Newsletter South Africa No 70 – 28th December 2016


newsletter-south-africa-no-70-titleGreetings! We are still in the Christmas Season and, hopefully, in the Christmas spirit! But this Newsletter will be short because, as you read in my special message “A FREAK ACCIDENT”, I am now reduced to the use of only one hand; it is an awkward way of typing!

newsletter-south-africa-no-70-michel-meunier-with-justinOne good positive point, following that unfortunate accident, is that I have a very good “private driver and helper”. Indeed, Justin Ramde, a Burkinabe, going into his third year of theology in Cedara and living at our House of Formation in Merrivale, has been here since last Friday. He takes some weeks from his holiday to come here to help me. He has been very good, not only driving me safely here and there for different pastoral commitments, but also helping me during Mass (like holding the ciborium so I may distribute Holy Communion with my healthy hand), and showing himself very much of service for doing various things requiring both hands!

He was very happy to take part in the Christmas Eve Mass at Mother Teresa’s Home; the small chapel was packed with surely more than 100 poor and sick residents, adults and children, together with the Sisters. They sang wholeheartedly for the birth of Jesus and everybody was in a festive mood. After Mass, each one received a present from the Sisters. On Christmas day, we were at City Deep for the francophone community. The church was full and the choir was really good.

After Mass, four doctors from the congregation gave me a free medical consultation! They told me that the healing seems to be taking its course well. Thank you also for all your prayers!

I want to wish you all a very good Christmas Season and a Happy New Year!

Fr. Michel, M.Afr. Vocation Director.

Newsletter South Africa No 69 – 29th November 2016


newsletter-south-africa-no-69-titleGreetings! I hope you are well and that you have fully entered into the beautiful time of Advent! Yes, this is an occasion for each Christian to prepare to receive the Lord in a missionary way. Which means to involve others in this great hope and expectation of Jesus who is coming at Christmas. On the first Sunday of Advent, Pope Francis reminded us that “The Gospel is not trying to frighten us, but to open our horizons to further dimensions, giving meaning even to everyday events.” This is an invitation to open our hearts and minds to others, thus to live as missionaries wherever we are. The Pope adds: “we are called to enlarge the horizons of our hearts, to be surprised by the life that is presented each day with its newness. In order to do this we need to learn to not depend on our own securities, our own established plans, because the Lord comes at the hour which we don’t expect.” He concludes by saying that this time is “an invitation to vigilance, because, not knowing when He will come, we must always be ready…” On 14th November, I went to Malawi. The first night, I stayed at Mua Parish where I started as a young missionary in 1970; a long time ago! As part of the Parish life, Fr. Claude Boucher, M.Afr, from my home diocese in Canada has established an art school and a museum to help keep the Malawian culture. I suggest you visit their website at kungoni.org. You can see the museum and different aspects of his work with his team of artists. Then, from 15th to 21st, I was in Salima, on the shore of Lake Malawi. There, I did my yearly retreat in the house of retired bishop Rémi Sainte-Marie, bishop emeritus of Dedza Diocese and archbishop emeritus of Lilongwe arch-diocese. He welcomed me warmly and respected my times of prayer and silence. It was a good spiritual experience.

From the 22nd to the 26th in Chipata Pre-Formation Centre (Zambia), we held our meeting of Vocation Directors of the Southern African Province. We were from the four Sectors of Mozambique, Malawi, Zambia and South Africa.

vocation-directors-in-chipata-nov-2016This new Centre in Chipata currently has its second intake of 18 aspirants from Mozambique, Malawi and Zambia (nobody from South Africa!). From October to May, they are spending time discerning their vocation, exploring their self-knowledge with psychological assessments, in order to understand better their deepest aspirations and desires in the light of God’s call. They also study the Bible, Church history, liturgy, the missionary dimension of our lives as Christians, and how to reach out to people, especially the poor, and how to share with them the Good News. They also have activities such as manual work, sports, etc. After this intense period, if they are still decided and if they are accepted, they will be called to go to the First Phase of their formal training: three years of philosophy in Balaka, Malawi.

This month, our aspirant Patrick Kadima wrote an article for our Provincial blog. To read it, go to our blog at mafrsaprovince.com.

 Wishing you all the best for a blessed Christmas! Fr. Michel Meunier, M.Afr

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Newsletter South Africa No 68 – 27th October 2016


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

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

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

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

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

Newsletter South Africa No 67 – 27th September 2016


newsletter-south-africa-no-67-titleMy dear Friends, Greetings! I hope you are keeping well. Spring is in the air, and it is time to revive ourselves also! Every month, I read with great interest the reports of the KwaZulu Natal Vocation Team; they are a group of more than fifteen Seminarians and Sisters studying in Cedara; they belong to different congregations, and they meet regularly (mostly once a month). They also go to various parishes where, after the Sunday Mass, they interact with the youths on the theme of vocations: some of them have started to show genuine interest in discerning their own vocation. Bravo to the KZN Vocations Team! Keep up your good work!

