Speech of the Superior General during the inauguration of Matema Parish, Tete, Mozambique

bishop-inacio-saure-tete_jpegTete, 8th October 2016

My Lord Bishop Inácio Saure, Fr Felix J. Phiri, Provincial of the Missionaries of Africa, Fr Boris Yabre, Provincial Delegate of the Missionaries of Africa for Mozambique, Reverend Fathers and Sisters, distinguished guests, distinguished members of the newly erected parish of Matema, brothers and sisters. It is with great humility that I stand before you today to thank and praise God Almighty for the grace of witnessing to the birth of a new parish in Tete.

The Society of the Missionaries of Africa, also known as the White Fathers, was founded in 1868 by Cardinal Charles Lavigerie in North Africa, in Algeria. This means that soon, in 2018, we will be celebrating the 150th anniversary of the foundation of our congregation, and I take this opportunity to invite you to accompany us with your prayers as we draw closer to this important event for our congregation. In the past 150 years, members of the Society of the Missionaries of Africa left their homelands in Europe and North America to bring the Good News to many parts of Africa. Today, there are more and more Africans ourselves who are doing missionary work among our fellow African brothers and sisters. bishop-francisco-silota_jpegOne of the bishops of Mozambique, Bishop Francisco Silota of the diocese of Chimoio, originally from Tete, is a member of our congregation, the current Superior General of the Missionaries of Africa, and as was his predecessor, is an African. The words of Pope Paul VI when he visited Uganda in 1969, that Africa will be evangelized by Africans, are being fulfilled today, not just because of African missionaries, but more importantly because of the vitality and vibrancy of lay involvement. The official inauguration of the parish of Matema here in Tete is yet another testimony that the Kingdom of God is indeed growing among the people of this Town.

The Missionaries of Africa first came to Mozambique in 1946 and opened their first parish in Murraça, in Beira. Since then, over 100 members of our congregation have served as missionaries, at different moments and in different parts of the country. They conducted their ministry mostly along the river Zambezi. This is the fourth parish that we have opened in the diocese of Tete. In the early fifties, parishes were opened in Inhangoma and Charre in the district of Mutarara, and a parish and the seminary of Zobue along the border with Malawi were started too. In 1967, the Centre of Nazare in Beira was founded as a catechetical and pastoral renewal Centre. Following the events of 1971, our predecessors were expelled from the country by the Portuguese, only to come back after the Independence of Mozambique. In the 1980s we restarted the Major Seminary in Matora, Maputo, where Don Inácio was once a seminarian. 

During our long stay we have started up new parishes and handed over some, mostly due to the expulsion of our members from the country. At present we are still working in the diocese of Chimoio, in the parishes of Sussundenga and Dombe, and we are also continuing with our commitment in Nazare Centre where one of our confreres Fr. Fidel Salazar is also the Chairperson of the Justice and Peace Commission for the diocese of Beira.

Our long stand missionary experience in many parts of Africa has brought us closer not only to the joys but also the pains of the African people. As our founder once said: “I am a man, and nothing human is foreign to me.” It is in this spirit and at the occasion of the 70th anniversary of our presence in this country that we felt challenged to come back to the diocese of Tete where we once were some years back.

We rejoice with the people of Tete for the peace and rapid development being experienced at the moment. As we all know, development cannot be measured only in terms of material gains; more cars in our streets or more new shops. Satisfactory development has to be integral, taking into account all the dimensions of the human person, the respect for human rights and dignity, equal accessibility to opportunities of life. Similarly, the preaching of the Gospel cannot just limit itself to getting more people into our church buildings, counting their numbers, administering to them the required sacraments. As missionaries, we are called especially to reach out to those that the so called prosperous society has no time for; the poor, the neglected, those whose rights are trampled upon because of the greed of a few. We are also to bring spiritual solace to those who appear to ‘have it all’ and yet inside of themselves they are empty, yearning to give true meaning to their lives, to experience the mercy of God.

We are grateful to Don Inácio for welcoming us back to this diocese and to the town of Tete where we hope to be his faithful collaborators. We look forward, together with all the other members of the Church, and by the grace of God to render the message of the Gospel a reality in the day-to-day life of the people. As Missionaries of Africa, we emphasize on working as a team in our pastoral undertakings. It is to be expected that Fr Pierre Lukusa, the newly installed Parish Priest, will promote this Missionary of Africa spirit and collaborative ministry approach. We thank him and Fr Julian Kasiya for having accepted to take on this great responsibility. We would like express our gratitude also to the Comboni Missionaries who welcomed us in Martyrs of Uganda Parish, Matundu, and from which is born this new parish of Matema. The encouragement and support that we have received from the Christians of the parish of Matema re-assure us that we will not walk alone. May Our Lady Queen of Africa intercede for us so that we may remain truthful and faithful to the Good News of her Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.

stan-lubungo_jpegStanley Lubungo (M.Afr), Superior General

Link: Matema Parish, Tete, Mozambique


PDF Speech of the Superior General


Canonical inauguration of the ‘Paróquia nossa senhora das Gracas’ Parish in Tete, Mozambique – October 8, 2016.

inauguration-of-parish-tete-04By Dimitri Yampa, stagiaire in Dombe Parish.   

