AFRICA-MADAGASCARA growing Church
Fr. Celso CORBIOLI sends his annual Easter greetings from his mission in Guinea Bissau.
Looking at my journal, I see that the last letter I managed to write was sent a year ago. Time really does pass quickly! In the time since then, precisely on 12 April 2012, there was a coup d’état that led to the removal of the President of the Republic, the Prime Minister and the whole government. At the end of the letter, I wrote that there was hope that there would be some rapprochement between the army that were behind this coup and the politicians. Something has been done: a provisional government was formed, a temporary President was nominated and there was the promise of elections etc. However, much remains to be done. The ex-President and the ex-Prime Minister are still in exile, and no one knows when they might return; nor do we know when the elections will take place. The country is not rated highly at an international level, not only because of the various real or imaginary coups that have occurred (in nine years I have seen 7 Presidents already, including the temporary ones), but also because of the implications of the drug trafficking from Columbia that passes through Guinea. The country really does need help from the international community to escape from this situation.
Apart from all
this, I must say however that life goes ahead in a normal way with a kind of
peace. The Church in general is well thought of and we do not have any grave
As I wrote last
year, the Bishop of Bissau, Bishop José Camnate, asked us to look after a big
parish which includes a large section of the city and many suburbs. The
district of this parish is called Antula. More and more people arrive and as a
result, there are more and more dwelling places. We have a large number of pre-catechumens
and catechumens, more than 2,500. There are 120 catechists; there are more than
thirty small communities; there are twenty or so groups and I could go on.... If
you stopped to think you might take fright, but we know the Holy Spirit is
leading his Church. Thanks be to God, we are in four in the community: Fr.
Giancarlo TODESCO, Fr. Georges NDOUR and myself, and one student preparing for
ordination, Brother Simon Peter BADJI. Two Congregations of nuns are also
present in the parish: the Hospital Sisters of St. Francis, who do great work
pastorally and in teaching, and the Oblates of the Sacred Heart, who look after
the Diocesan Spiritual Centre of N’Dame.
In this Year of Faith, we went on pilgrimage from Antula to N’Dame. It is only six kilometres away but under a baking hot sun, it can be a good penance. Many people came; we divided the people into four large groups, with about a distance of 300 metres between them. The people whom we met by their homes, or along the way, watched us sympathetically. Apart from being a spiritual experience, it was a way of witnessing to our faith and a means of evangelisation.
On Holy Saturday night we had the joy of baptising 85 adults; there were lots of people present. At the end of the liturgy (which lasted more than three hours), all the streets were full of the crowds. It was truly a “happy and holy night” as Fr. Giancarlo sang in the Exultet of Easter. In June we will baptise a hundred of so young people.
Apart from the spiritual Church we have to deal with the material one, which doesn’t exist yet. We have the biggest liturgical celebrations in the open air. We have a plan to build a church and soon we will begin the work; Antonio Fortunato, an engineer from Foggia, Italy, designed it. Despite the good will and hard work of our people we don’t have enough money for it. Every bit of help would be welcome. For now I send you all my good wishes and hoping you enjoy the best of health and everything that is good. May the risen Christ always be our light and our strength.
What was meant to be a pilgrimage for one Johannesburg parish turned into an unexpected Oblate reunion as four groups ended up at Ngome on the same weekend.
Pilgrimage leader Sandi Ngcongo of St Anne’s parish in Belgravia, Johannesburg, said she had not planned the pilgrimage with any other parishes. “It was a coincidence that all the other parishes met at Ngome and were being led by Oblate priests!”
The Marian shrine (www.ngome.co.za) in the diocese of Eshowe is a popular pilgrimage destination for South Africans. “The pilgrimage was arranged forthe parishioners’ spiritual growth and revival of prayerfulness,” said Ms Ngcongo.
of the St Anne’s pilgrims had travelled to Ngome in 2012 and wanted to return “to
thank Our Lady for the intentions that have come true and believe that it was
through their intentions placed at Ngome”.
Ms Ngcongo had arranged the pilgrimage for 29 people led by Fr Ron HOURELD, but was surprised when they met with a group from Durban led by Fr Donovan WHEATLEY, and a vigil group from Pietermaritzburg led by Fr Vusumuzi PENYANE.
The groups met with the shrine’s resident priests Frs. Wayne WELDSCHIDT, Nkululeko MEYIWA and Andrew KNOTT.
Ms Ngcongo said it was an “unexpected” and “exciting surprise” for the Oblate-led pilgrims. She said it made the pilgrimage even “more special” than they had expected. “Ngome has grown to be a special place of prayer, a message from Our Lady which challenges pilgrims to be tabernacles as she asked to be called Tabernacle of the Most High.
“Travelling to Ngome shuts a person off from the busy schedules of the city. This is a weekend where people concentrate on their spiritual journey and some make certain promises from the benefits of the journey.”
Ms Ngcongo said the St Anne’s pilgrims have already asked to return next year. (By Claire Mathieson in The Southern Cross ,24- 30 April 2013)