Indeed, many young people are questioning themselves on the meaning of life and their own place in this pretty mixed up world. Last Sunday, 25th September, a very interesting Vocation Retreat was held at Bosco Youth Centre in Walkerville. Eighteen young men and women actively participated. They had attended most of the monthly discernment meetings at the Johannesburg cathedral during the year. The highlight of the retreat was surely the “Way of Mercy” we did while climbing a mountain and keeping a prayerful and reflective silence; at one station, we had the chance to have confessions; the two priests were kept very busy, as everyone came to the sacrament. On top of the mountain, near a big cross, we recited the chaplet of mercy. Then we came down for Mass. At the end of Mass eight of them received a special blessing, as they had decided where to go next year: either to the seminary or to the convent.

newsletter-south-africa-no-67-sambiLast month, I mentioned our new-comer, Pascal Sambi, from Burkina Faso. On Monday, his community drove him to Assisi, near Port Shepstone, where he is starting his Zulu course. Good luck, Pascal!

In a few days, we shall enter MISSION MONTH (October). The theme Pope Francis gives us this year is: MISSIONARY CHURCH, WITNESS OF MERCY. Read below a quotation from his letter for World Mission Sunday (23rd October). God calls everyone to be a missionary. Maybe he calls you to be a missionary “ad gentes”.

“The Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, which the Church is celebrating, casts a distinct light on World Mission Sunday 2016: it invites us to consider the ‘missio ad gentes’ (Mission outside our country) as a great, immense work of mercy, both spiritual and material. On this World Mission Sunday, all of us are invited to “go out” as missionary disciples, each generously offering their talents, creativity, wisdom and experience in order to bring the message of God’s tenderness and compassion to the entire human family. By virtue of the missionary mandate, the Church cares for those who do not know the Gospel, because she wants everyone to be saved and to experience the Lord’s love. She “is commissioned to announce the mercy of God, the beating heart of the Gospel” and to proclaim mercy in every corner of the world, reaching every person, young or old.” Pope Francis

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Newsletter South Africa No 66 – 28th August 2016


Newsletter South Africa no 66 titleGreetings! I hope you are well. I just received this letter here, on the right) from Patrick who explains where he is now and where he will stay for the coming two years. Enjoy reading it.

Dear Brothers and Sisters Greeting from afar!!! Ghana, Tamale in Nyankpala, where I am appointed for pastoral experience. I arrived in Ghana on 19th July, and so far I am just observing. Let me give you first an idea of what this period of pastoral experience is all about and then update you with what I have been doing so far, and what I will do, before I start swimming fully in these two years of pastoral experience.

The aim of these two years is to train me and prepare me for missionary life. These are years when the apostolic and pastoral components (working with youth, community development, various visits to the local people, catechism classes, to mention but a few) are predominant. The main task is for the apostolate, as well as a time of discernment. It will be a time of test to see if I have the necessary qualities to live a missionary life. This is by being a disciple of Jesus in the society of the Missionaries of Africa. Moreover, it is still a period of confirmation of the choice I made during my spiritual year. Briefly, those few lines give you a picture of what the period of pastoral experience is all about.

So far I have been assigned to a community in Tamale, Nyankpala. It is made of four members, two confrere-priests, John Amona (Ghana) and Gazena Haile (Ethiopia) and one who is in his second year of pastoral experience, Martial Kedem (Burkina-Faso). The four of us, from different parts of Africa, form a community of Missionaries of Africa in Nyankpala.

Newsletter South Africa No 66  FrFrom September 4th I will be going for my cultural classes (to learn the culture of the local people). This will last for a month. Thereafter, I will be sent to one of the families in the village, to learn the local language and to deepen my knowledge of the local culture. Last Sunday I went to the Ordination of Fr. Mathew Benze in Bolgatanga. This is where initially I was appointed (my appointment was changed to Nyankpala when I arrived in Accra). I was so happy to meet the big family of the M. Afr. I met Serge Boroto and Amani Dieudonné (who both did their theology in South Africa), and Timothée Bationo (who is in charge of Formation in Chipata, Zambia).

I will update you more as time goes by. I ask for your prayers that I may constantly listen to God’s voice and continue trusting Him in my life. I too, will keep you in my prayers. Happy new month of September! May Christ’s peace be with you all. Your Brother in Christ. Patrick Kalonji Kadima.

