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Thursday, October 27, 2016

Beautiful church, even more beautiful the CHURCH

Beautiful church, even more beautiful the CHURCH
Last Sunday we went through a great moment: the inauguration of Bozoum church! About ten months of working and now the church is ready! And it is a wonder!
The new section, bright and airy, is full of light and colors. The form (on the sides of the altar there’re two semicircles of 10 meters each in radius) recalls the embrace of God, in the sacraments, in the Word, in prayer and in being one people.
 Two Central African artists (Charlemagne and Alexis) have enriched the presbytery of an original version of the Last Judgement. On one side the damned with no face (as a reminder that when we abandon God our being human get lost), on the other side the saints, with the face barely hinted, but bright. On both sides of the church there are the Apostles and the inscription "UNAM, SANCTAM, CATHOLICAM ET APOSTOLICAM" (One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic) which recall the great characteristics of our Church.
The 26 colorful stained glass windows are a hymn to the Light, reminding to all of us how our life, enlightened by God, becomes real life and a colorful one. In the middle there is the Cross, made with the metals found in the foundations of the old church, as a memorial for those who built it over 60 years ago. Those metals were a substitute of today steel rods, and were obtained by cutting the iron bins: poverty, simplicity and ability to find anyhow a solution.
We did work for months and not even an incident, despite the precariousness of resources. Indeed the protecting hand of God has not abandoned us for a moment!
Great work indeed, made possible thanks to the solidarity and faith of so many people from all over the world (with "Propaganda Fide" and the "Aid to the Church in Need" and so many other people), but also thanks to the hard work and the involvement of our Christians in Bozoum.
It was nice, in recent months, and even more last Sunday, to watch the pride and joy of having at the end such a beautiful church. We wanted it beautiful, because Beauty speaks of God: it is one of his names, and one of its manifestations! We wanted it beautiful, because every man and every woman deserves to live, pray and celebrate in a beautiful environment! We wanted it beautiful, because nothing is enough beautiful for God. And nothing neither enough beautiful for “the Man”!
Last Sunday we were really so many! Already one hour earlier the church was full! A great number of them: from the villages and from the city. Were present children, youth and adults, sick and healthy, moms and dads, poor, Ecclesiastical Movements, in one word: everybody came at the new church.
To mark the occasion, the Bishop (old man and sick) sent his Vicar General, the Abbé Mirek, who presided over the Mass. Came also the Secretary of the Apostolic Nunciature (currently there isn’t an Ambassador from the Vatican to the Central African Republic). There were also many Discalced Carmelite friars from all of our communities.
The celebration was wonderful: many songs, dances, but also much prayer! It lasted three hours. The Offertory alone requested 40 minutes! Everyone wanted to bring something for the church and for the poor! Beautiful church and even more beautiful “the Church”!
Monday morning at 4.30 am I leave towards Bouar, where I have to attend to some meetings. Sadly the situation there is still fragile. In the north area the Diocese there are thousands of refugees, while on that same day in Bangui there are protests against the UN Peacekeepers, which degenerate and, after a morning of gunfire and violence, there are at least five casualties.
Once more at 4.30 am on Tuesday I leave hoping to reach Bangui. Thanks God the situation has calmed down and we arrive without any further problems.
And now I'm on my way toward Italy for some rest ... and not only that!  
And here is the link to the special edition of the "Journal de Bozoum":

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Final touches

Final touches
Sunday we celebrated the feast of St. Teresa (our foundress) in one of the three chapels of Bozoum, the one dedicated to her. Monday we resumed work.
Much fear not to end up on time and all of us does its best: bricklayers decorators, painters, carpenters ... And we are getting ready! Electrical systems, audio and plumbing are functioning ... the coats and the paintings are done, even the floors, and the roof is finished. There will still be some adjustments, but right now everything seems to be OK.
In addition to the construction site, this week is also filled by the presence of so many Christians preparing themselves for the Inauguration Day. We wanted to transform this event in a moment of grace and reflection. We invited not only all Christians of Bozoum, but also those of the 37 villages in which we work. And nearly 350 people came to this "three days" (in French is called "Conférence") of prayer and reflection on Mercy, as well on the gift of the new church. Both Fr. Marcello and Fr. Maurice came from Bouar and Baoro, and are helping our community of faithful to reflect and pray.
Finally on Sunday ... great celebration!

