of the Missionaries of Africa

- 130 YEARS AGO -


Bagamoyo: 17 May - ...........- Mwanza: 15 August - ;;;;;;;;;;;- Tabora: 13 September

3 Stories

1. The Journey of Love: No way back!? So with us?!

Thursday, 15 May 2008 will be remembered by many of us coming from Nairobi on pilgrimage in Bagamoyo. The bus from Nairobi took the 35 of us, sisters and brothers, and we arrived in Dar es Salaam, after 20 hours en route! That will be remembered!


On Friday, 16 May, about 100 of us gathered at Manzese to greet one another and to go through the weekend programme of celebrations. I say "chapeau" to the organisers. Imagine: We were encouraged to have a singing practice for our Kabylian Magnificat and our Sancta Maria! The brand new Hymn of the Caravan: 'Hip hip, hurrah' was an enormous success.

Saturday, 17 May, rung us out of bed at 5.00 am, so we could set off for Bagamoyo at 6.00 am. Different groups in 8 mini-buses and more cars moved from different corners of Dar to Bagamoyo; 3 choirs and Undugu members with Missionaries of Africa and the MSOLA, older and younger ones… Off for the celebrations! A beautiful day lay ahead of us: the weather, the road, the co-travellers and especially Bagamoyo itself. We all assembled at the cemetery where Holy Ghost Fathers and Sisters had been buried from 1868 onwards. They had been the welcoming guest-masters to our confreres and sisters in 1878 and later years at the shores of the Indian Ocean. In honour of all those first missionaries, we had the memorial stone blessed by Gerard Chabanon who had come from Rome for this occasion!

We had a power-point presentation about the MSOLA and the Missionaries of Africa and how the first caravans came from North Africa and Europe by boat via Suez, Zanzibar, and finally welcomed by the Holy Ghost Fathers and the Arabs who saw new traders coming in! It showed how the first caravans took to the road with their belongings so they could reach Tabora, where they split up: some went west to Lake Tanganyika and the Congo, while others went north to Lake Victoria and Uganda. What had been written about the porters, the chiefs, the Arabs and slave trade was presented in the power-point presentation. Most of the time, these missionaries were welcomed by the local population and were given by the chiefs a free pass for the next chiefdom. Sometimes a price had to be paid for being able to continue. We could hear also how much they prayed and how they dealt with some adventures.

Cardinal Polycarp Pengo presided at the Eucharist, assisted by his Auxiliary Bishop, Method Kilaini, and the Bishop of Morogoro, Telesphor Mkude, who welcomed each and every one into his Diocese. Gerard Chabanon gave the homily, where he stressed the actual needs in bringing about ecumenism, justice and peace on the continent; grateful to the first missionaries and now co-operating with the local Ordinaries of the Church. The 3 choirs made the Eucharist even more lively as they sang with the energy of the first Missionaries singing for the first time their Sancta Maria on African soil! The Bagamoyo Church is not the biggest one can think of, but we filled it to capacity, over 400 all told. At the close of the Eucharist we still had a nice, kind and lively address by the Cardinal; for sure a good friend of us. Thank you.

We had already received a bite at our arrival, now after the Eucharist we moved to the Spiritual Centre where a simple and tasty pilgrimage meal was served. We could sit inside or outside. The atmosphere and weather were very good. After a picture with our guests of honour, we went refreshed 'ufukweni', to the seashore:
"Remembering the arrival of the first missionary sisters, brothers and fathers at the shores of Bagamoyo". The small sailing boat carried 2 Sisters in their original long habits with scapular and heavy veil, and 3 Missionaries of Africa in gandourah with rosary. One of them was long-bearded! Some locals tried to carry them to the shore from the small boat; one touched the 'Holy Land' and kissed the beach, thanking God that they had made the journey and could head inland.

We, the young aspirants from Arusha and Nairobi were jubilant! We read loud and clear how the first caravan had come from Zanzibar and were met by Muslim Brothers and the Holy Ghost Fathers. You might think that this was the end! Not yet! We went in procession to the Church and gave thanks to God who had done great things, singing the Kabylian Magnificat in a full Church.

There and then, we followed the track our forefathers had taken on their mission: To reach the Ruvu River, to cross it and then head on to the interior. Meaning: No way back! Sent to this new mission, trusting in God's message. We all went in cars and minibuses towards the Ruvu. The police advised us not to go much further as parts of the road were under water. There we gathered, sang and prayed after a good walk of about one hour. Excellent! It brought back to us how our 'trailblazer brothers and sisters' had made their way into a still unknown continent. We called it a day by 5.00 P.M and drove back home.