Here, we just received a M.Afr student, who will be in South Africa for two years as well, for his pastoral experience. He is now with us in Edenglen, but next week he will go to KwaZulu Natal to join his community in Henley. But before starting to work there, he will go spend at least three months in Assisi, near Port Shepstone to learn IsiZulu. He is from Burkina Faso, and his name is Pascal Sambi. He spent one year with Patrick in Kasama, Zambia, for his novitiate. Welcome, Pascal!

On Saturday, 27th, in St. Patrick’s Parish, Larochelle, a Lay Leaders’ Conference gathered more than 200 people from all parishes of Johannesburg Archdiocese.

Our Missionary Group was given a chance to explain that we must be missionaries not only “ad intra” (among ourselves), but also “ad extra” (outside our own country). I gave a talk in that sense, and also Bishop Jan DeGroef, M.Afr spoke abundantly in this same line. The people were very interested and promised to do their best to foster missionary vocations in their parishes.

We continue to pray for missionary vocations. Our Lady of the Assumption, (whom we just celebrated last Sunday) please, pray for us and with us for more young men to answer generously the call your Son. Amen! Fr. Michel Meunier, M.Afr

Newsletter South Africa No. 66 August 2016

Newsletter South Africa No 65 – 31st July 2016


Newsletter South Africa no 65 titleMy dear Friends, Greetings! I just arrived from my leave in Canada on Thursday noon. Two night flights with only 2 or 3 hours’ sleep, and the jet lag (6 hours’ difference) make me feel very sleepy and I often doze off at any time of the day. Then I wake up in the middle of the night without being able to sleep again until the morning hours! Those two long flights (6 hours and 11 hours respectively) and 12 hours in Paris, took me back here without major incident or accident. Thank God! In this day and age of terrorism, one never knows what might happen! In Paris, I had the chance of meeting Fr. Didier Michon, who was here in South Africa for a good number of years. He just turned 81 and seems to be quite well. My 2 months’ holiday went by very fast! I met very many people, first my family then many friends. At the Provincial House, I met a young man from my home town who shows some interest in joining the M.Afr. He has worked in various well-paying jobs, but he wants to do something deeper with his life. He is soon going to one of our missions in Africa to build up an experience of being a missionary.

Newsletter South Africa No 65 ANewsletter South Africa No 65 BOne day I went to a Trappist (1) Monastery for a short visit and a quiet time of prayer. There, I met a former neighbour of mine (Brother Bruno). He is 8 years younger than me, therefore I did not know him very well when I was young. But when he was 21 years old, after some years playing the drums in different rock bands, he joined the Trappists, wanting to give his life to God in a deeper way. He is now 64 and, with a permanent smile, he looks so happy and serene! We had a good chat together. I was hoping to rest after my arrival, but there were so many requests for Masses and Confessions! All three of us (Fr. Christophe Boyer, Fr. George Okwii and myself) have been fully busy replacing Priests who are gone either on holidays or to the World Youth Days in Poland.

Patrick Kadima wrote some short messages saying that he had arrived in Ghana, diocese of Tamale in the north, for his 2 years of pastoral experience. I presume he is now starting to learn the local language. Hopefully, he will send more news for the August Newsletter.

I wish you a very good month. Do not forget the important feast of Our Lady of the Assumption (15th August, but celebrated here the following Sunday, 21st August). She is the Patron Saint of South Africa. Pray Mother Mary to help our country, especially to foster more peace and understanding; let us ask her to intervene to God on our behalf for a quiet and peaceful election day. Also, ask her to enlighten you on your vocation.

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

(1) The Trappists are one of the most strict order of monks; they spend most of their time in silence, praying and working.

Newsletter South Africa No. 65 July 2016

Mafrwestafrica lettre du 30 juin 2016


Missionnaire d'Afrique Logo Afrique de l'ouestAujourd’hui, les Missionnaires d’Afrique de l’Ouest vous proposent de visiter de nouvelles pages sur leur site http://www.mafrwestafrica.net.

Actualités

« Le nouveau maire de Ouagadougou » un article publié dans le magazine « Jeune Afrique » (lire la suite)

« Le développement plutôt que le sécuritaire » un article publié le 24 juin à propos de l’Afrique de l’Ouest. (lire la suite)

 Témoignages 

« Contempler les paraboles » un texte proposé par le père Herman Bastijns pour un temps de retraite. (lire la suite)

« Boko Haram au Niger » le texte reçu d’un étudiant Missionnaire d’Afrique qui vit son stage de formation à Niamey. (lire la suite)

« Formation chez les SMNDA » un article écrit par une « Sœur Blanche » et qui nous parle de la formation au sein de cette congrégation missionnaire très proche des Pères Blancs (lire la suite)

