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Monday, November 28, 2016

Rome and Prague





Rome and Prague
Thursday, November 17ht I travel from Brussels to Rome, where I stay until Tuesday morning. These are days of encounters, meetings, interviews.
But the main reason why I’m in Rome it’s because Saturday, November 19ht, there will be the Consistory, the celebration in which the Pope creates new Cardinals, among them there will be the Archbishop of Bangui, DieudonnĂ© Nzapalainga who is the first Cardinal of Central Africa Republic and this is, among others, a gift that Pope Francis offers to Central Africa, recognizing the great work of reconciliation and mediation that the Archbishop of Bangui has made in recent years. Thursday afternoon my meetings begin immediately. During these days are taking place the Assemblies of the FAO, of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and that of Agricultural Policies. This is an effort to involve skills and people, providing a help in the development of Central Africa.
Saturday morning I'm at St Peter's square. Large crowd, among which notably visible is the Delegation from Central Africa Republic, because of the yellow hats and, most of all, for the warmth of the songs and their vibrant participation. At 11am begins the Celebration. The new Cardinals represent many Countries of the world (Syria, Central Africa, USA, Spain, Bamgladesh, Malaysia, Albania ...). At that vision I feel and I see the powerful image of a Church so deeply involved in proclaiming Christ in the most difficult places of the planet.  After the celebration, the Central African delegation, on the higher level of the St.Peter's square, attracts the attention at their dances and songs. It’s the best way to communicate to others the great joy for this important gift of Pope Francis to Central Africa.
I meet as well with great joy, Sister Chiara, Sister Graziana and Sister Rosalie, of the Franciscan Missionaries of Fiesole which until 2015 they were in Bozoum. Sunday I move to Orte, to greet Maurizio Urbani, composer, who created http://www.bozoum.org/  site. Have a look at it and you’ll be surprised!  
Monday is a day dedicated mostly to the media. In the morning I’m at Vatican Radio: http://it.radiovaticana.va/news/2016/11/22/centrafrica,_p_gazzera_lonu_potrebbe_fare_meglio_e_di_pi%C3%B9/1273975 while in the afternoon I'm on TV2000, the TV show "The Diary of Pope Francis" :
Tuesday morning finally I travel towards Prague, where I find myself involved once more in meetings, interviews and reports about Central Africa.  Much of the work takes place, as well as with the Carmelite Fathers living in Prague (especially the tireless Fr. Anastasio) most of all with our friends, members of SIRIRI NGO, who are supporting in Central Africa a good number of services like  health and education projects. Last September they were in Bozoum training 130 teachers on the new methodology "Learning with fun - Apprendre en jouant". I have had as well the opportunity to meet the auxiliary bishop Vaclav Maly, who had been in Bozoum last year. l take the opportunity to visit few very fine schools where some of our friends teach. They are the ones who contributed a lot, with their experience, to improve the school in Central Africa.















Sunday, November 20, 2016

Europe - Central Africa




Europe - Central Africa
At present I did slow down my weekly blog’s updating but it didn't slow down my daily working.
Trying to have a bit of resting I have been able to meet many people who are interested in Bozoum and in Central Africa. Along with Paolo Silvestro we prepared the 2017 Calendar which will be ready very soon, enriched by a good number of beautiful pictures. 
Saturday, November 12th, I was with the Association "Friends for Central Africa" who organize an annual charity dinner for projects in Central Africa Republic. We began our cooperation since 2004, mostly in agriculture and health.
Monday 14th, I leave early from Cuneo, and at 6:30 am I’m on a flight towards Brussels. Here I find Marcela, member of the Association “Aid to the Church in Need”.  Here in Brussels Thursday, November 17th,   will take place a large "round table" centered on Central Africa, in which the Government will present to the International Community a program for the next five years, asking Governments and Organizations for funding the projects. The EU held a meeting in previous days just before our "round table" in order to remind the civil society and the various national and international NGOs how they could come together and express to the Government and the International Community about the needs and concerns of the Country. Attending to this meeting there were many Central Africans and representatives of the Country, including the Imam, a Pastor and the Archbishop of Bangui. Together they formed the platform of religious leaders, which contributed so much to "build up" the peace in Central Africa Republic. There were also members of the Government and even the President of Central Africa Republic. Together we have had much discussion on the actual situation and on what it should and could be done. And we hope and pray that all this work bear fruit!
At these very hours Fr. Enrico informed me that the contingent of ONU Peacekeepers, who was in Bozoum, has left the city. Unfortunately, people fear that the situation will get worse. We hope and pray!











Sunday, November 6, 2016

Italy




Italy
Here I am in Italy, where I'll stay for about ten days. These are busy days: meetings, programs and, hopefully, a bit of rest.
I arrived in Turin on October 26th , and after visiting my family, Saturday and Sunday 29th  and 30th of October I have been in Arenzano and Genoa for two important events: the Solemn Profession of vows and diaconate of two of our young Carmelites: Brothers Lorenzo and  Odilon. Brother Odilon is a Central African guy, and now he is ending his theological studies. He has been in Italy for some years. In a few months he will return to Central Africa beginning his pastoral work in his own Country.
Their Solemn Profession is the definitive commitment through the vows of Chastity, Poverty and Obedience. It is a very intense moment for our two young people, but also for our Discalced Carmelite Genoese Province.  It is also a highly significant moment of celebration and thanksgiving for the gift of vocations and for the gift of brotherhood. It's nice to get together, even if in many situations the distance is so great and not always it’s possible to meet everyone.  
In the following days I'll visit some friends, and in the coming weeks I will meet others...
It's always beautifully to find out much attention and love for Bozoum and deep interest about all that happens there.















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 AbbĂ© 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":