Sunday, 18 May, Feast of the Holy Trinity about 40 of us went to 7 Parishes: Manzese, Tandale, Mburahati, Makuburi, Kibangu, St. Joseph Cathedral and Magomeni as we had prepared on Friday. We represented the three groups: Undugu (friends and relatives of our Tanzanian confreres), Missionaries of Africa and the MSOLA. We joined in one or two services and spoke of the Trinity Sunday feast and our missionary vocation to be there, during the services and afterwards in the parish halls. We hope that we can make more and better propaganda from now on, for our work started with the first missionaries of bringing God our Father through Christ closer to God's original Spirit. By 2.00 P.M., we were all back at Manzese Parish and had a nice meal. After this we sat together to share the good News of the weekend. We sang "Send me". The harvest is great, and send us labourers!!! That is our prayer.

Refreshed and grateful we went home. I can say in all honesty: "Well done good and faithful servants, you all who have gone before us". Thank you all, the Bagamoyo Caravan committee, the choirs and parishioners who welcomed us, Bagamoyo Parish itself and our Bishops present with all who turned up from far and near. God bless!

From Riny van Broekhoven M.Afr, Nairobi

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The Missionary Sisters of our Lady of Africa and the Missionaries of Africa had a pilgrimage to Bagamoyo, 67 km. north of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, to mark the arrival of the first Missionaries 130 years ago. We were accompanied by young people interested in joining us, students, novices, postulants, friends and families of the Missionaries of Africa (Undugu Association) in Tanzania and Kenya. We were also accompanied by many Christians and some religious congregations. This pilgrimage honored the First Caravan of missionaries who arrived 1878, later spreading to the whole of East Africa.

We started our pilgrimage early in the morning at the Bagamoyo cemetery where young missionaries of Africa were buried. It was so interesting and touching for me to visit the graveyard where our ancestors in faith, Spiritans and MAFR, first landed and even were buried. (One, Br. Amans, was subsequently transferred to Uganda.) I was more touched looking at their ages: for example, 25, 26 and 34. Such great and courageous missionaries ready to die for the African peoples!!!!!
What a great love they had for us!!!

After this, we had two power-point presentations on our origins (MSOLA and Missionaries of Africa) and what we are doing currently in our different apostolates. There was also a sharing of experiences and witness, by Sr. Columba and Fr. Munishi: how they came in contact with our congregations.

Then we had a Eucharistic celebration presided by Cardinal Pengo, Archbishop of Dar es Salaam, together with Bp. Mkude of Morogoro and Bp. Kilaini of Dar es Salaam, Gerard Chabanon and many priests. There were symbols to offer to the Lord in thanksgiving which came in the procession with singing and dancing. These symbols included: A photo of Cardinal Lavigerie, our founder; Mother Marie-Salome, the first Superior General (MSOLA) who passed on the love of Christ and our mission in Africa; and our Lady of Africa the patroness of both institutes. We also brought to the altar a map of Africa where we were founded and where our mission is; a lamp which symbolized the light of Christ and education; a walking stick, shoes and a hat which represented missionaries on the pilgrimage.

An interesting part of our pilgrimage was going to the landing site at the coast where the missionaries had arrived by boat. Srs. Maite and Jeanne, with Frs. Geoff and Yago, and stagiaire Fidelis, arrived in a boat, as the first missionaries traveled in those days. It was very nice to see what it really meant for the missionaries to arrive in Bagamoyo 130 years ago. They were dressed in our former habit as real 'White Sisters and White Fathers' of that time, and were received by the Spiritan Fathers and the people of Bagamoyo. This moved many people as they fell in tears of joy remembering how Christianity came by these missionaries, and others exclaimed with shouts of joyful ululations and singing.

I was very happy to have made this pilgrimage to this historical place and I feel strengthened in my faith and missionary life. As a missionary, I feel very grateful to the Lord for such a gift of faith that was passed on to us by daughters and sons of Cardinal Charles Lavigerie since their arrival to East Africa.

This commemoration of the arrival of Missionaries of Africa at Bagamoyo challenges us as missionaries today to think of how our faith came about, reminding us of our origins, looking at what we are now, and giving us more courage and faith to meet all our missionary challenges that lie ahead.

In general, this journey of love was marked by prayer, thanksgiving to the first missionaries whom we remembered on that day, joy, courage, trust and faith in one God, and more so strengthened our collaboration as brothers and sisters of one family of Lavigerie. Let's continue to move together in the Pilgrimage of Love for Africa.