Dialogue interreligieux

« Ramadan, Dialogue, Coran » : trois articles récents pris sur le site de l’A.R.C.R.E. (lire la suite)
« Quel dialogue est possible ? » Une question qui se pose d’une manière de plus en plus forte dans la situation actuelle. (lire la suite)

Justice et Paix

« A l’aube d’un nouveau moyen-âge » Même si nous vivons en 2016, de nombreux signes préoccupants de notre société nous renvoient loin en arrière (lire la suite)

« Magistrats en colère au Burkina » un article datant du 16 juin, sur le site « Afrik.com ». Les magistrats remettent en effet en cause l’action des autorités politiques au sein du conseil supérieur de la magistrature (lire la suite)

Vu au Sud – Vu du Sud

« Où en est le Mali suite aux accords d’Alger ? » Ces accords datent du 20 juin 2015. Des informations prises sur le site de Radio France Internationale. (lire la suite)

« Le chef d’Ansar Dine menace les forces internationales » Toujours sur le Mali, des informations à la fois très récentes, et des explications plus anciennes au sujet des divers groupes islamiques s’y trouvant (lire la suite)

Newsletter South Africa No 64 – 20th June 2016


Newsletter South Africa no 64 titleThis Newsletter comes to you earlier than usual, because in the next ten days I will be on a long trip with some friends in a part of Canada that I have never visited: we will be touring the Magdalen Islands, in the far eastern part of the country, between the provinces of Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. Look on the map!

Newsletter South Africa No. 64 June 2016 Magdalen IslandsAs you can see, this Newsletter is also quite short. I am out of the South African context and also I am kept quite busy with my relatives and friends, without mentioning many M.Afr confreres whom I am meeting here after many years; we have so many stories to tell one another and a lot of news to catch up on. The most important piece of news this last month has been the election of our new General Council in Rome. Last month, I already told you about the new Superior General, Fr. Stanley Lubungo. This time, I simply send you an attachment introducing all five members of the new General Team. You surely will notice that they are men of great experience, having lived in different countries and worked in various fields. This is what we expect of Missionaries of Africa. Hopefully, reading about the background of each one will inspire you.

Newsletter South Africa No. 64 June 2016 Circus people introduced their tiger to Pope FrancisI just want to add one remark about Pope Francis’ approach to people during this JUBILEE YEAR OF MERCY. I am so struck by his very down-to-earth way of interacting with people, just like Jesus who went about, meeting people where they were. Pope Francis visits people, especially the poor and unsophisticated. And he invites them to come celebrate the Year of Mercy at the Vatican, whoever they are, whatever work they do, the sick and healthy alike. Recently, he met with people working in circuses and encouraged them to continue bringing joy through their entertainment. He often focuses on joy (see his beautiful exhortation The Joy of the Gospel); a Christian is someone who lives in the joy of the Risen Lord.

In the midst of our unsettled and struggling society, may we give more joy and hope to the people we meet! This is surely a very good way to be a missionary!

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

New General Council 2016

Our Mission Newsletter Edition No 8 – South Africa


MISSIO LogoHi dear friends of OUR MISSION!

The annual General Assembly of all the National Directors of the Pontifical Mission Societies (Missio) took place in Rome from 30 May to 4 June 2016 and was well attended by the majority of the 116 National Directors, (representing many more countries as some of the directors represent more than one country) unfortunately some few directors were unable to attend because of visa issues.

The Assembly grants a wonderful opportunity to share experiences, challenges and the realities of the specific countries in which we work. It is so special to meet those who represent Catholic life and mission in countries which normally receive less exposure like: East Timor, Taiwan, Indonesia, Iran, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Kazakhstan, amongst others. It opens one’s mind to the amazing universality of the Church and its particular mission activity in places where Catholics and other Christian churches are often tiny minorities.

We are thankful to the Lord that this year once again, through the generosity and sacrifices of the faithful throughout the world we were able to distribute in a just manner help for thousands of projects originating in over 1150 dioceses mostly in Asia and Africa. The challenge that we are facing over the past few years is the reality of a constant decrease in funds from donations and an ever increasing need by young Churches for help to properly train local priests, Religious and Lay leaders to evangelise the people as well as to provide much needed help in the precarious situations of the local people in these regions.

General Assembly of all the National DirectorsOur biggest challenge is to promote the Universal Missionary activity of the Church in such a way that all the faithful feel involved, enthusiastic and committed and realise the urgency of the evangelisation process throughout the whole world and the need for their active participation and collaboration.

All, without exception, are called to be involved in this missionary activity whether they are from so-called donor countries or from young churches. The Catholic Church in Africa and Asia are going to have to become ever more protagonists in the missionary activity of the Church as increasingly European and other so-called developed countries become more and more secularised and their people declare themselves as belonging to no faith.

