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Sunday, March 29, 2015

The usual Marathon.

The usual Marathon.
It is a beautiful but very busy week the one reaching the end.  Monday and Tuesday, boys, girls, youth and adults were under pressure because of the examination on the Catechism. All of them are going to be baptized on the Easter Vigil. With great emotion we listen to the magnificent words of our faith from the mouth of the catechumens. The great truths of faith, expressed so well. Meanwhile is on newsstands only in Bozoum or here on the net:  the first issue of "THE SAINT MICHEL," the newspaper of Bozoum parish. Is the beginning of a new adventure in a Country where newspapers are very few and restricted to Bangui. So, where books, magazines and print media are a rarity, the magazine of the Parish here in Bozoum becomes an opportunity to read, reflect and to share ideas. The newspaper is the result of a good cooperation and solidarity among a good number of people: Mimmo who followed the purchase of the printer, those who have assembled the machinery, and those who have paid for, who offered the paper, up to Paul working as editor of the newspaper. Wednesday is the day of our pilgrimage. We begin the great journey of young people, from Bozoum until Bossemptele (almost 90 km!). We have over 200 subscribers, others will be added along the way. The purpose of the pilgrimage is to walk together, to pray together, and to sow in the hearts and in the villages we’ll pass through the Word of God's Peace.
The journey takes place in four stages:
• Wednesday: Bozoum - Bokongo (17 km). Departure at 2.30pm - arrival at 5.00pm
• Thursday: Bokongo - Bombalou (33 km). Departure at 5:30am - arrival at 11.00am
• Friday: Bombalou - Boyaram (17 km). Departure 8:30am - arrival 11.00am
• Saturday: Boyaram - Bossemptele (25 km). Departure 6.00am – arrival 10.00am
Just this week we remember the 5th Centenary of St. Teresa birthday (March 28, 1515), a woman who has walked a lot, full of joy and faith. Long distance and very hot sun (Thursday we reached 41 degrees Celsius), don’t discourage our pilgrims. Part of the way we walk praying, singing as long as we can breathe and when possible even a little further. With us there is also Gauthier, a boy with a handicap, who with his wheelchair succeeds in following us, sometimes, if he finds his way, he goes even ahead of us! I walk with them for the first two stages, and then I let them go with Fr.Enrico and Fr.Ciriaque, because of my other commitments, and to be honest also because of my sore feet. On Friday afternoon there is the Council of Teachers for the end of the second quarter of our middle school and high school St. Augustin.
Have a safe journey!


Arrivo a Bombalou

Monday, March 23, 2015

Return to Bozoum

l'omaggio dei bambini dell'Asilo
l'hommage des enfants de l'école Maternelle

Return to Bozoum
After a week of travel, Thursday night I was back to Bozoum, and now here I am in conversation with you. Tuesday morning I did take my flight in Paris, and around 3.30pm we arrived in Bangui. To recover the luggage and leave the airport is always an adventure! Fr.Federico is there to welcome me, and we drive towards the Carmel. This time we pass by "Km 5", a district which until 2013 was a large market place. Many Muslims were living there, mostly traders. Since almost two years ago it’s the first time I stop there. It is impressive to see the devastation I found there: destroyed houses, ruins and almost no economic activity. On Wednesday morning I leave for Baoro, arriving there on early afternoon. In Baoro Father Renato who died in Italy on March 9th worked for many years until recently. Thursday morning I attend a major Eucharistic Celebration in the parish church, presided over by the Bishop, a memorial Mass for the eternal repose of the blessed soul of Father Renato. A large crowd had gathered from many villages remembering his priestly ministry among them. It was a very strongly felt Mass, with many songs, and a lot of involvement. Were present the kindergarten children too. These children, at the end of the Celebration, gave a touching tribute moving emotionally everybody. I go back to Bozoum where a lot of work has to be done.  Just this week in the North there were attacks against the small traders (at least 8 people dead) and against Bozoum. As a reaction, some antibalaka looted two shops (without any intervention by Blue Helmets who are present in the city!). Friday morning I have a meeting with the parish youth. With them we are organizing the annual pilgrimage, involving at least 200 people. In four days journey we’ll reach Bossemptele, covering 87 km. It is a journey of prayer, of faith and witness for peace. A last beautiful news: if everything goes in the right direction we are going to have here in Bozoum a RADIO, which will help to broadcast  issues of training and education.

La Chiesa di Baoro
L'eglise de Baoro


Thursday, March 19, 2015

Forgive me. I`m late! I was travelling for few days.