From Harriet Kabaije Msola - Arusha

The 13th caravan (1894) which brought the first MSOLA to the shores of Bagamoyo was somehow in the 'womb' of the 1st caravan, the 'Mother' of many caravans! Likewise, the coming of the doctor-catechists like Dr. Adrian Atiman who came in the 7th caravan (1889).

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The Missionaries of Africa, Missionaries Sisters of Our Lady of Africa, Undugu Association members and Christians gathered from Tanzania and Kenya on 17 May to re-live the arrival of the Missionaries of Lavigerie in Tanzania. The memorable celebration began with a visit to the cemetery, where the M. Afr. Superior General, Fr. Gerard Chabanon, led the prayer. As Lavigerie encouraged the Bagamoyo missionaries to respond to God's call under any circumstances, even of martyrdom, Gerard admonished the M. Afr of today to stay focused on the mission of Christ both in good and in hard times.

The prayer in Bagamoyo cemetery was the starting point of another journey on 17 May 2008. The new journey took the pilgrims from the dead into the living as they were presented with a Power-Point explanation of the lives and journeys of the early missionaries of our venerable Father Lavigerie. This covered all the important details of their lives in the new places, including their table fellowship in which we pilgrims participated through a light breakfast. That remarkable light breakfast, shared by pilgrims from different continents, was a reminder of the fraternal fellowship and love the missionaries shared with the local Church.

The summit of the celebration began with a long procession led by the choral voices of Manzese, Tandale and Bagamoyo parishes, with a dance troupe comprising the Missionary Sons and Daughters of Lavigerie. The Eucharist was presided over by His Eminence Polycarp Cardinal Pengo of the Archdiocese of Dar-es-Salaam, assisted by Bishop Telesphor Mkude of Morogoro diocese and Bishop Method Kilaini of Dar es Salaam and about fifty priests.

The spiritual table fellowship flowed into the physical. A moment for interaction and cordial exchange, lunchtime was appreciated as an opportunity to recuperate energies in preparation for a trek to the landing site. The Bagamoyo shore of the Indian Ocean, is about half a kilometre from Bagamoyo Parish Church. To witness the landing event, the pilgrims moved in unison, while the boat, about one kilometre off shore, sailed gently and spiritedly towards the assembly that waited expectantly to embrace the Gospel. In the boat, were five Missionaries: Frs. Geoff Riddle (50 years now in Tanzania) and Yago Abeledo, stagiaire Fidelis Damana, Srs. Jeanne Boonen and Maite Sanz de Pablo. Their arrival was marked with an enthusiastic ovation signalling a renewed presence of the Good News, after which followed a trip to the Ruvu river where the early evangelisers, after having arrived safely in Zanzibar / Bagamoyo, set off on the second stage of their missionary journey.

Reliving the Bagamoyo experience was an opportunity for those present to recognize the roots of the Catholic Faith in Tanzania and East Africa. It was as well a trace into the historical presence, in East Africa, of the Missionaries of Africa and Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Africa. The mission of Christ continues.

From Emmanuel Uko,
Nairobi Formation

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Homily of Gerard Chabanon, Superior General - May 17, 2008
en Français, en Swahili
(the original text)

"The eleven disciples set out for Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had arranged to meet them." Today, we are here at Bagamoyo, on the shore of the Indian Ocean, where the first missionaries disembarked. Human beings require a recognized place where they can meet as brothers and sisters, build up relations among themselves and remember where they come from.

Today's Gospel, taken from the Gospel according to St Mathew, says of those disciples that "when they saw Jesus, they prostrated before him." They adored him - that was the start of their apostolate; and it is the beginning of all apostolate. It is said that, upon disembarking at Bagamoyo, the missionaries proceeded right away to the church, where they gave thanks to the Almighty. Remember that Pope John Paul II used to prostrate himself and kiss the ground the moment he came down the plane bringing him to a new land recognizing God's presence.

"Others had doubts". We read in the missionaries' diary: "What a sublime mission, yet how frightening! What responsibility is now bearing upon us". We can picture the first missionaries as heroes. And indeed, that's what they were. They had a lot to endure, they often were sick, many died still in their youth - yet they were human beings like us. Confronted with difficulties and things unknown to them, they experienced fear and doubt. Eminence, Revered Bishops, dear faithful, even the missionaries we are sending today are but human beings. Angels, we do not have! Yet, precisely because they are human, they can fulfil the directive of Cardinal Lavigerie and "make themselves everything to everyone", as St Paul himself did. That is, they can learn peoples' languages, understand their customs and their history, sympathize with them in their trials. Today's missionaries, like those of yesterday, must be close to people, listen to them and with them find the means of resolving their problems.

