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Monday, December 28, 2015

Christmas 2015

Christmas 2015
This week, leading up to Christmas, is very busy. Fortunately, not of races to buy the last gifts, no lights or anything, but of events more significant!
Sunday, December 20th we opened the Jubilee here in our parish. Preceded by two days of preparation, with catechesis and many confessions, the Sunday turned to be a solemn one. Large crowd gather in front of the church, and at 8:30 we bless the Holy Door and open it up. Men, women, youth, children go through this sign of Grace and Mercy of God.
On Tuesday I leave Bozoum to accompany Alessio, Paolo and Stefano to Bangui. They have to go back to Italy. After 400 km we arrive to the capital. The afternoon we keep busy in in meetings and going around for errands. The next day I begin my return home going through the “km 5”, a predominantly Muslim neighborhood, the scene of clashes and tensions. Compared to a few months ago, the destroyed houses have grown in number, and the desolation is remarkable. I see very few people, no cars. In front of the Central Mosque, which Pope Francis visited on November 30, I stop to buy bread. To the young muslim who sells it to me I ask how is the situation. And with bright eyes he tells me that, after the Pope's visit, it is much better.
Back in Bozoum I deal with the final preparations for Christmas. I listen to confessions, I work around some cribs, and then I keep busy with few stuff for Christmas meal (panettone, lasagna, etc. everything very handy).
Thursday night we anticipate midnight Mass at 6.00 pm. plenty of kids and so many people. Echo in my heart the words of St. Augustine: "Having an only Son, God made him son of man, and so vice versa made son of the man a child of God.
Look for the merit, the cause, the justice of this, and see if you find anything other than divine gift. "
Merry Christmas

Presepe al Camel di Bangui
Crèche du Carmel à Bangui

Presepe al Camel di Bangui
Crèche du Carmel à Bangui

Presepe al Camel di Bangui
Crèche du Carmel à Bangui

Auguri da Gauthier
Joyeux Noel de la part de Gauthier

Monday, December 14, 2015

After, dopo, après, post….

After, dopo, après, post….
After the Pope’s visit I thought to keep myself silent for a while. One reason was to give a bit of rest to the translators for the different languages of my blog (Martin, Terezie and Ludmila into Czech, Regina into German, Fr. Raffaele into English, and Fr. Juan into Spanish), and partly to allow to the great event lived in Central African Republic to settle a bit.  For these reasons we've prepared a special issue of the "Journal de Bozoum" with a chronicle of the visit with the speeches that the Pope gave in Bangui. This special edition went sold out pretty soon, and I needed to reprint it, translated into Italian too. Tuesday December 1, our friends of SIRIRI Association of Prague arrived in Bangui: the auxiliary bishop of Prague, Vaclav Maly, together with Karol (architect) and Ludmila. On Wednesday we work with Karol in view of a new monastery we intend to build in Bangui. On Thursday we leave at 5.30am toward Bozoum, where we arrived around noon. Here the work to extend our church continues, thanks to Alexis, Paul and our masons. Our friends of Prague go visiting the Mission, particularly some of the initiatives supported by their Association in the fields of education and health. On Sunday, December 6, Mass celebration at 8.30. The auxiliary bishop of Prague concelebrates (given the difficulty of the language) and before greeting with few words the congregation expressing his gratitude for participating in the beautiful celebration of the Eucharist, he donated us the statues of the Infant Jesus of Prague, statues that every Sunday are entrusted to different families. On Monday we travel making a stop in Baoro to greet our Mission, where the Association SIRIRI supports the Mechanics School. Soon after lunch we leave towards Bangui, where we arrive in the evening. I returned the next morning in Bozoum. On Wednesday I gather with the Parish Council to discuss the Jubilee Year of Mercy opened in Bangui on November 29, and in Rome on December 8. Friday I have on my schedule the first preparatory meeting for the Agricultural Fair 2016, which we hope to organize for January 23 and 24. The Agricultural Fair is a unique opportunity for farmers in the region to display and sell their agricultural products. It is a unique opportunity for the city of Bozoum to live a moment of peace and development.
And, even with a little delay ... some video of the Pope's visit.
The first is the opening of the Holy Door:
The second, the Pope's arrival in the stadium in Bangui:
Here’s a reportage in French on refugees in our convent of Carmel in Bangui:

Paolo al volante, il geometra Stefano alla pala, e il capo cantiere Alessio alla sigaretta

Marina (Cuneo) in visita nella nostra scuola

Riunione con le famiglie musulmane rimaste a Bozoum
réunion avec les familles musulmanes restées à Bozoum

Il vescovo ausiliare di Praga consegna le statue di Gesù Bambino
L'eveque auxiliaire de Prague remet les statues de l'Enfant Jésus