From Sussundenga, the Nazare Centre in Beira and Dombe, the Missionaries of Africa together with Mozambican aspirants and stagiaires, went to Tete escorted by the ‘coluna’ because of the war affecting this area of Mozambique. Our new Superior General, Stanley Lubungo, and our new Provincial, Felix Phiri, came by the road from Lusaka, Zambia. On October 8, the mother parish of the Saint Martyrs of Uganda of Matungu in Tete gave birth to a new child; the ‘Paróquia nossa senhora das Gracas’ Parish.

The new parish was erected canonically by Bishop Inácio Saure of Tete Diocese. The ceremony started with a procession followed by the opening of the church’s doors, the ointment of the altar together with the walls inside the church. On that same occasion, Pierre Lukusa, M.Afr, was officially installed as Parish Priest.

Bishop Inácio Saure concelebrated Mass with many priests like the Missionaries of Africa, the Combonians, the Salesians, the Jesuits and diocesan priests. The Bishop invited the new Parish Priest to a collaborative ministry by carrying out his mission with joy while visiting his parishioners in their families and small communities. Symbolically, the keys of the church were given to Father Lukusa after the homely of the Bishop.

The Christians were thankful for the presence of so many Missionaries of Africa coming from abroad. Stanley Lubungo made a speech in English underlined the history of our missionaries in Mozambique, which was moderated in Portuguese by padre João de Deus (Jean de Dieu Bukuru), M.Afr. The new M.Afr community of Tete was given the mission to spread the spirit of the Society in their ministry by living in a community enriched by its values of openness and interculturality.

A fraternal meal was provided at the house of the Sisters of São José of Cluny. Everything was well organised by the Christians of the new parish. Gifts were offered to the Bishop as a sign of unity. The party ended at 17:30 by the benediction of the Bishop. May God bless this new mission and the Society of the Missionaries of Africa. 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Canonical inauguration of the ‘Paróquia nossa senhora das Gracas’ Parish in Tete, Mozambique – October 8, 2016.

Second interview with Pierre Lukusa

In the first Interview with Pierre Lukusa, we learned how our confrere found his way to Brazil and some discoveries he made on the path of his inner self-awareness related to alcohol dependency. In a new interview, Pierre offers us a deeper understanding of himself and the environment surrounding Fezenda de Esperança in Brazil.