In the Theology of Mission, there is a teaching with which all missionaries agree: the importance of the circumstances particular to each place, each land, each ethnic group, the context in which they are sent. When those first missionaries reached Uganda, they had to take account of the circumstances of the Baganda, which were different from those of the people living along Lake Tanganyika. The means of announcing the Gospel in Dar es Salaam are different from those suited to Singida or Moshi. If our apostolate is not to consist of meaningless words and deeds, we have to learn and understand the circumstances, the context proper to the people with whom we live.

The disciples were sent to all nations without discrimination. This is something new compared to what he told them in Mathew 10:5-6 "Do not go into pagan territory or enter a Samaritan town." Now clearly he sends them to ALL NATIONS. Today, there are people of many nations right here in Bagamoyo, people who are here because the Gospel of Jesus reached them and they responded to its call. Yet evangelisation is not over. Today as in the past, we need missionaries to teach the commands of Jesus and to baptize people when they are ready.

In the years to come, missionaries will have to be more and more attentive to the very important issue of human rights, and look for means of defending those whose rights are denied. It is not enough to have big crowds in the church, if the defenceless fail to obtain their rights, or are counted as people of no value. "The glory of God is the person fully alive". The areas of misery, of injustice and of conflict are now privileged fields of the missionary apostolate. Let us not be afraid of moving forward in that direction, in communion with the leaders of the Church.

Another momentous field of apostolate for the missionaries of today and tomorrow is the one of inter-religious dialogue, together with improvement of our relations with their adherents. Followers of various religions are now to be found in all nations. Our two communities, Missionaries of Africa and Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Africa, were founded in Algeria, a historical fact that must never be forgotten. We know that religions can divide people and cause conflict and war. Our call, in that regard, strongly invites us to show interest in the faith of people who are not Catholics. Besides fostering encounter with them, we can also be agents of reconciliation in religious conflicts and guide everyone along the paths of unity and peace. That is a most urgent challenge, which forces us to first strengthen our own faith and to understand the faiths of others.

In the quoted passage of the Gospel of St Mathew, the final word of Jesus is: "And look, I am with you always, until the end of time". It is a word you have heard before: "Look! The virgin is with child, and will give birth to a son whom they will call Immanuel, a name which means "God is with us" (Mt 1,23). It is a word that marks the beginning and the end of the Gospel! Jesus is with us. But are we with him? In the Acts of the Apostles, we read that after the Ascension the apostles "went to the upper room where they were staying… and with one heart they all joined constantly in prayer" (Ac 1, 13-14). That is where they received the Holy Spirit, on the day of Pentecost, an event we celebrated last Sunday, in our churches. We need to retire again and again in the upper room of our hearts, and to pray, adoring the one to whom "all authority in heaven and on earth has been given". Outside (or far away) from that upper room, there cannot be any genuine apostolate. Amen.

(Translation from the Swahili by Marcel Boivin - The original text can be found below)

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1878 - BAGAMOYO - 1ST CARAVAN - 2008

Mahubiri ya Gerard Chabanon M.Afr.
(the original text)

"Wanafunzi kumi na mmoja walirudi Galilaya kwenye ule mlima aliowaagizia Yesu." Na sisi leo, tupo hapa Bagamoyo ufukweni mwa Bahari ya Hindi kama wamisionari wa kwanza. Binadamu huhitaji sehemu maalum kukutana kindugu kujenga mawasiliano kati yao na kukumbuka wanakotoka. Vilevile tunahitaji kukutana na Mungu wetu.

Injili ya leo, katika kitabu kilichoandikwa na Mtakatifu Matayo, yasema kuwa hao wanafunzi, mitume "walipomwona Yesu, wakamwabudu." Wakamwabudu - ni mwanzo wa utume wao, ni chanzo cha utume wowote. Inasemekana kuwa "baada ya kushuka Bagamoyo wamisionari waliandamana moja kwa moja kwenda kanisani kumshukuru Mungu." (Desturi ya Papa Yoane Paulo II kubusu ardhi ya nchi alipokuwa akitelemka kutoka ndege).

