AFRICA-MADAGASCARFormation and apostolate at the pre-novitiate
Since the foundation of the Kenya mission, the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate in Kenya have been trying their best to respond to our missionary motto: "Evangelizare Pauperes misit me”. This encourages us in Kenya to receive young vocations in order to preach the Gospel message and Christian values to the poor and the most abandoned.
From the Meru postulancy to the Nairobi Oblate pre-novitiate, our Oblate formation provides candidates with time and opportunities for apostolic work so that the young brothers may understand the Oblate call to be in touch with the reality of the poor they minister to.
At our Oblate formation house in Nairobi there is also time for the apostolic work both within the community and outside the community… and this in addition to the time they spend at Tangaza Institute, studying philosophy. In the community, the pre-novices participate in the maintenance, manual work, liturgy, hospitality and community building activities. The pre-novices are active and hard working. They work in the garden, poultry and take care of the rabbits. We always get vegetables, maize, chicken and rabbit meat from our small farm. The 12 pre-novices also prepare the daily breakfasts and the Sunday meals.
Outside the pre-novitiate, our young men visit an orphanage on Sundays – the Nyumbani Children Home. They assist in teaching catechism, and they pray together with them. They are always accompanied by Oblates, Fr. Stephen MURIUNGI or Fr. Christopher. Fr Fidele MUNKIELE is ministering at the Langata women prison and the pre-novices are beginning to visit with him. When the academic year closes in May, the pre-novices spend two months in our parishes. Some go to Kionyo, where they get involved in small Christian communities, youth ministries, schools apostolate and Sunday services in the prayer houses. Others go to our new parish in Kisaju, just south of Nairobi. There they participate in various pastoral activities.
Our formation program is trying to connect the pre-novices to the pastoral realities, thus they can learn about Oblate way of ministering to the poor and to the community. (Fidele Munkiele in www.omilacombe.ca )
The Conference of Major Superiors of the Africa-Madagascar Region usually meets bi-annually. However, from April 4-8, there was an extraordinary session of the Conference in Windhoek (Namibia), in order to make regional preparations for the General Chapter and to thank God for the 200 years of the Oblate Congregation.
All of the Major Superiors and elected Chapter delegates were present, as well as Fr. Emmanuel MOSOEU, the General Councillor for the AMR and Fr. Marc DESSUREAULT, the General Treasurer.
The Provincial of Namibia, Fr. Lukas MOSEMEDI, welcomed the participants. Fr. Mosoeu reminded them of the central role that the Region plays in the life of the Universal Church and urged them to take their rightful place in giving the Congregation and the Church men who are afire with apostolic zeal for the salvation of souls, men ready to change the image and realities of the continent. Fr. Dessureault spoke on the state of the Congregation’s finances and how these affect the Region directly.
Fr. Charles NABWENJE (Zimbabwe), the acting president of the Region, presented a panoramic report on the state of the Region, bringing to light the different realities of each Oblate Unit on the continent.
The participants broke into linguistic groups to analyze the report of the President. Debate and questions followed. In the end, participants applauded the report because they felt it captured the true state of the Region. The participants also worked in sub-regional (language) groups to produce a consolidated report based on individual Unit reports. There was also a presentation on the preparations for the Chapter.
The Conference was briefed on various projects in the Region: the reunification process in South Africa (already in its final stage); the desire of the Oblates in Zambia to widen their horizon by taking on a mission in Malawi; the project of Cameroon and the CIPF to jointly consider an invitation to open a new mission in Congo Brazzaville; the preparation of the Mission of Nigeria to possibly become a Delegation in 2017.
The Conference also elected its leaders for the next two years. The new President of the Africa-Madagascar Region is Fr. Edouard DAGAVOUNANSOU, the Provincial of Cameroon; the Vice-President is Fr. Charles NABWENJE, Superior of the Mission of Zimbabwe. In his acceptance speech, Fr. Edouard reiterated the need to be united as a Region. He exhorted the whole Conference to never give up, despite the hardship experienced pastorally, financially, etc. He stressed hope which is an attitude of faith that outlives fear and reposes wholly in Christ, our future. (Fr. Emmanuel Youngten TEMSWANG, Secretary of the AMR)
Fr. Adriano TITONE, Procurator for the Foreign Missions of the Mediterranean Province, sends us an Easter letter. Here are some excerpts from his letter.
Fondest greetings to each of you, wishing you a heart filled with peace…
I am writing this letter in my few moments of free time during my visits to our missions in Senegal and Guinea Bissau….
I have arrived at the latest foundation in the south of Guinea Bissau: Cacine, where our three Oblates in a mission of first evangelization, Fathers Daniel ALIOU and Carlo ANDOLFI and scholastic Joseph SADIO, are the first steady presence of the Catholic Church. For the people of the place, it is something new which they are discovering day after day.
A Hungarian couple, serving as volunteers, told me how the townspeople are impressed at the singing of the psalms by the little community for their morning prayer.
I went with Fr. Daniel to Quitafine, a town some twenty kilometers from Cacine, where the missionaries have begun to visit a very special community: there are no baptized, but they already have regular meetings, thanks to a good-willed teacher in the area. We could define this teacher as a "Catholic sympathizer” who not only brings the children together for prayer, but together with others, has managed to get a little piece of land and has built a chapel of mud. Although heavy rains have literally dissolved the mud from one side of the chapel, this has not discouraged them and they continue to grow as a budding Christian community. The land is fertile; all they need to do is to sow generously and then cultivate the fruits which grace will provide for the good of all.
In all of these communities of Guinea Bissau and Senegal, they are still feeling the joy of the wonderful experience they lived on the occasion of the celebrations of the 200th anniversary of the Oblates’ founding.
In recent months a small relic of our Founder, St. Eugene de Mazenod, symbol of his "heart as big as the world”, has traveled through all the communities, including those already turned over to the pastoral care of the diocese, such as Djilas and Kaffrine, bringing together many people who thus expressed their affection and gratitude to the Oblates for their pastoral work in Senegal in the last 40 years. Then there was the great pilgrimage to the national shrine of Poponguine which gathered more than 2000 people and where various cultures expressed their joy at knowing and having a role in the endeavor of the Oblate Mission. Many, many claim to be proudly part of the Oblate Family. … (http://nosotrosomi.blogspot.it/)