AFRICA-MADAGASCARANGOLA: The feast of the founder in Luanda
The feast of St. Eugene de Mazenod was celebrated as the patronal feast of the parish center, Saint Eugene de Mazenod of Luanda, within the parish of Saint Andrew, served by the Oblates. This celebration was not held on May 21, which fell on a Friday, nor did it happen on the following Sunday, because it was Pentecost. It was only on June 11 that the Saint Eugene de Mazenod Center celebrated with joy and devotion its patronal feast.
On this occasion, the Oblates announced the beginning of the “De Mazenod Year” to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the death of their holy Founder.
With appreciation to the Oblates, the eleven year-old parish center celebrated the marvellous working of the Lord who permitted the birth of this community. It was an opportunity to trace the history of the center, emphasizing important moments of its existence. “The first Mass was celebrated under a tree. Today, the Fathers celebrate the Holy Eucharist in a church, even though it is still unfinished,” stated the commentator of the day’s liturgy. In retracing the progress of this community, we find reasons for thanksgiving, to paraphrase one of the organizers. Joy was written on every face, especially the elderly.
During the Mass, the MAMI members stood out, wearing t-shirts bearing the image of St. Eugene de Mazenod. In his homily, Father Emmanuel ISUNDALA sketched the figure of Saint Eugene de Mazenod and Oblate spirituality.
During the offertory procession, the Christians expressed their joy and generosity in providing gifts to the Oblate Fathers. And the MAMI could be seen in the offertory procession carrying images of St. Eugene de Mazenod.
Before the final blessing, one of those responsible for the liturgy read for the assembly the community’s history, showing how the center, on its way to becoming a parish, is the work of the Missionary Oblates. He praised the efforts of the pioneers, Fathers Jean-Claude NGOMA and Cyril Mpuki. He also cited the names of the early Christians who took part in the first two meetings and above all, he showed that the center’s name “Saint Eugene de Mazenod” was the choice of the first Christians who met with Father Jean-Claude Ngoma.
In conclusion, he thanked all the Missionary Oblates and expressed his desire to see that the work of building the church, initiated by Father Cyril Mpuki, be continued by one and all, especially because of the pastoral dedication of the Oblate Fathers who have worked there from the beginning .
After Mass, the celebration continued with dinner, dancing and games inside the center and the elementary school “Saint Eugene de Mazenod College,” which is under the patronage of our holy Founder.
It was as if to say that the little shoot planted in Provence had become a great and sturdy tree whose branches continue to grow. In Angola, our mission has just begun under the guidance of the Oblates’ Holy Founder in heaven and of the Blessed Mother Mary, patroness of our Congregation. (Guillaume MUTHUNDA, superior of the mission)
A section of the ruling party in Zambia, the Movement for Multi-Party Democracy (MMD), has threatened to beat up the Oblate Bishop of the Mongu Diocese of Zambia, Bishop Paul DUFFY.
On September 15, 2010, “The Post” newspaper, an independent tabloid, reported that, a Mr. Chiko Chibale, the MMD Copperbelt information secretary, has threatened to beat up Bishop Duffy. He said that he will mobilize the party’s crack squad to travel to Mongu to manhandle Bishop Paul Duffy if he continues to issue derogatory remarks against MMD and President Rupiah Banda. The threat to manhandle Bishop Duffy comes in the wake of a statement he made that the people of Western Province think it is time for change.
The statement made by Bishop Duffy has unsettled the ruling party which has accused the bishop of inciting anarchy in the country. MMD spokesperson, Dora Siliya, who is also the minister of education was quick to dismiss Bishop Paul’s assertion.
Bishop Duffy defended his statement saying that he based his it on what he has experienced while interacting with the people at the grassroots level. Bishop Duffy also questioned the government’s motive for borrowing huge sums of money which does not visibly translate into development in the country and in particular, in the Western Province of Zambia. Bishop Duffy has refused calls to apologize saying that he does not owe anybody an apology over his statement that the people of Western Province want change because what he said is what the people on the ground are saying.
Bishop Duffy has ministered in the Western Province since he came to Zambia in 1984. He is among the first group of Missionary Oblates who pioneered the setting up of the Oblate presence in Zambia. The Missionary Oblates are mostly present in the poorest districts of Western Province, namely, Lukulu, Mongu, Kalabo and recently Shangombo district. Bishop Duffy has spent most of his life as a missionary in Lukulu, Kalabo and Mongu.
As a priest, he has been in the forefront of advocating for the poor. While serving as priest and Bishop of Mongu Diocese, he facilitated the setting up of Oblate Radio Liseli, the Mongu Diocese Development Center, Home Based Care projects which reach out to the people living with HIV/AIDS and numerous other projects. He also administers three Catholic Schools: St. John’s and Holy Cross Secondary Schools in Mongu, and St. Columbus High School in Lukulu district (the only high school in the district), and a Teachers Training College, the only one in the Western Province. The diocese also manages Mangango hospital. (Oblate Information Office, Lusaka)
Just a few days before he was seriously injured in the tragic accident that took the life of Fr. Josef MATHUNI in Vienna, Fr. Mario LEON spoke with the members of the Catholic press in Vienna about the work of the Oblates in the Apostolic Prefecture of Western Sahara. He is now recovering from the accident and will recuperate in Spain, once he is able to travel.
In his interview, he pointed out the need for dialogue with Muslims in North Africa. The five countries of the North African Bishops’ Conference, CERNA (Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, and Mauritania), are populated by mainstream, moderate Muslims, and they have governments that accept certain partnerships with Catholic social initiatives. This is a good starting point for cooperation: for example, in working with the migrants from sub-Saharan countries who seek to reach Europe.
None of the CERNA countries is a democracy in a European sense, and there is no religious freedom in the Western sense. “They first have to develop their own democratic style,” stated Fr. Mario.
While evangelical Protestant Christians were subject to harassment, the Catholics have accepted the rules and do not practice proselytism. When Catholics are asked, they do give information about their beliefs, according Fr. Mario. If any Muslims want to be Christians, they would be informed that the road to that goal would be “very, very long.”
The focus of the Oblate ministry is primarily with the 300 Catholics in Western Sahara. All of them are foreigners, many of them employees of the UN mission.
Thirty-five years after the withdrawal of the Spaniards, the territory was annexed by Morocco. Its final status in international law is unclear. This makes the work of the Church very delicate since the Moroccan security apparatus carries out a more intensive surveillance here than in the northern heartland. The reason for that is because a few miles beyond the border, in the Algerian Tindouf, is the center of the armed liberation movement Polisario Front, which advocates the independence of Western Sahara.
The Apostolic Prefecture of “Sahara Occidental” was established in 1954. Based in L’Aayoune, there are three Oblates: two Spaniards and a Congolese. “We want to serve as a bridge to the people in their local cultures. We invest much time in this dialogue,” said Fr. Mario. “We must learn from each other, even though we Christians are very few.”