"Wengine walikuwa na mashaka." Twasoma katika shajara ya wamisionari: "Ni utume gani huu mkuu unaotuogofya! Majukumu gani sasa yanayotukabili!" Twaweza kuwatazama wamisionari wa kwanza kama mashujaa. Na kweli, ndivyo walivyokuwa. Waliteswa, wakaumwa, walikufa wengi bado vijana - lakini walikuwa binadamu kama sisi. Mbele ya matatizo au mbele ya mambo yasiyojulikana kwao, walikuwa na hofu na mashaka. Mwadhama Kardinali, Baba Maaskofu, Wakristu, hata wamisionari wa leo ambao tunawatuma, hata hao ni binadamu. Malaika sina! Lakini, kwa sababu hao ni binadamu, wanaweza kutekeleza agizo la Kardinali Lavigerie na, kama Mtakatifu Paulo, "kujifanya kila kitu kwa wote" - yaani, kujifunza lugha yao, kuelewa desturi, historia na shida zinazowasumbua - lazima wamisionari wa leo, kama wale wa zamani, wawe karibu na watu, wawasikilize ili, kwa pamoja, watafute mbinu za kutatulia shida zao.

Katika maendeleo ya teolojia ya utume, lipo jambo moja ambalo wamisionari wote hukubali: ni umuhimu wa mazingira wa pekee ya kila sehemu, kila nchi, kila kabila. Wale wamisionari wa kwanza waliofika Uganda, iliwabidi kufuata mazingira ya Baganda ambayo ilikuwa tofauti na ile ya watu walikokaa karibu na ziwa Tanganyika. Mbinu za kutangaza Injili hapa Dar es Salaam zatofautiana na zile zinazotumikiwa Singida au Moshi. Ili utume wetu usiwe maneno na matendo ya bandia, lazima tujifunze na tuelewe mazingira ya watu tunaoishi nao.

"Nendeni, basi. Mkawafanye watu wa mataifa yote wawe wanafunzi wangu, mkiwabatiza kwa jina la Baba,na la Mwana, na la Roho Mtakatifu. Wafundisheni kushika maagizo yote niliyowapeni."

Mataifa yote bila ubaguzi wowote. Katika Injili ya Matayo, ni agizo jipya, kwa kuwa katika sura ya kumi, Yesu alipowatuma mitume wake, akawaambia wazi: "Msiende kwa watu wa matiafa mengine wala musiingie katika mji wa Wasamaria; ila nendeni kwa watu wa Israeli walipotea kama kondoo." (Mt 10.5-6)

Leo, mataifa mengi yapo hapa Bagamoyo kwa sababu Injili ya Yesu imewafikia na wameitikia wito huu. Kazi hiyo haijaisha. Leo kama zamani, twahitaji wamisionari wa kufundisha maagizo ya Yesu na kuwabatiza walio tayari.

Katika miaka ijayo, utume wa ki-misionari utabidi kufikiria zaidi na zaidi swali kubwa linaliohusu haki za watu, kukutafuta mbinu za kuwatetea wale wanaonyimwa haki zao. Haitoshi kuwa na umati wa watu kanisani, kama watu hao hushindwa kupata haki zao na kuhesabiwa kama wasionacho. "Utukufu wa Mungu ni binadamu aliyesimama." Maeneo ya mahitaji, maeneo ya utengano na ugomvi, ndipo hasa maeneo ya ki-misionari. Pambano hilo ni gumu. Hata hivyo, tusiogope kusonga mbele tukishiriki na viongozi wa Kanisa.

Shamba lingine kubwa kwa wamisionari wa leo na wa kesho ni lile la majadiliano kati ya dini mbalimbali, na kukuza mawasiliano nao. Wafuasi wa dini hizo mbalimbali ni watu wa mataifa wa leo. Kama tulivyoimba, 'mashirika yetu yameasisiwa Algeria' - hatuwezi kusahau hilo. Twajua dini zaweza kutenganisha watu na kuleta ukorofi na vita. Tunao wito wa pekee hapa, kuwa wazi na kuonyesha 'interest' katika imani za watu wasio Wakatoliki. Zaidi ya hao wito wa kukuza mawasiliano, twaweza kuwa wasuluhishi katika ugomvi wa ki-dini na kutafuta pamoja njia za umoja na amani. Hiyo ni changamoto kali, inayotulazimisha kuimarisha imani yetu kwanza, na kuelewa imani za watu wengine.

Katika Injili hii ya Matayo, neno la mwisho wa Yesu ni: "Nami nipo pamoja nanyi siku zote; naam, mpaka mwisho wa nyakati."

Mmekwisha sikia hilo neno "Nipo pamoja nanyi" (Mt 1.23) "Bikira atachukua mimba, atamzaa mtoto wa kiume, naye ataitwa Emmanueli, maana 'Mungu yupo pamoja nasi'."