Fezenda da Esperança

Can you remind us about your journey leading to Brazil?
It happened that the founders of Fazenda da Esperança, Fr. Hans Stapel OFM, and Mr. Nelson Giovanneli, knew the Missionaries of Africa in Mozambique very well. They offered me the opportunity to go to Brazil for a full year programme. I came here on the 17th August 2012. I was very well received. So much so, that I felt part of a family from the very beginning. My immigration papers are in order till August 2013 when the programme officially ends.
Tell us a bit more about the physical environment of Fezenda da Esperança.
The Centre is located at about 300km North-East of the mega city of São Paulo. The place is encircled by few Christian communities belonging to the neighbouring parish. In a valley, the Centre is surrounded by the Sierra de Mantiqueira Mountains. In general, the weather is cool and the environment is conducive to personal meditation and reflection. It is like a retreat centre whereby I can reflect upon my life and my missionary vocation.
Made up of ten houses, the Centre can accommodate 160 people for a therapeutic programme. To this figure, we need to add 15 residents; the father in charge and his counsellors. At the moment we number 167. Each house forms a community under the guidance of two coordinators who are themselves under the responsibility of a “Padrinho”, usually an ex-dependent who had already finished his therapy and work as a volunteer. Since last February, I am one of those “Padrinhos” in charge of two houses.
At this point, I need to mention that there are currently 90 Fazenda da Esperança Therapeutic Centres, throughout the world, including one in Dombe, Mozambique, at the White Fathers Mission.
What is the specific charism or spirituality of Fazenda da Esperança?
Thanks to the spirituality of the Fazenda, my way of thinking and perceiving reality has positively changed towards everything. My daily experiences among my fellow drug addicts, as well as the “Direct Approach to the Unconscious” (ADI) programme, have helped me to understand the therapeutic method used in the Fazenda to help people caught by chemical dependency such as drug addiction and alcoholism.
In his own time, Saint Francis of Assisi was a God´s sign for the Church when he proposed poverty and fraternal life style as a path leading to hope. Up to now, many people are inspired by this spirituality. Nowadays, this insight embraces drug addicted people and alcoholics.
More recently, Chiara Lubich, the founder of the Focolari movement, brought in the world the great charism of “Unity”. It has become a collective spirituality bearing in itself a new hope for our century. This spirit of unity consists in putting Jesus at the centre of every single activity, including the decision making process.
Those charismatic insights inspired Fr. Stapel and three young people; Nelson, Iraci and Lucilene. As a result, the Franciscan spirituality and the Focolari Movement have become the soul that animate Fazenda da Esperança; to bring hope to desperate people of our time, not only the drug addicted people and alcoholics but also families affected by all kind of behavioural disorders of their members.
In a nutshell, Fazenda da Esperança is a Catholic community that is taking care of young drug and alcohol addicts, trying to show them a new way of life by living each day according to the Gospel.
Can you tell us more about the therapeutic method used by Fazenda?
The experience shows that those who seek help are suffering from inner problems before becoming drug or alcohol addicts. In other words, they are spiritually, psychologically, mentally, emotionally and morally disturbed before being physically dependant on drugs or alcohol.
In order to be efficient in its mission, the Fazenda has understood that the main concern is not to fight against drugs and alcohol, but is to help the victims to be holistically reconciled. The method used is a threefold therapeutic method based on an active spiritual life, community living and manual work. The three elements are logically drawn from the Franciscan spirituality and the Focolari movement. This threefold therapeutic methodology helps people to gain back their ability to live in society, to master their own emotions and to strengthen their relationship with Christ, even though no one is obliged to be or to become a Christian. It has been evaluated that 80% of those who went through the twelve months therapeutic programme in different Fazendas have recovered their dignity and are back to a normal life, always trying to live according to the Gospel recommendations.
Can you clarify the steps you have been through since your arrival at Fazenda da Esperança in Brazil?
Upon arrival, I was given three months of initiation into the threefold therapeutic methodology. In December 2012, I was blessed to follow the “Direct Approach to the Unconscious” (ADI) experience that helped me to recover from my loss of self-esteem. In January this year, I followed the session of initiation to the Focolari movement together with other members of the Fazenda. After it, from February, I have been asked to accompany two houses as spiritual director. Currently, I have 40 persons under my guidance. Besides helping as spiritual director, I also give some sessions of formation to those being prepared and trained as coordinators for different houses. By doing this, I am working also on my own problem.
Is your action limited to the two houses under your responsibility?
As I said, our Centre is encircled by few Christian communities belonging to a neighbouring parish. I help the Parish Priest on demand. It gives me an opportunity to put into practice my new knowledge. I happened to meet desperate families suffering from misbehaviour caused by drug or alcohol abuse. So far, I have managed to reconcile two families. This makes me believe that what I am gaining here will help me later in my ministry.
Has your prayer been transform because of Fazenda?
When I feel frightened, I pray the Lord to transform my fear into trust.
When I feel like suffering, I ask the Lord to transform my suffering into growth.
When I experience a disturbing silence, I ask the Lord to transform it into a time of adoration.
When I experience any crisis, I pray the Lord to transform it into maturity.
When tears drop from my eyes, I ask the Lord to transform them into prayers.
When I feel furious, I ask the Lord to transform this anger of mine into intimacy.
Whenever I feel depressed, I ask the Lord to transform my discouragement into faith.
When I experience solitude, I ask the Lord to transform it into contemplation.
Being conscious of my own dignity enables me to go ahead with confidence, strength and courage.
Positive attitudes in life, the desire to do well and helping others bring satisfaction in a constructive mind.
The time to be happy is now! The place where to experience happiness is where I am.
I am going through a new birth because of Fazenda de Esperança. I am asking the Lord to help me to see the colour of love in every living being. I want to feel the beauty of hope in every dawn. I aspire to always be able to decide about what is authentic, just and true.

What would be your last word at the end of the interview?

