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Thursday, May 25, 2023

Confirmations in and around Baoro


Confirmations in and around Baoro

Sunday, May 28, is the great feast of Pentecost: 50 days after Easter we commemorate the gift of the Holy Spirit.

In recent days we too have had our Pentecost, with the celebration of the sacrament of Confirmation in the villages of Dobere and Igwe, and here in Baoro.

Last Friday, May 19, I went to Bayanga Didi for the Confirmation exams. The area is a little quieter: Yoro's school is open, as is Bayanga Didi's nursery school.

In the evening I returned to Baoro, where I found the bishop, Mirek Gucwa, who had come from Bouar and will stay with us over the next few days.

Saturday morning I left a little early for Dobere, the 50 km on the road to Bangui. Here we have the 48 confirmands from the villages of: Mbormo, Bawi, Balembe and Dobere.

While I finished with the confessions, the Bishop arrived, he met with the confirmandi, and explained and deepened the gift of the Holy Spirit and the sacrament of Confirmation for them. Around 10 we began Mass: the women of the village prepared a carpet, made with local fabrics: a real walkway that speaks of the pride of being able to welcome the Bishop and the celebration.

We finished Mass around 1pm. We had a bite to eat, and then we returned to Baoro.

Here on Sundays Confirmations are celebrated for the city and for the nearest villages. There are 68, including boys, girls, young people and adults. Many wear red, the liturgical color of Pentecost.

I left for Igwe on Monday morning. Even though it is only 60 km of road, it takes almost 2 hours. The village is very small (about a dozen houses). The catechist recently returned from school, and we chose to celebrate here to give courage to the small community. In the village, the new well that we had built for the community has been working for a few days.

The 31 confirmands from the villages of Bayanga Didi, Yoro and Samba Bougoulou gathered here.

While I was confessing, the bishop arrived with the altar boys, and after the meeting with the confirmands, we began Mass in the straw chapel. It was all very simple, but the power of the Holy Spirit doesn't frighten, quite the opposite actually!

The people of Igwe are happy with this celebration. At the Offertory they even brought a goat, as a gift for the Bishop!




Thursday, May 18, 2023

Catechists and various items



 Catechists and various items

Last Thursday, May 4th, we concluded the year of formation for the catechists here in Baoro. We had about 15 families, coming from all over the diocese, who have lived, worked, prayed and studied together during these past few months, and today they received the mandate from the Bishop.

The following day, Friday, I went down to Bangui to visit and meet with the construction site of the new convent. In the evening Jana and Ludmila from the NGO SIRIRI.OPS arrived from Prague to visit the many projects they support, and in particular the schools that work with the "Learning by playing" method.

Early Saturday morning I got up with them to go to Baoro, where we arrived by noon.

These days I accompanied Ludmila and Jana on visits to the various schools. The "Learning by playing" method was created by them, in collaboration with Central African teachers, and allows children to learn by reasoning, reflecting and collaborating. In the elementary grades there is also the great novelty of teaching in the mother tongue, Sango.

On Tuesday afternoon I accompanied one of the catechists who had completed a year of formation in Bocaranga. He and his wife and 6 children returned to the village, Igwe (60 km in the middle of the forest). The arrival in Igwe, after two and a half hours by car, was a feast for everyone!

On Wednesday morning we began a day of training on the water pumps for our students from the Mechanical School: this will allow them to be able to repair the manual pumps that are found in many villages in the country.

On Wednesday afternoon I left for Bozoum, to accompany Jana and Ludmila, who will stay there for the next few days. I also visited the community.  It has been exactly 3 months since Fr. Norberto's car exploded as it drove over a mine.













Scuola meccanica di Baoro: riparazione delle pompe
Ecole mécanique de Baoro: formation pour la réparation des pompes





Inizio lavori per la scuola di Bawi
Démarrage des travaux pour l'école de Bawi




Thursday, May 4, 2023

Small streets, sideways trees, a snake, some rebels and many mangoes



Small streets, sideways trees, a snake, some rebels and many mangoes

I also made the first of May a celebration! My goal was to reach the most distant villages (Yoro, Sinaforo and Bayanga Didi).

I left on Friday afternoon, 28th April, and returned on Monday evening, the 1st of May.

The streets are what they are, and, especially in this rainy season, it often happens to find a tree sideways. Luckily I always have an ax in the car, so I can cut a few of the branches and still get through.

Upon my arrival in Yoro, 75 km from Baoro (and 2 and a half hours by road), I met the catechist, the counselors, and many children. We are also in mango season, and for children (but not only them), it is a non-stop party.

Unfortunately, here in Yoro, the number of pupils in the school has decreased, because parents are afraid of the rebels, who roam nearby. On Sunday, during Mass, I tried to encourage the parents, and above all to make them think about and hopefully convince them to send the children back to school.

Saturday morning it rained. I delayed my departure until 9.30, and I set off on foot towards Sinaforo, a small village 7 km from Yoro. The road has now become a little path, full of vegetation, lots of butterflies and even snakes. I happened to come across one of them, but luckily he was more afraid of me and left quickly.

In Sinaforo I celebrated Mass, in the ramshackle of a chapel. But we had many children and many young people, thank God.

I returned to Yoro in the early afternoon, and in the evening I showed a film, to the delight of children and adults.

On Sunday I celebrated Mass in Yoro. There were many people for confessions, which took me for over 2 hours, and Mass, as always, was very lively.

In the afternoon I left for Bayanga Didi, where I spent the night.

While I prepared the viewing of the film, they called me saying that a "military" person wanted to see me. I went, and was not surprised to find one of the rebel leaders. Of course, he's a "general"(!?!?), and just wanted to see if it was the Father who came, or Wagner's Russian mercenaries. We chatted a bit, and I took the opportunity to discuss with him their presence in the area, and especially the schools. He told me they're not interested in making people lives more difficult. Let's hope so!

The next day, May the 1st, I celebrated Mass at Bayanga Didi: it was an opportunity to pray and reflect together on the grace of work.

Around 2 pm I set out on my way back, under a beautiful rain.



Bayanga Didi



Thursday, April 27, 2023

Ordinary Ministry



Ordinary Ministry

Back in Central Africa, life resumes with all things, big and small.

On Saturday, April 22nd, in the afternoon, I celebrated Mass in Zoungbe, a very small village 38 km from Baoro.

On Sunday I was in Dobere, a very large village. In a few weeks we will be celebrating Confirmations, and therefore we are preparing the boys, girls and adults for this sacrament.

After Mass, at around 1 pm I left for Bangui, where the construction site of our new convent awaited me.

Monday morning was occupied with reviewing the various jobs that were completed, we had the carpenters take measurements for the door and window frames, which we will be manufacturing in our Baoro carpentry shop.

On Tuesday morning I returned to Baoro.

Here the school of catechists is drawing to a close: 15 families from all over the diocese have been studying and forming since November, to soon return to the Christian communities for which they are responsible.

Le donne della scuola dei catechisti
Les femmes de l'école des catéchistes











Il cantiere di Bangui
le chantier de Bangui