Mwanzo na mwisho wa Injili! Yesu yupo pamoja nasi,. Na sisi je! tuko pamoja naye ? Tunasoma katika kitabu cha Matendo ya Mitume, kuwa : "hao mitume walikuwa wamezoea kukusanyika na kusali katika chumba ghorofani." Ndimo walimopokea Roho Mtakatifu, siku ya Pentekoste, kama tulivyo- adhimisha jumapili iliyopita. Tunahitaji kuingia mara kwa mara katika 'chumba ghorofani' ya mioyo yetu kusali, kumwabudu yule "aliyepewa mamlaka yote mbinguni na duniani". Nje ya chumba hicho kitakatifu hakuna utume wowote. Amina.

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Homélie En français

Messe de la Pentecôte, 11 mai 2008

Le cierge pascal illumine l’Église, illumine l’Afrique. Le Christ ressuscité ouvre à la vie, à la victoire sur le mal. Avec les Apôtres, il est devenu source de justice, de paix et de réconciliation. La célébration d’aujourd’hui nous invite à renouveler notre engagement missionnaire là où nous sommes. Tournons-nous humblement vers lui et demandons-lui de nous libérer de nos peurs et d’accueillir sa miséricorde.

La fête de la Pentecôte, la fête de la venue de l’Esprit Saint décrite par Luc les Actes des Apôtres (la 1re lecture d’aujourd’hui), est résumée ainsi par Raymond Brown. « Durant la fête de pèlerinage qui a suivi la mort et la résurrection de Jésus, ses disciples galiléens et sa famille vinrent à Jérusalem et pendant qu’ils y résidaient, la présence de l’Esprit se manifesta de manière charismatique quand ils commencèrent à parler en langues. Cela fut pour eux le signe qu’ils devaient proclamer publiquement ce que Dieu avait fait en Jésus. »

Dans l’Ancien Testament, la fête de la Pentecôte, appelée fête des Semaines n’avait pas une grande signification théologique ou liturgique. C’était la commémoration du don de l’alliance à Israël faite au Sinaï. C’est peut-être pour cette raison que seuls « les juifs fervents » faisaient ce pèlerinage. Le livre des Actes va donner à cet événement une dimension nouvelle. Non seulement nous y voyons le renouvellement de l’alliance où Dieu appelle une fois de plus son peuple pour le faire sien mais il préfigure l’expansion missionnaire de l’Évangile qui fera finalement des « Gentils » le peuple de Dieu : « Sachez-le donc : c’est aux païens qu’a été envoyé ce salut de Dieu ; eux, ils écouteront. » C’est la dernière parole de Paul dans le livre des Actes (28,28).

Le renouvellement de l’Alliance est exprimé par les caractéristiques de la manifestation de Dieu au Sinaï en Exode 19 : « La montagne de Sinaï n’était que fumée, parce que le Seigneur y était descendu dans le feu ; sa fumée monta, comme la fumée d’une fournaise, et toute la montagne trembla, violemment. La voix du cor s’amplifia : Moïse parlait et Dieu lui répondait par la voix du tonnerre » (Ex 19,18-19). Les Actes parlent « d’un bruit pareil à celui d’un violent coup de vent… et une sorte de feu qui se partageait en langues. » Mais si ce sont uniquement les Israélites qui ont entendu l’invitation du Sinaï, à Jérusalem c’est un large éventail de peuples divers qui est témoin du travail de l’Esprit. La description qu’en fait Luc couvre à peu près l’ensemble de l’Empire Romain du temps du Christ : de Rome à la Syrie et de la Libye à la Mer Noire. Voilà le nouveau Peuple de Dieu auquel Pierre va s’adresser dans son premier discours.

Dans l’évangile de Jean, tout se passe le soir même de Pâques et tout nous parle de Pâques : Jésus est le Seigneur, présent au milieu de ses disciples mais d’une tout autre manière malgré le verrouillage des portes. « Jésus vint », voilà l’important et il sera là chaque fois que les disciples se réuniront comme il l’avait dit, il ne cessera d’être là au milieu des siens. Il « répand son souffle » dans la tradition du souffle créateur pour que le projet de Dieu qui est d’associer les hommes à l’élimination du mal et du péché puisse se réaliser.

Fête de la Pentecôte, fête de la mission universelle, fête de l’Église qui est missionnaire par nature. Fête bien sûr de toutes les congrégations et instituts missionnaires engagés dans l’annonce et le témoignage de l’Évangile aujourd’hui. S’il y a une expression qui est devenue incontournable pour la mission d’aujourd’hui et de demain, c’est celui de « contexte particulier ». Quelle est la situation politique, économique, sociale, religieuse du ou des groupes humains vers lesquels je suis envoyé ? Comment en est-on arrivé là ? Quelle pastorale mettre en œuvre ? Ces questions naissent d’un contexte, d’une réalité à laquelle le missionnaire est confronté. Et là se trouve son point de départ. Déjà les Instructions du Cardinal Lavigerie aux Missionnaires d’Afrique Équatoriale, ne manquaient pas de souligner l’importance de connaître le milieu, la langue et les coutumes. Jean-Claude Ceillier dans L’Histoire des Missionnaires d’Afrique en tire une conclusion intéressante sur la spiritualité missionnaire du fondateur : « Lavigerie expose avec des accents très personnels une authentique spiritualité missionnaire, à la fois enracinée dans l’Écriture et dans l’expérience de l’histoire, mais aussi avec le souci de rester très proche de la réalité que ses missionnaires vivent sur le terrain » (aux éditions Karthala, 2008, p. 142).