The Church in Africa urgently needs to become ever more self-supporting and self-reliant—we need local clergy and Religious. We also need to become truly missionary by sending Priests and Religious as missionaries and by supporting financially the new mission territories of the world. The time is ripe for the Catholic Church in Southern Africa to take up the challenge and live her Missionary responsibility!

Fr. Gordon Rees mccj, National (Missio SACBC) PMS Director – South Africa, Botswana & Swaziland.

Click here to open the PDF file of the magazine.

Newsletter South Africa No 62 – 29th April 2016


Newsletter South Africa No 62 titleGreetings! I hope you are keeping well and that this month has been an occasion to reflect and pray more on your vocation. On April 17, the fourth Sunday of Easter, the Church celebrated the 53rd World Day of Prayer for Vocations. This year’s theme was: “The Church, Mother of Vocations”. Pope Francis wrote: ‘Each vocation in the Church has its origin in the compassionate gaze of Jesus.’ The Church – and don`t forget: you/we are the Church – is where vocations take their root. Pope Francis also writes in his message for Vocation Sunday: Vocations are born within the Church… Vocations grow within the Church… and… Vocations are sustained by the Church. If you belong to a lively and prayerful parish, you can discover your vocation in the context of that community: get involved in it and have regular contacts with your priest. Are you active in your parish community? Are you committed in helping its growth in one way or the other? If you find that your parish is not lively enough, talk with your priest and with elders of your community, get other youths together and DO something about it! This is a good way to be a missionary!

From 25th to 27th of this month, I went to Thohoyandou in Limpopo to enquire and learn more about the life and death of Blessed Benedict Daswa. Indeed, last year when he was beatified on 13th September 2015, I was not able to go. I was very lucky to stay over with Blessed Benedict’s cousin who knew him very well. On the second day, we were joined by Sister Claudette, who, with a team of lay people, worked very hard to promote Benedict’s beatification. With the two of them, I had the chance to visit all the places where Benedict lived, taught and became a headmaster. We celebrated Mass in the small church which he built with the help of his learners and the local Christians. I met also many members of his family, some of his children and especially his dear mother who is now 90 years old. Blessed Daswa left a very memorable souvenir in the minds and hearts of most people not only of his area, but also of the whole of South Africa. He was a real saint who lived his catholic faith to the end, even to accepting death. He always fought for truth, and we all know that he died for having opposed witchcraft which causes so much harm in society.

Newsletter South Africa No 62 picturebWhat is interesting about Benedict is that he was a very ordinary boy who grew up in a remote village of Limpopo in a very loving family; he was baptised as a catholic only when he was 17 years old he became a teacher, got married and fathered eight children. He became a real leader in his village, always guided by his catholic faith in action, and not only in words. He had a great love for all people, especially the youth whom he trained to become real good Christians and citizens. He can be a real inspiration and role model for each one of us. Pray through his intercession; ask him to help you discover your Christian vocation.

Keep well and keep smiling! God bless you! Fr. Michael Meunier, M.Afr

Newsletter South Africa No 61 – 28th March 2016


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

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

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

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

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

Newsletter South Africa No 60 – 26th February, 2016


Newsletter South Africa no 60 titlelentGreetings in this season of Lent! By the way, do you know what the meaning of the word “Lent” is? Here is a definition from a Catholic website: “The word Lent itself is derived from the Anglo-Saxon lencten, meaning “Spring”, and lenctentid which literally means not only “Springtide”, but also was the word for “March”, the month in which the majority of Lent falls” (Catholic Education Resource Centre). Of course, here in the southern hemisphere, the time of Lent does not fall in spring, but at the end of summer and the beginning of autumn. So, the meaning of new life brought in nature through the spring flowers, plants and leaves, is not so obvious. Therefore, let us ourselves be signs of this new life brought to us by Jesus through his passion, death and resurrection. May this Lenten season be an opportunity for each of us to give life through our prayer, acts of mercy and self-sacrifice.

I think the big news for this month is that our Superior General Fr, Richard Baawobr (Ghanaian) has been chosen by Pope Francis to become the Bishop of his home diocese of Wa in northern Ghana! This appointment comes just at the end of his term at the helm of our Society. Indeed, he will be ordained bishop on 7th May, and on 13th he will preside our 28th General Chapter (held every six years) when a new Superior General will be elected. Congratulations!

In the same line of thoughts, another good piece of good news: the appointment of Fr. Duncan Tsoke, Vicar General of Johannesburg Archdiocese, as Auxiliary Bishop. We are very pleased with the choice. Fr. Tsoke, as a young priest, spent more than one year with us, M.Afr, for his training in pastoral work. We are happy as well to consider Bishop Abel Gabuza (Kimberley Diocese) and Bishop Peter Holiday (Kroonstad Diocese) as our good friends because they too spent some time with us in their training as young priests. Fr. Duncan will be ordained Bishop on 30th April in Regina Mundi, Soweto. Congratulations!