Visita alle risaie di Bozoum
visite au Centre Rizicole de Bozoum

Ecole Mécanique de Baoro

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

The Pope's visit to Central African Republic.3


The Pope's visit to Central African Republic.3
Today is the day in which the Pope, after visiting the Central Mosque (in the most dangerous area of the city) will celebrate Mass in the Stadium. Wake up at dawn, morning prayers at 5.00am, a little breakfast and 6.00am departure from Carmel. Many people greet us in the streets, happy for this great visit and happy because we take part to this event. After leaving the cars in those communities, we move, through the districts, to the Stadium. Here the entrance is a bit chaotic, but we can manage to enter. Priests and religious are down on the lawn. In front of us the altar, and in the front row the sick and handicapped. Now are entering Ambassadors, Ministers and the President. Then we can hear a sudden loud screaming. I think it's because of the Pope arrival. Instead it is the arrival of the Imam, who with the Archbishop of Bangui and a Protestant Pastor is part of the trio of the Platform of Religious Leaders, which worked and works for peace and mediation. Finally the Pope comes, welcomed with an ovation that involves approximately 30,000 people inside the stadium and the tens of thousands who are outside. It comes with a simple van Toyota, without bulletproof glass. With the same car He just went at Km 5, scene of clashes between Muslims and non-Muslims. It's a little a slap to UN peacekeepers and the United Nations, which in those neighborhoods do not go, or, if they really have to, they go there with armored vehicles. The Mass begins. It’s a sunny day but very hot. (Fr. Matteo after a while has to leave, victim of a malaria attack. At present is feeling better!). But we offer all this too with joy! The Pope, in spite of fatigue, has very strong words to encourage Christians and everybody to "to reach the other shore" (the theme of the visit). It points out that the other bank is the eternal life yes but also the lives here on earth for which entrusts the Central Africans the mission to be makers of peace and justice. The liturgy is very lively. The Gospel is preceded by dancers sounding horns and traditional instruments. The Gospel is on a stretcher, held by a child. Even the offertory is very nice, with gifts for the liturgy, but also the gifts from the various dioceses. After Communion, the Archbishop of Bangui taking the word  presents the Country, with its difficulties, but also with the grace and joy for this exceptional visit, with the presence of the Pope and the opening of the Holy Door. Eventually he presented some gifts to the Pope, and asked him to bless a bit of Central African land. The Pope after a while is back on the "popemobile" and after a short tour leaves toward the airport, from where it took off around 1.00pm. Slowly we exit from the stadium. Thousands of people converge to the only gate, but we manage to get out. It is awesome to see the stadium full of people. The streets crowded. And everyone is happy and full of joy for this great gift. Now this is the moment to let the emotions go moving in a concrete way to the other shore, time to turn the page! With the grace of God, the commitment of everyone ... we can do it.                  Thanks Pope Francis!

The Pope's visit to Central African Republic.2

La Porta Santa della Cattedrale di Bangui
La Porte Sainte de la Cathédrale de Bangui

The Pope's visit to Central African Republic.2
Pope Francis who arrived at 10am, after the official greetings, went to visit the Parish of Saint Sauveur, where a few thousand people have taken refuge. Here Fr. Mesmin, which follows security issues on behalf of the diocese, is able to see him. At 1.30pm we leave Carmel with 4 cars: Fathers, nuns, students, novices, etc. At 500 meters from Carmel we meet a motorcycle with somebody holding a Kalashnikov, but we go on. At 2.00pm we are in front of the Cathedral. The controls performed by ONU Peacemakers are serious. We go ... and wait! At 5.00pm, the Pope is facing the Holy Door of the Cathedral He speaks French and Italian, and says that today Bangui is the spiritual capital of the world! And he asks (in Sango) everyone to repeat with him: Ndoye. Siriri (Love and Peace) and the crowd inside and outside the cathedral repeat in a very loud way. It is a very exciting time! And then the Pope opened the Holy Door of the Jubilee of Mercy! And he enters the Cathedral, preceded by the bishops of the country and in Central Africa. Passes right next to us! The Mass is very intense. There is a lot of prayer and much attention. During the readings, our young student, Br. Jeannot, sings the responsorial psalm! The homily is in Italian, translated in Sango by an interpreter. The content is highly rich in meaning. It reminds us that beyond all, God is the faithful Rock who never abandons us! Hi calls the parties that are fighting to lay down their weapons! It is very beautiful listen inside the Cathedral to hear the crowd that follows from outside (through amplifier and giant screen) and that cheers and celebrates when the Pope says these things! He also says that the Central African Republic has a nice name (in Sango in fact means "the heart of Africa" and asks everyone to truly become the heart of Africa that loves! The offertory is simple, some nuns and lay people dancing bear the fruits of the earth with bread and wine. After Communion, the Archbishop of Bangui makes a beautiful speech, giving thanks for the loyalty and closeness of the Pope during these years of war, and offers, as a gift, pastoral made of ebony. After the blessing, the bishops leave along with the diplomatic corps and the government. We wait, and after about ten minutes the Pope passes through the aisle. He goes out of the church, and here begins a vigil for young people. The Pope himself  celebrates the sacrament of confession. We too leave eventually moving to the parking lot. Here a couple of young people come to ask for a blessing! And tomorrow will be another historic day, with Mass at the Stadium.

Frère Jeannot canta il Salmo Responsoriale
Le Frère Jeannot chante le Psaume