De cette approche contextuelle de la mission, se dessinent les contours de l’activité missionnaire engagée dans notre monde en ce troisième millénaire. Si les accents peuvent être plus ou moins marqués, si les moyens peuvent changer et si les priorités peuvent évoluer, il n’en reste pas moins que l’annonce de la Bonne Nouvelle devra tenir compte dans les années à venir de plus en plus des réalités culturelles pour véritablement toucher les cœurs des êtres humains ; les missionnaires devront s’engager pour une plus grande justice, faire leur la lutte contre les structures économiques injustes et les dégradations de l’environnement ; enfin l’Église se devra d’être présente dans les lieux de conflits, de divisions religieuses ou ethniques et être disponible pour un dialogue ouvert avec toutes les personnes qui ne partagent pas sa foi.

Plus que jamais l’œuvre missionnaire aura besoin d’un personnel bien formé intellectuellement. Elle aura aussi besoin aussi d’hommes et de femmes animés par l’Esprit de Jésus, l’Esprit de la Pentecôte. Alors, au milieu de leurs multiples engagements, ces missionnaires sauront trouver des temps suffisamment longs pour se retirer dans la chambre haute de leurs cœurs, pour méditer la parole de Dieu et y contempler sa présence. Hors de ce sanctuaire intérieur, pas de mission.

Gérard Chabanon
Supérieur général

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Others have spoken in appreciation of the CARAVAN COMMITTEE which worked on this project
over the past year, so let us acknowledge who they were!
Don Anderson, Piet van der Pas, Marcel Boivin, Deo Ngowi, Magloire Bamali, Adelarde Munishi, Alexus Mutasingwa, Bartho Bazemo, Francoise and Gosia MSOLA, Benjamin Komba, Edeltruda Muhozya and Teddy Ringo (of Undugu).
Vic Missiaen, Frank Nolan, Martin van de Ven, William Crombie, Jurgen Pelz, Yago Abeledo and Pd. Mugisha (PP of Bagamoyo).

- The First Caravan booklets: Trailblazers for Christ and its Swahili translation Watangulizi wa Bwana were composed by Vic Missiaen and Piet van der Pas.
- Frank Nolan's book Mission to the Great Lakes 1878-1978 were translated into Kiswahili by Martin Mandalu, Piet van der Pas and Teddy Ringo: Mitume wa Bwana katika Maziwa Makuu.
- Jurgen (also known as George) Pelz wrote an updated life of Katekista na Daktari Adrian Atiman.

Many thanks to all, beyond words! Many thanks to all the confreres and sisters giving encouragement and support along the way! Without that, we might have flipped and flopped!


The new Bishop of Kigoma Diocese, Bp. Protase Rugambwa: "On this occasion of the celebration of 130 years since the first caravan of Missionaries of Africa in East Africa in 1878, I wish to join with all of you in thanksgiving for the great things the Lord has done for and through your Society. In a special way, I express my deep gratitude to all the Missionaries of Africa who have worked hard to evangelise this part of Africa, and are still committed to this noble missionary activity. In view of the forthcoming celebrations, we will see to it that the faithful are informed of this big event and, hopefully, various initiatives will be taken to provide the opportunity to celebrate this important event in the history of the Church in Tanzania."

The Bishop of Zanzibar, Bp. Augustine Ndeliakyama Shao CSSp, wrote to say: "As much as I would like to be spiritually and physically present in this great historical event, I'm sorry that I will not be physically present, but I promise to be with you spiritually while delegating my Vicar General, Fr. Ambrose Mkenda, to be a witness of our support to you all. Once again, thank you for what you are in the Church of Christ." (The Spiritans of Zanzibar welcomed our confreres of several caravans, and set them on their way to Bagamoyo).

The Bishop of Dodoma, Bp. Thaddaeus Ruwa'ichi OFMCap, had hoped to be with us but, as Chairman of the TEC, was taken up in affairs elsewhere. "I wish you God's blessings as you look back, reflect and brace yourselves to keep the ever vital evangelizing mission going."
(The first missionary, Fr. Pascal, died and was buried and was buried in the Dodoma area.)

