“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.

Tanzania Human Rights Report: Sexual Violence against Children.


The content is a bit depressing but based on reality as reported by the Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC) of Tanzania.

By Elvis Ng’andwe in Tanzania

The Day of African Child is officially celebrated on 16th June, it was inaugurated in 1991 by the then Organisation of African Unity (OAU) currently known as the African Union (AU). The initiative was to honour the victims of the Soweto uprising in 1976 in protest to poor schooling conditions during apartheid in South Africa. Hundreds of Children were shot on that fateful day.

To date, the day remains significant and covers all the children across the continent of Africa. Today an African child is still exposed to so many atrocities that I can only list a few ranging from child soldiers, mass rapping of children in war zones, children born and die in war zone, no access to education, child trafficking, domestic abuse and all forms of sexual and physical abuse.

Instead focusing on the continent, our network resolved to focus on the children in Tanzania. While our children in Tanzania are not facing the challenges like those in war zone, they have their own challenges. This week of 16th June, 2020, we have had a series of discussions and exchange with other stakeholders on children’s rights and child justice forum in conjunction with the ministry of Constitution and Laws of Tanzania. Upon a lengthy of discussions, we observed that we needed to take action by giving talks and sessions in different schools starting with pupils then at another stage to the members of staff.

Last year the mayor of Tanga bemoaned the high rate of child marriages in Tanga and invited the child justice forum to address that issue. We could not start because we had no funds and the project is huge with a lot of schools. This year we are planning on starting the project together with our partners however little we will do, the situation has become more difficult than before due to the threat of covid19.

Below are some of the excerpts from the Tanzania Human Rights Report of 2018: The Police Data indicated that within 6 months they had received cases of abuse against children of about 6,376.

NB: Victims of violence against Children are more likely to become perpetrators of violence against children when they become adults. Let’s stop the rot now!!!

“In Singida: There is a case of a woman who sells traditional liquor. When she comes back home, she usually comes back with a man, both drunk. They engage in sexual activity; and when they finish the man turns to her 13 year-old daughter and rapes her. Different men come home every night and rape the child. Fortunately the Child has been rescued by the Social Welfare and was found to be HIV negative.”

“In Mtwara: A man reportedly attacked and killed a child after the child’s mother refused his sexual advances”.

“In Loliondo-Arusha: A secondary school teacher raped and impregnated a 15 year-old pupil.”

“In Nyegezi-Mwanza: A man was arrested for raping a 4-year-old girl”.

“In Iringa: a 45 year-old man was arrested for using a 14 year-old girl for commercial sexual exploitation and beating her when she refused to engage in sexual intercourse”.

“In Babati: a primary school teacher was arrested for sodomising a standard five pupil at school.”

“In Mbeya-Chunya: 8 year-old girl was raped to death by a 25 year-old man. Witchcraft belief was said to be the motive behind”.

“In Kilimanjaro: 10 pupils (5 boys and 5 girls) were reportedly sodomised and raped at unnamed school”.

At Tabora: a 6-year-old child in a boarding school was repeatedly sodomised at school.

Once his health started to deteriorate, his parents took him to the hospital for a checkup and he was found to be HIV positive. Supposedly, he acquired the virus due to sexual abuse suffered at school. His father was shocked, suffered stroke and then died.”

At Misungwi: A child aged 9 years was regularly sodomised by fellow pupils, aged 12 and 13. They would pull the child to the bushes while coming from school and do it. After sometime the teachers noticed that child was not okay, upon inquiry he told them the whole story”

In conclusion, the research findings indicated that witchcraft beliefs play a big role in prevalence of violence against children in Tanzania. People expect to get quick money through abuse of children, especially raping young girls. Majority of perpetrators of sexual violence against children in Tanzania are neighbours, close relatives, bodaboda drivers and teachers.

PDF DOCUMENT

African Child Week-Reflections. “We owe our children the most vulnerable citizens in any society-a life free from violence and fear – Mandela”

Tanzania Human Rights Report: Sexual Violence against Children.

CfSC Strategic Plan Launch


CfSC’s staff and other partners witnessed the launch of its 2020 – 2024 strategic Plan launch. The event took place on 18th June 2020 at its offices. Below are the highlights of the event.

The Centre for Social Concern

The Centre For Social Concern (CfSC) is a project of the Missionaries of Africa (White Fathers). In line with their vision and mission, the CfSC seeks to promote Justice and Peace and the Integrity of Creation (JPIC) and Interfaith Dialogue in Malawi and beyond. The Centre was started in 2002 and in its short history has been working on issues like:

  • A monthly review of the cost of living through the Basic Needs Basket survey.
  • The international debt burden, its causes and debt cancellation.
  • The linkage between the international trade system and poverty and the rising cost of living in Malawi.
  • The plight of the tobacco tenants and the promotion of the passing of a bill regulating tobacco tenancy labour.
  • A survey on how people who have very low salaries cope with the ever-rising cost of living.
  • Marginalization of religious communities and (the lack of) participation in development.
  • Dialogue between Islam and the Catholic Church on their social teaching.
  • Conflict management and mediation, mainly in conflicts involving religion.

Project List

The Centre for Social Concern in its analysis has established that poverty the factor that impacts most on human dignity of Malawians. It has therefore developed the following programs:

The Social Conditions Programme examines the poverty situation with reference to local conditions and causes.

  • This has as main recurrent activity the Basic Needs Basket (BNB), which is simple way in calculating the cost of living.
  • It does occasional research coming from the data collected through the BNB survey.
  • Another activity is Social Protection monitoring.

The Economic Justice Programme looks at the international contributing factors of the persistent poverty in Malawi. It examines the international trade relations and imbalances and how they impact on the cost of living.

It monitors the spending of funds freed through debt cancellation. It promotes tax justice through studying the present tax system and proposing a more equitable way, where the stronger shoulders carry the bigger burden.

The Human and Social Capital Programme works at assisting youth and others to be better prepared through information sharing for their tasks in society.

  • The library and resource centre assist especially youth and young students through providing study facilities and books.
  • The Press Review offers information about how the press reported the events month by month and so forms its readers to be critical.
  • The Awareness Programme on Human Trafficking helps people to understand the evil of this modern form of slavery and combat it.

The Religion as Transformation Programme helps making religion a positive force for change in society.

The furthering of Catholic Social Teaching wants to make this “best kept secret” better known so that it can influence people to contribute better to the transformation of society.
The Interfaith Dialogue project studies how the faith dimension contributes to both the betterment of society as well as to conflict.

Administration assists in the implementation of all activities.

For further information about CfSC Projects please contact The Director

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