Saturday, October 15, 2016


Last Friday I continued with my commitments in Bangui in view of the project of building a new Carmelite convent. While Enrico Massone was busy with bricks, with the purpose to carry out a particular kind of roof that we would like using in the new construction, together with the Provincial and the architect, Giovanni Grossi Bianchi, I go to visit the Archbishop of Bangui, Mons. Dieudonné Nzapalainga, a man of God who did so much for the peace in Central Africa Republic.
It is He who Pope Francis chose as Cardinal, as announced last Sunday. Great surprise! It is the first cardinal appointed in Central Africa Republic, and the first Central African Cardinal! We are so happy, and also somewhat proud! Really in the Church Central Africa has one of the top positions ... just as the Gospel teaches!
On Saturday, with Fr.Giustino, Fr.Davide Sollami and Giovanni Grossi Bianchi I'm back in Bozoum. We left at 5:30am, and at 12:30pm we are in Bozoum. I have just the time to show them the new church, and then I need to go to bed because malaria strikes again!
On Sundays I rest, while Fr.Enrico celebrates the Mass. The Provincial is very pleased of the new church ... almost a Cathedral!
On Wednesday we receive an important visit!  Italy's Ambassador to Cameroon and the Italian vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Mario Giro, come to visit us. We take a tour among the various schools the Savings Bank, the Orphans Centre and then ... I prepare pizza for everyone!
These days the work of the church is going on. We are making the floors, painting, preparing furniture and benches. A young artist, who I know since long ago, Charlemagne Laprang, is painting the saint apostles.
La grande Bellezza. The Great Beauty!

particolare di costruzione della volta a Bangui
détails de construction de la voute à Bangui

Il nuovo Cardinale di Bangui
Le Nouveau Cardinal de Bangui

L'Ambasciatrice ed il Vice Ministro in visita alla Scuola di Alfabetizzazione di Bozoum

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Festivity, work and big projects

Festivity, work and big projects
Sunday, October 2nd, we celebrated the feast of St. Michael, the patron saint of the parish. In the previous days we have "warmed the hearts" with the celebrations of the Eucharist and the Sacrament of penance.
And, finally, on Sunday we can return to the church for the celebrations after being absent for three Sundays in a row. Expectations are high, in order to get a view, at least in part, at the "new" church. The works continue quite quickly. On the same Sunday we celebrate a wedding and two baptisms. And the joy is at its fullness!
On Tuesday I'm back on the road toward Bangui, where I stay for a few days committed to a number of meetings and encounters. Arriving in Bangui, I am forced to avoid some neighborhoods, because in the morning an army colonel was killed. As a consequence there is much commotion. In the afternoon it’s easy to hear pretty close the gunfire, sometimes from heavy weapons. In the evening I welcome at the airport, Fr.Giustino, our provincial superior, Fr.Davide Sollami, our administrator for the missions, Fr.Enrico, the architect Giovanni Grossi Bianchi and Enrico Massone, long-time volunteer bricklayer. I'm here on a visit to submit and discuss a major project: the construction of a new convent here in Bangui.  
On Wednesday morning I go to the airport to receive Sr.Bensitta and Sr.Brice, Sisters in charge, in Africa, of the Indian Congregation of Sisters of Mother of Carmel (whom I visited in India last April). They’re here on a visit and, above all, to give a better shape to the idea of opening a Convent here in Bangui, at the Carmel. I greet them and immediately I go to town to attend, at least for few hours, at a meeting of Caritas. It is a very important one: is present at the meeting the president of Caritas International, with other people of Rome and Nairobi Agencies together with representatives of the Secours Catholique (the French Caritas) and CRS (Caritas USA). The goal is to reflect together in order to help the Central African Caritas to restart with courage and passion in serving the poor. In the afternoon I go back to the Carmel, and at 5.00pm we celebrate the first profession of vows by Br.Loic.
On Thursday we continue the discussion about the major project of a new monastery, which begins to take shape.
And just today, October 7, we celebrate 10 years of our presence here in Bangui.