Jones Kawisha 2016B_JPEGAnother important piece of news: a young M.Afr has just arrived in South Africa to be a staff member in our Formation House of Merrivale and to teach at Cedara. A few years ago, in our Provincial Blog, he introduced himself: “I am Jones Kawisha from Kabwe, Zambia. I was ordained priest in 2008 and appointed to the Maghreb province. I am in the community of Tizi Ouzou in Algeria since 2009. Encounter has been my priority and my main apostolate. My experience has been positive and rich. In September this year, I will be going to Paris to study Theology of Religions in order to have a broader understanding of different religions to enrich my encounter apostolate….” In 2011, on his way to Zambia, for a well-deserved holiday before going to Paris, Fr. Jones spent a few days with us in Edenglen community. On 9th July 2011, some of you aspirants had a chance to meet him during a Come & See in Koinonia. There, he gave us a very interesting talk on his vocation and his work as a missionary among Muslims in Algeria (See Newsletter No 6, 25th July 2011). Fr. Jones did his noviciate in Burkina Faso. Fr. Jan De Groef, M.Afr, was then one of his formators, and is now bishop of Bethlehem Diocese in the Free State.

Only One RaceThis month, we engaged on an anti-racism campaign called “Only One Race, The Human Race”. We printed fifty thousand leaflets which we distribute in parishes, schools and any other public areas. The need for racial harmony has never been so urgent in South Africa since the end of apartheid. Let us pray for a better understanding and love among all people. Please, pray also for those who paid for the printing of these leaflets.

Wishing you all a good Lenten journey and a happy ascent to Easter!

Newsletter South Africa No 60

Newsletter South Africa No 59 – 29th January, 2016


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God bless you!

Fr. Michael Meunier, M.Afr

Newsletter South Africa No 59b2

Newsletter South Africa No 58 – 26th December, 2015


Newsletter South Africa no 58 titleMy dear Friends, Christmas Greetings to you all! It is with joy that I write to you on this day after Christmas, which is celebrated here in South Africa as the “DAY OF GOOD WILL”. Consider the message of the angels on Christmas night: “…Peace to people of good will”!

Newsletter South Africa No 58 Deacons SA Dec 2015As mentioned in the last Newsletter, on 27th November six of our candidates became officially Missionaries of Africa by taking their missionary oath. The next day, they were ordained deacons. Now they are all gone to different M.Afr parishes in Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique to help out during their Christmas holidays. They will be back by mid-January for their annual retreat and their last academic year in Cedara.

From 3rd to 6th December, there was the mini World Youth Day in Bosco Centre near Walkerville. Over two thousand youths came from all over, including Botswana and Lesotho! On Saturday 5th, with two youth interested in the M.Afr, we put up our exhibition; many visited it and asked questions. We hope and pray for vocations.

On December 8, Patrick and his co-novices received the M.Afr habit and rosary in the noviciate in Zambia. From 11th to 14th I took part in the Xaveri Camp in Rustenburg: 85 youths and adults were present. Nice occasion to introduce them to a possible vocation as missionary priest, brother and sister!

Fr. Jean-Pierre Le Scour, M.Afr who works to combat human trafficking in the Mozambique-South Africa border had a serious heart operation and is now resting here. Your prayers for him, please.

Christmas is still here. May it last the whole year: “It is Christmas every time you let God love others through you… yes, it is Christmas every time you smile at your brother and offer him your hand.” (Mother Teresa)

Fr. Michael Meunier, M.Afr

Newsletter South Africa No 58

Christmas. Jesus is our gift!


Pontifical Mission Societies SA-04-2015 01The greatest gift of God to us is Jesus Christ himself—the Emmanuel—God with us. The celebration of Christmas is all about God’s love and mercy towards us as human beings. Jesus came to show us the merciful and loving face of the Father, in order that we might come to understand our dignity as sons and daughters and so recognize in each person—our brother or sister.

More than two-thousand years after the coming of our Saviour, it is plain to see from the violence, war, hate, corruption and exploitation present in our society, that we didn’t get the message that we failed to understand the Kingdom of God and its benefits for all humanity. Christmas is about celebrating our new life in Christ—it is really not about expensive gifts, scrumptious feasts and wild parties—it is all about understanding our own dignity and that of others and so begin living in an attitude of mutual respect. To live the golden rule “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” (Lk 6:31). We need to see the world through the merciful eyes of Jesus and like Him, be people who go about doing good, bringing hope, peace, joy and life to all who we meet on our earthly pilgrimage.