Once reconciled with oneself, everything else seems possible. It is like putting the Gospel into practice; loving your neighbour as yourself. In this regard, with his simplicity, our new Pope Francis is inspiring me greatly.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Interview with Pierre Lukusa

Congolese born at the very last day of 1974, Pierre Lukusa is a Missionary of Africa since his Oath on the 26th August 2005. Today, Father Lukusa is sharing his experience of life and his hope for the future.
Why did you go to Brazil?
Pierre LukusaI left my mission placement in Mozambique towards the end of 2011 for an anticipated home-leave in the DRCongo to find a way to treat my unbalanced drinking problem which was becoming alarming to myself and to the confreres. I was offered to go to Brazil for treatment at a rehabilitation centre for chemical dependents and alcoholics called “Fazenda d´Esperança”. It was founded by Father Hans Stapel, OFM, in collaboration with three lay persons; Nelson Giovanelli Rosendo, Iraci and Lucy. This organisation was officially recognised by the Pontifical Office of Laity after the visit of Pope Benedict XVI to the Fazenda on the 27th May 2007. I am here since August 2012 to deepen the program I started in February 2012 in Nairobi.
Was it easy to get a visa for Brazil?
No, it was not! I had to wait nearly a year to get it. This is why I was proposed to go to Nairobi to start the program. Our confrere Baptiste Mapunda helped me to get a place at the “Raphaelites Centre”. I went through a very intense therapeutic program whereby I learnt fascinating things about myself.
Can you share with us some of those discoveries?
Under the guidance of a personal counsellor, I understood that I was at an early stage with my problem. Actually, it was a very wise decision to seek for help. I was very open to my counsellor and honest with myself when it came to share about my childhood experiences and all my background to find out the cause of my misbehaviour.
It came clear to me that, since I lost my beloved mother when I was ten years old, I have been living unconsciously in a state of “loneliness” which I have been covering with a fake personality. I did not want to show that I was suffering from that loss. The social environment where I was brought up taught me that a man cannot weep for a loss. I had to hide it by all means.
This “loneliness” became a source of insecurity. In many other instances, I was feeling that nobody around me was sharing my interests. I was dying alone inside myself. I had to find a way out of this pain.
How would you summarise your inner self-awareness?
I am becoming an emotionally mature person. Loneliness is part of life, nothing catastrophic. The ones who groan, moan and wallow in self-pity will do the inappropriate thing, like drinking. Loneliness is painful, so is stomach-ache. Drinking may ease the pain but never eliminate it. I found myself in a situation whereby my alcoholism was not yet a “social-disease”. Through unconscious mechanisms, other people develop extra types of addiction to cope with their own frustrations.
How long do you plan to remain in Brazil?
It is already one year and a half since I left Mozambique. To be honest, I am not comfortable in moving from place to place. However, I believe that God is preparing me for something greater that will give sense to my mission. I was offered to stay another year in Fazenda da Esperança. I found it a bit long. But I also came to realise that I had to accept and take it as God´s providence for my good and that of the others. God loves me; He is offering me various opportunities to teach me about myself, to be stronger and serve Him better. Finally, I happily take it remembering the biblical statement I had chosen for my priestly ordination: “My grace is enough for you…” (2 Cor. 12: 9-10).
What is the general atmosphere of the Fazenda da Esperança?
The atmosphere is very conducive to regular personal reflections.
What would you say is the paradox of alcoholism?
Let us take an example. Drinking is a social act. The paradox is that the society that encourages drinking marginalises those who slips into alcoholism. This is how my drinking problem went underground.
Alcoholics suffer from rejection. More than the average individual, the alcoholic is naturally friendly and loving person. After a few drinks, he could be sociable, attentive, complimentary and talkative. His shyness would be overcome and he could relate more comfortably. Later, everyone´s hand is against him. The doors of employment or promotion are closed. His friends do not invite him around anymore. He may find the door of his own home or community closed. In his own eyes he becomes a man with no importance, a non-person consigned to oblivion, a prisoner in solitary confinement. This is another very common paradox.
What would be your recommendations?
When people think of an alcoholic, they refer to someone in his late stages of the disease: destitute, deadly ill, mentally confused, morally bankrupt and living only for alcohol. Yet, this deterioration began long before. In most cases it started years before any physical, psychological, spiritual or social damage become apparent.
Anyone who drinks alcoholic beverages is a potential candidate for alcoholism, for as long as he lives. A basic characteristic of alcoholism is that it is a progressive disease: it never gets better, only worse. However, since it can be treated, everybody, even non-drinkers, would be wise to know the signs and symptoms and at what stages they appear. This way they are better equipped to recognise it in themselves or in others. They become aware of how severe the problem is and how urgent it is at any stage of the disease (early, middle or late stage). The bottom line is that we should not delay seeking or providing help.
I am very happy with what I am going through. It was and still is an opportunity for growth. I am also grateful to my confreres who helped me to find a way out. May God bless you all!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.