life under the topic: “men to men; women to women”.

In August we have the skills training for liturgy like keyboard training, singing and public reading. A fun walk and sports are also organized in August for young people to help them keep fit and for fundraising purposes in order to try to be self-sustainable financially knowing that many of our young people are still studying and unemployed.

December and summer activities

YoungOn the second weekend of December we have the second Parish Youth Council to evaluate the activities of the past year and to prepare plans for the coming year. The third weekend is the weekend for our summer outing to allow our young people to socialize, to relax and to meet their curiosity by discovering some interesting places. So far, our young people have toured to the Drakensberg Mountains, the Roseland Reserve and Richards Bay. The last weekend of December we have a closing Mass of Thanksgiving to God for everything He has done for the young people during the past year.

Synod on the Youth

Henley Parish 2The Synod on the Youth was successfully launched at the Archdiocesan level. However, there is a lack of communication between the Diocesan Youth Office, the Deanery and parishes in terms of follow up and implementation of the guidelines proposed for youth activities in parishes. Our deanery is suffering from the absence of a youth chaplain, as a result we continue with our own parish plan for the year.

In general the young people make their presence felt in our parish. We are thankful for their response and their participation in Church activities despite some challenges we encountered in the course of the year due to the school calendar. But there is hope and the future is bright. We started as a small group but today it reaches out beyond our parish. The unity among the young people, their active presence in Church and their participation in the Church’s outreach activities is a visible sign of the impact of our Youth Ministry. By throwing out our nets, we are gradually catching more young people. We hope that this growing tree that we are watering today will bear much fruit tomorrow for the benefit of the Church and its mission.

Source: Petit Echo, 2019 /05 – No 1101.

Catholic Youth for Christ

By Lawrence Tukamushaba, M.Afr

Lawrence Tukamushaba

In line with the call of Pope Francis to devote the 2018 Synod of Bishops to young people, the Archdiocese of Kasama decided to dedicate the whole year to them. Catholic Youth for Christ was the theme that was chosen to guide the year. The Year of Youth was launched with Solemn Mass in a packed Cathedral by young people from all parts of the Archdiocese.

The adolescence young adult stage is a critical time in the life of young people. It is a stage where they are searching for their place in the Church and society. It’s a time when they need to be grounded in their faith. Role models, mentors, spiritual guidance, counsellors are much needed at this critical stage. When not much attention is paid to young people then there is the risk of losing some of them to new religious denominations and new ideological movements.

Youth organizations in St. Anne’s Parish

In St. Anne’s parish, pastoral care of young people is one of the most important ministries. Our parish has a large vibrant youth group scattered over our 15 outstations but the majority of the organisations are to be found in the central parish area as this is in town. Most of the young people belong to lay groups such as Xavarians movement, Young Christian workers, Junior legionaries, Stellas (Liturgical dancers), Alter boys club, Senior youth (those transiting from youth to Adults). Besides this, the young people have their own Small Christian Communities where they meet every Sunday afternoon to share the word of God. They also hold a youth council once a month. We also have Youth Alive and Young Christian Students. With so many groups, one cannot just leave them in the hands of Parish Priest. There has always been a tradition in the Parish that the curate and stagiaire give special attention to young people. Each lay group and Small Christian Community for the youth has a youth leader who accompanies them and works together with the youth chaplain and promoters. Without praising ourselves, this system has always worked well and as a result it has become the practice in the diocese that a priest, stagiaire, and a sister are assigned to youth ministry in the Parish.

Parish Activities

Lenten retreatAt the beginning of the year, all youth groups meet in the Parish to plan the activities for the coming year. The activities range from the spiritual (retreats, pilgrimage to the old mission of Chilubula, biblical and doctrinal quizzes, spiritual talks), to charitable works such as visiting the sick and homes of the physically challenged, plus social activities, sports, cultural and talent shows, youth day celebrations, career guidance, sensitization on social issues like drug and substance abuse, issues of Justice and Peace, youth camps, among others. Some activities are organized at the centre level, parish, deanery or diocesan level. At the parish level the program is done by the parish executive together with the chaplain. Every time there is a Church council or Parish council the youth organisations also give their report.

One annual event that attracts many young people is the pilgrimage to Chilubula, the Cathedral in Zambia where our confrere, Joseph Dupont, the first Bishop of the region is buried. The pilgrimage to Chilubula was started by our predecessors in the Parish. Now it has become an annual event in the deanery. Last year in October 2018, I accompanied 400 young people of whom half was from our parish, on a 35km journey on foot. It was an enriching experience for me walking with them, singing and praying, giving talks at various stations and especially celebrating the Eucharist for them at Besnar Centre, 5 km from Chilubula.

Some challenges for youth ministry today

Religious pluralism.

A number of our young people come from families with different denominations among its members. Unlike in the past where you would find that the whole family was Catholic; today, with the coming of Pentecostalism, the situation is different. Some have defected to these churches. You find that in a family of five some are Catholics, others are evangelicals or Pentecostals. This affects the faith as Catholics tend to shy away from expressing their faith, in fact at times, they belittle their faith. For example one youth shared that his siblings, who are no longer Catholics, laugh at him when he makes the sign of the cross.

It’s easy to notice that most of our young people’s way of praying is influenced by these religious movements whose leaders have a big following on social media. This confuses them and leads them to question their faith in Catholic doctrines.

Family breakdown in modern times.

NurseA good number of our young people are raised by single parents; others have been orphaned at a young age and were brought up by their grandparents. Some have never met their fathers. Dealing with such young people needs care and attention which cannot be solved by Mass or the administration of sacraments. It needs spending time to listen to them and counselling them. Peer counselling is a skill that is needed.

The widening gap between Urban and Rural Youth

There is a growing gap between young people coming from urban and rural setups. St. Anne’s Parish has a small section of the parish in town while the other, bigger part, is in a rural setting. Young people living in the countryside are more disadvantaged as they have limited access to social facilities. We have some outstations where getting to school is a challenge. In some areas, children have to walk 10 km on foot to reach the nearest primary school. In the rainy season, roads get really bad and some bridges are washed away. Added to that, the grass grows tall so that it becomes risky to walk in the bush and on top of all that some villages are widely scattered. In such areas it is difficult to find someone who has finished secondary school. This poses a challenge of leadership in the Church. It also increases a vicious circle of poverty.

YouthAs a result, there is high incidence of school drop-outs, early marriages, and teenage pregnancies. In the year 2017, I baptized 17 adults among whom were 8 school girls aged between 14 and 18 years of age who had dropped out of school. Later I discussed with their parents and church council how to ensure that they go back to school. As pastoral agents it is our task to take a keen interest in the formal education of our Christians if our ministry is to be transformative.

Conclusion

Youth ministry has always been part and parcel of our priority as witnessed by some of the lay movements which our confreres started in various countries, by the youth centres we still run and by the big number of young people that have been educated by the Missionaries of Africa. Today we need to invest more in this noble ministry because it is by starting with young people that we can be assured of continuity in the Church and mission. Pope Francis rightly says “youth are the now of God”. I believe so. They are not only the future leaders but the present hope of the Church today.

Source: Petit Echo, 2019 / 05 – No 1101

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