FRANCIS BOMANSAAN (Ghana-Nigeria Provincial, formerly in TZ): "Hongera kwa ukumbukumbu huo. Nitakuwa nanyi nyote katika sala na mawazo yangu. Uadhimisho na sherehe hii zitutie sisi sote changamoto katika utume wetu." (your Swahili stays fresh and we hope you will come back here after your mandate in the west!)

Florence, MSOLA - SMS: Thank you again for giving us this opportunity. It has been a faith-renewal experience for me. I feel filled with new strength in my missionary vocation. Thank you.

BAPTISTE MAPUNDA spoke from his session-retreat in Jerusalem: Napenda kutoa salamu na baraka zangu toka hapa kwa sikukuu ya kufika kwa Injili katika nchi yetu kwa njia ya Shirika la Wamisionari wa Afrika. Hapa, tumeombea tukio hilo jana katika Misa na leo tena: Mungu aibariki hiyo siku ili iwe changamoto katika Kanisa la Tanzania, hasa kwa familia za Undugu na zingine za kimisionari; na vijana wetu wavutwe na wito wa Umisionari katika shirika letu. Sasa ni zamu ya vijana wa Tanzania, Kenya, Sudan na Afrika nzima kujitoa kwa kazi ya Yesu. Tunawashukuru wamisionari wa kwanza ambao leo tunawakumbuka, mbegu waliyopanda ienee Tanzania.

QUINBERT KINUNDA (Rome) As the day of commemoration of the first Caravan arriving in Tanzania gets nearer and nearer, I greet and wish all of you working in the Province T-K-S, a fruitful moment of 'renewing our spiritual and missionary zeal'. Perhaps it sounds better if I borrow the words of G. Riddle, an opportunity of "Recharging our batteries", going back to the roots and to proceed according to the demands and challenges of today's missionary field. It must be fascinating to celebrate the 130 years at the place where our confreres were received and, from there, missionary strategies were drawn to reach the remote inhabitants. I join you in prayers to remember our heroes, let us get united and be inspired by the fire of their courage.

1878-2008 / 1878-2008 / 1878-2008 / 1878-2008

On the very same day, 17 May, 2008
heading for Bagamoyo and Tanzania
was ordained in Kerala, India….
at Little Flower Church, Memury P.O.
Kottayam Dt. - Kerala State. INDIA

Hongera na Karibu kaka!
Binu Jose Palaparambil, M.Afr. (India)

It was Archbishop Mathew Moolakkatt of Kottayam who ordained Fr.Binu Jose Palapparambil. Our fourth Indian priest. By bus and train, staff and most of the SOLA students journeyed to Memury parish in the green hills of Kottayam district in Kerala to be present. Also most of the stagiaires on holidays, Frs. Piet Kramer and Martin Grenier and Mr. Taji and Mr. Roy, our driver and cook came to the feast. Our confrere, Fr. Paul Hannon also had come all the way from Nairobi, Kenya, to represent the formation community where Fr. Binu had lived and studied for the last few years and also his future province Tanzania/Kenya/Sudan.

There we were around and in a colourful church on top of a green hill, the houses of the village hidden in the rubber plantations, between the coconut palms and downhill the sprouting rice paddies. It was a beautiful ceremony. Like most of our Kerala students Fr. Binu belongs to the ancient Syro-Malabar Church of the Christians who received the faith from St. Thomas the Apostle and to a special section within it, the Knanite Christian community. It is always impressive to assist at the Qurbana, the Eucharistic celebration in the Syrian rite. The whole congregation joins in the singing together with their priests. But for this ordination-ceremony professional liturgical singers had been brought in and sang it beautifully.

Special honour was given to Fr. Binu's parents. They were introduced to the archbishop when he arrived, and accompanied their son in the procession to the church carrying the vestments. There they presented him for ordination, had seats of honour and brought in the offerings. Fr. Binu's father has been sacristan in the parish for over 40 years. After the ceremony Fr. Binu baptised his sister's child.

Meanwhile good food was scooped out of huge pots to feed the whole congregation, and people sat around in the sunshine enjoying the company. Who will be the fifth Indian Missionary of Africa? In August, Leo Lawrence will be ordained a deacon in Nairobi.

Photos & texts from Don Anderson. M.Afr Thanks

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En Français lire dans "Voix d'Afrique" le numéro 74 , le numéro 76 , le numéro77

Voir aussi dans nos archives sur le site en Français
See also in our archives on our website In English