Pontifical Mission Societies SA-04-2015 02Jesus still offers himself as a constant and eternal gift of mercy, healing, hope and new-life for all of us that open our hearts and minds to Him.

He desires that we have the fullness and abundance of life (Jn 10:10) and offers Himself as the Way, Truth and Life (Jn 14:6) to all who seek Him with sincerity and humility. Once we accept to follow Him and become missionary disciples, then automatically we are called and sent to be “other Christs” (anointed) people who are the gift of Christ to all whom we meet.

Our mission on this earth is to be the hands, feet, mouth, mind and heart of Jesus so as to bring about transformation and the coming of the Kingdom in our society.

We are in this Jubilee Year of Mercy

Let us open ourselves and invite others to this life changing experience! A very blessed Christmas and a New Year filled with the joy of being missionaries of God’s mercy!

Fr. Gordon Rees mccj. National PMS Director – SA, Botswana & Swaziland

Pontifical Mission Societies SA-04-2015

Newsletter South Africa No 57 – 26th November, 2015


Newsletter South Africa no 57 title (2)My dear Friends, Greetings! I hope you are well. Today, as you receive this NEWSLETTER, most of us M.Afr are travelling to Merrivale, our house of formation, for two great celebrations. Indeed, six of our candidates will take their Missionary Oath tomorrow, Friday, and thus become fully fledged Missionaries of Africa. The following day, they will be ordained deacons! After their last year of theology, sometime toward the end of next year, they shall be ordained priests in their respective parishes of origin. But this being such an important occasion, some of their relatives have travelled to attend these two great events. Already yesterday, the parents and a nephew of our Tanzanian deacon-to-be, Konrad, arrived from Dar-es-Salaam. This afternoon, I will be driving with them to Merrivale. The others are Albert from Burkina Faso, Alphonse from Rwanda, Robin from Zambia, Damian from Uganda and Douglas from Kenya. I hope that we will have one or two good photos of them in the next Newsletter. You may be asking yourself “What is a missionary oath?” Well, here is a short explanation. We, Missionaries of Africa, are not a “religious congregation” as such. We are a “society of apostolic life” and we also live the three evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity and obedience; but we do not take vows. We promise to live a simple life style (poverty, or freedom from things), obedience to our superiors (freedom to serve), and chastity (freedom to love) in our missionary oath – which is a solemn promise on the Bible. Here is an extract of the text of our missionary oath: “… I promise and swear to the Superior General of the Society fidelity and obedience… to observe celibacy for the sake of the Kingdom.” I therefore ask you to keep in your prayers these six new Missionaries of Africa.

Newsletter South Africa no 57 titleI hope this month has been a blessed one for each of you. In spite of all the upheavals happening in the world, the students’ strikes and violent demonstrations, we can see some positive signs of life here and there in our society and throughout the world. Pope Francis is now in Kenya since yesterday. His coming to Africa – his first one – is under the sign of hope and peace to our broken world. Everywhere he goes, he brings a refreshing touch of joy, the joy of the Gospel. Let us pray that his visit in Kenya, then in Uganda and finally in the Central African Republic will sow seeds of peace among these nations of Africa and at the same time, be an inspiration to the rest of the world.

Today is “Lavigerie Day”: yes, for us Missionaries of Africa and Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Africa (MSOLA), we celebrate this as our FOUNDER’S DAY. Please, pray for us and for vocations. Thank you!

In a few days, we shall start a new liturgical year, the year of the Church. The time of Advent is really an occasion for opening up to Jesus and our neighbours. Many people nowadays like to wish us “happy holiday” and they have forgotten the reason for the season: Jesus! When they greet you like this, be proud to answer firmly and proudly: HAPPY CHRISTMAS!

Wishing you all a prayerful Advent and a very HAPPY CHRISTMAS!

Fr. Michael Meunier, M.Afr

No. 57 November 2015

Newsletter South Africa No 56 – 26th October, 2015


Newsletter South Africa no 56 titleBy Fr. Michael Meunier, M.Afr

My dear Friends, Greetings! I hope you are well. On 12th to 14th of this month we had another Sector meeting in Merrivale where we discussed especially different points to prepare our Chapter of next year; a Chapter is a special meeting held every six years at our General House in Rome; it can last many weeks. It is there that we evaluate the last six years and plan for the future orientations of our Society of the Missionaries of Africa. The delegates will also elect a new Superior General with his Council of four members. Our actual General team is composed thus: the Superior General is a Ghanaian, and his four assistants are from DR Congo, Mexico, England and Belgium.

One important aspect of our work in the last six years has been to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the anti-slavery campaign led by our founder, Cardinal Lavigerie from 1888 onward.1 One of our confreres, Fr. Jean-Pierre Le Scour, is very active in this line in the area of Malelane and Komatipoort, and as far as in Mozambique. Here is an extract from the report he gave at our last meeting.