Forgive me. I`m late! I was travelling for few days.
The week started badly:
Father Renato, a 62 year old Carmelite Missionary in Baoro, who just returned to Italy 3 weeks ago, got very sick in few days and suddenly died on Monday evening Mar. 09 at Verona Hospital, after a very short sickness (leukemia).
On Tuesday morning I left at 3:30AM from Bozoum to go to Bangui. I was travelling with Maurizio and Paolo who are ending their work period in Central Africa.
At about 6:00PM we did take the flight to Paris that we reached on the next morning. On Wednesday about 12:00PM I landed in Torino and at 2:00PM I did reach Cuneo surprising my sister who didn't expect me.
On Thursday I went to Arenzano where I could pray on Father Renato`s coffin. I have known him since 1974 and his sudden death made me reflect on his life and personality. He was a great worker, shy and reserved. He worked in the villages around Bozoum and Baoro. He was a very knowledgeable constructor, he left his mark in Bossemptele, Baoro, Bozoum, Yole`, St.Elie and at Bangui Carmel.
Before the funeral celebration, we gathered close to the Shrine with about 40 priests (many Carmelites but also some Missionary Capuchins and Betharramits) . The Emeritus Bishop of Barberati Mon. Agostino Delfino was present too. He was the one who received in 1979 Father Renato in the Mission.
At the ceremony participated Father Renato`s whole family: his 92 years old mother (beautiful in her Faith and dignity) his brothers and sisters. Present also were the many who knew and worked with Father Renato in the Mission.
The celebration was intense and serene; at the Eucharist we sang a song in Sango to thank God for the gift of Father Renato to Central Africa.
After the celebration we travelled to Arenzano cemetery where Father Renato will rest in peace among the Carmelite brothers.
At 4:30PM I left for Germany.
On Friday I was at Wurzburg, where the ``Aid for the suffering Church`` Association was gathering in a congress.
I did participate in a round table, with a Bishop from Nigeria, a lady from Egypt and a lay man from Pakistan, to present the situation in some countries (among them Central Africa) where to be a Christian it`s often a dangerous matter.
On Saturday I left for Prague where, in the evening, I did encounter the Siriri Association which helped us for so long and still does. With them we will start some interesting projects for the High School students (to build a poultry-pen) and funding to build a kind of start-up for the students who will end their studying.
On Sunday morning I was in Tuchomerice, at Karol Bohm`s home, the architect who drew Bozoum St. Augustin`s High School. I went with Father Davide Sollami and Enrico Massone to talk and discuss about a big project: the building of a Convent in Bangui. It is a project that wants to give form to a presence and a social-religious activity in a place which can represent also a model of construction and Religious Home.
In the evening I returned to Prague and I did find the time to meet with the Czech Ambassador of Nigeria. His Embassy and Government do help us a lot, especially about Education and Health. On Monday morning I did take a quick tour of this beautiful city. At 9:00AM I did celebrate a Mass and prayed the “Prague Baby Jesus” for the Missions and all the people I know.
I was at the airport late in the morning in order to leave for Paris and on Tuesday for Bangui.
At Baoro, on Thursday we will have a memorial celebration with the Bishop of Bouar, Missionaries and Christians to remember Father Renato by the Faith and the Central Africa warmth.


Monday, March 9, 2015

Rice, beans and solar panels

Rice, beans and solar panels
On Sundays, Lenten time, besides the Mass we are focused on meeting the catechumens who will be baptized at Easter. They are now at the last weeks of preparation, and after the celebration of the Mass we gather together for a moment of prayer and reflection. Schools continue, as well the lessons given by Paolo to the High School students. Monday we begin to distribute some food (beans) which I purchased for the poor and for the families in need. At present (dry season) they are struggling to feed themselves properly. Many families consist of Muslims in special difficulty because of the run-away of men, but also by elderly and lonely people. During the Fair I did buy 100 bags of beans, so at this time of dry season, in which agricultural products are not abundant, we can help out those in need. One reason we can't forget ... there are Organizations that distribute food, but often it is not a regular distribution. In addiction they distribute products such as rice, and this is a big problem here in Bozoum. Why?  People of this area while producing rice cannot sell it because the one distributed by these Organizations is on the market at lower cost. Tuesday and Wednesday I went to Bouar, for a meeting with the friars that live in Cameroon, and with whom we collaborate by helping each other in the training of young people: some Cameroonians are in Central Africa as novices, two Central Africans are in Cameroon studying theology. At Bozoum we are finally completing the work for solar panels installation. We thank Mario, Maurizio e Paolo. We thank also our friends who follow us from Italy in coordinating the job.
And now we are looking forward to the next week!

Il riso degli Organismi "svenduto" sul mercato di Bozoum
Le riz distribué par les Organismes vendu sur le marché de Bozoum

A sant'Elia (Bouar) con i confratelli del Cameroun
à Saint Elie (Bouar) avec les frères du Cameroun (P.Marie Joseph et p.Dieudonné)

Pelizza da Volpedo: il quarto stato