“The month of September has been marked by an increase in the number of children disappearing, aged between 8 and 14 years. One of them was able to fight off the aggressor but was hit with a broken bottle in the race and received 8 stitches. I have organised a workshop in all the schools about the dangers of living in a small border town and given a course in self-defence to a few volunteers.

Following my latest reports, good contacts have been established with the CTIP (Counter Trafficking In Persons Office – of the Bishops’ Conference). A meeting has been set for the 5th October at Khanya House – Offices of the Bishops’ Conference in Pretoria) to meet with a delegation from the Vatican. Workshops are being conducted in the Nkomazi District as well as in Mozambique.

Newsletter South Africa no 56 pictureThe sale of human organs from Mozambique to South Africa continues and with the increase of children disappearing, it is a very worrying trend. A few years ago, a Brazilian Sister was murdered in Nampula – Mozambique – for denouncing that practice. On 8th September 2015, an albino child was sold by his parents in Nampula again. The cases that surface are only the tip of the iceberg.” We cannot gauge how far our anti-slavery campaign has produced fruit, but the fact is that Pope Francis is taking a very keen interest in this issue and he already has taken some very decisive actions in this domain; not only within the Church, but also with Governments of many nations where the problem is more acute. And we know that the British Parliament as well as the United Nations are strongly supporting his efforts. At the end of this Mission Month, let us ask the Spirit of God to help us have “A Passion for Jesus and for his People” (theme chosen by Pope Francis for this year’s Mission Month), especially those who suffer the most. Let us pray and act in favour of victims of human trafficking. God bless you all!

See PDF file here

Newsletter South Africa No 54 – 26th August, 2015


Newsletter South Africa no 54 titleMy dear Friends, Greetings! I hope you are well.

This month has been quite busy, as usual! I guess it has been the same for you too. But let us always take some time to stop and relax and pray. This is important if we want to listen to God who whispers to us mostly in stillness.

In the last two months we were very fortunate in the Southern Africa Province to have two ordinations to the priesthood: one in Malawi and one in Zambia. If you like to see beautiful pictures and read about those events, you can go to our blog at mafrsaprovince.com. I am sure you will find plenty of other interesting news as well.

On Monday 10th, Fr. Seán O’Leary, M.Afr, left us. Fr. Seán has been in South Africa for over 30 years! During the apartheid era, he was even jailed because of his opposition to the oppressive regime. After many years of work in different parishes and then at the Bishops’ Conference – where he was in charge of the Bishop Hurley Institute –, he is now appointed to Ireland, his native country. He will be the Sector Bursar as well as coordinator for all matters of Justice and Peace for the M.Afr throughout our European province. We wish him all the very best and accompany him with our prayers. Thank you, Seán! You will surely be missed and you will miss South Africa, we are sure! This is the lot of missionaries: we come and go!

Now that Fr. Seán is gone, Fr. Christophe Boyer, the South Africa Sector Bursar, and I are alone here in Edenglen. Without counting all the pastoral commitments (helping around in parishes and schools, giving retreats and sessions to various Movements like Cursillos, CWL, St. Vincent de Paul, etc.), we are often running to the airport and bus stations to receive and send off visitors, and preparing evening meals for them. 

As mentioned last month, most of our new candidates arrived to start their theology studies in Cedara, near our Formation House of Merrivale in KZN. Finally, on 12th August, Hallen and Shiby arrived from India; they were happy to stay with us overnight and board the bus for Pietermaritzburg the following day. The next Sunday, Francis from Nigeria arrived also at OR Tambo airport and took the bus on Monday morning. We are still expecting the two from D.R. Congo; they are still waiting for their visa! We hope they’ll be here soon because their school year has already started three weeks ago! At the moment, in Merrivale, we have thirty one theology students.

There, our students are very busy; first of all, with their studies, of course; this takes a great part of their time. Then their life of prayer takes surely a good chunk of their day. And especially on weekends, they are occupied with all kinds of pastoral work in the nearby parishes. Some of them are particularly involved in our own parish of Henley (more on this, next month). We have also some who are members of the KZN Pastoral Care of Vocations: with seminarians of other congregations as well as Sisters, they regularly visit parishes for their Sunday Masses and meet with the youths afterward. We hope and pray that they may in this way plant the seed for some vocations to flourish from those parishes.

Our only candidate from this Sector, as you know, is Patrick Kadima. He is still on holiday with his family, but preparing to go for his noviciate early next month in Zambia.

Let us continue strong in our faith and confident that the Good Lord is still calling many of us to be his true missionaries. God bless you all!

Fr. Michael Meunier, M.Afr