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Saturday, October 31, 2015

Last rains

la Farmacia di Rollin
La Pharmacie de Rollin

Last rains
Is about to finish the rainy season, which in our Country begins in April-May and ends between October and November. It is a very busy time for the agricultural work. The climate is very moist, but the heat is acceptable. The roads are worse by the day, a middle way between a swimming pool, a sea of mud and potholes and gullies. The rainy season is reaching its natural end. On these very days in the Capital there were other clashes between Muslims and non-Muslims. By now the tension is so high, that it takes nothing to blow up in a pandemonium. Killings and reprisals; houses, churches and mosques burned. People flee and take the road to the refugee camps: the airport, some school, and many missions. Even in our convent of Carmel have arrived at least a thousand people! Here in Bozoum the situation remains fairly quiet, but the roads are becoming dangerous, particularly the road to Bangui, which is blocked by bandits who take advantage of the disorder attacking, looting and killing. In Bozoum the school continues. These days I visited some of the small business "start-up" that, with the help of our friends SIRIRI.ORG Prague (by the way: on the street signs Prague is turned into Traha!!!) the students of our high school have opened, after a positive achievement at the end of high school. These are the new business: trade, gardens, a pharmacy, a "computer services center", a shop selling drinks. The imagination has no limits, the same for our hope to help them to build up something solid and sustainable. "The saint Michel", the newspaper of Bozoum, is now on newsstand.  Enjoy the reading!

scrivere richiede impegno!
pour écrire, il faut s'y mettre!

il centro servizi informatici
le Centre de services informatiques

la rivendita bevande
le depots de Boisson de Peo Amos

il mercato di Bozoum
le marché de Bozoum

Monday, October 26, 2015

Back home, in Bozoum!

Back home, in Bozoum!
Thursday October 15 I left Lisbon, and after a stopover in Paris, around 3.00 pm I land in Turin. Here Valter, a friend, welcome me and takes me up to our parish of St. Teresa of Avila. Today we celebrate the liturgical Feast of this great Saint. It’s also the 5th centenary of her birth. We are going to have a great celebration. The Eucharist is chaired by Cardinal Amato, who came from Rome just for this great commemorative moment. At this Solemn Mass is present Fr. Giustino our Provincial Superior, the Carmelites “Sisters of St. Teresa” of Turin and a very large crowd of worshipers. A great number of priests did celebrate with the Cardinal. After greeting the sisters, fathers and friends, at 8.30 pm I left with Paul, another good friend of mine. Together we drive toward Cuneo, where we arrived around 10.00 pm. Lots of friendly hugs with his sister, grandchildren etc., and then with his mother. Finally I can go to sleep!
I’m going to stay few days in Cuneo mostly with my family. On Tuesday morning, I woke up at 3.00 am to reach the airport of Turin. At 6.00 am I take my flight to Paris. From Paris to Bangui where I arrive in the evening. Here I visit our community of Carmel, surrounded as usual by almost 3,000 refugees (increased in recent weeks because of the clashes ...). Wednesday I ask about the situation of the road that goes from Bangui to Bozoum (and towards the border with Cameroon). Despite being the only way through which the capital can get food and goods, it is virtually blocked since September 26: there are barriers built by bandits, who take advantage of the situation to loot and steal. Luckily I can find a ride with the plane of the United Nations for humanitarian aids (UNHASS). On Thursday morning we leave, and around 10.00 am we are in Bouar. Here I take the opportunity to meet our communities of Saint Elia and Yolé, and in the evening I reach Baoro. I can meet Fr. Lionello, Br. Martial and the just arrived Fr. Carlo Cencio (missionary in Central Africa since 1971!!!). Friday morning I’m again on the road toward Bozoum where I arrive at noon. I greet the community and the new nuns who arrived during my absence. 
I’m finally home!

con la nipote grande....


Cuneo, alle 3.25 di notte...

Foto per carta d'identità
Photo identité


P.Carlo a Baoro
p.Charles à Baoro

Friday, October 16, 2015

Fatima 2015


Fatima 2015
After the adventurous departure from Bouar, Friday morning I was able to take the flight to Cameroon. I’m with Ludmila, member of the association SIRIRI.ORG of Prague. In Douala we go to greet the "new" Sisters of Bozoum, the Congregation of Our Lady of Mercy. They welcome us with great joy. At 11.00 pm we leave again, this time flying to Paris. From there I continue toward Lisbon, where I arrive at 11.00 am on Saturday. I’m here in Lisbon, invited by Aid to the Church in Need, to talk about the difficult situation in Central Africa. Travel with me Sister Annie Demerjian who lives and works in Syria, a bishop of Nigeria, and Fr. Andreas that deals with the situation of Christians in the Middle East. Finding myself with such exceptional people, and sharing with them the passion for the Church and the faithfulness of so many men and women persecuted because of their faith is impressive. In Syria they live under continuous bombardment. Nevertheless in this sea of destruction Sister Annie and her sisters are able to help those in need, with joy and respect for human dignity. In Nigeria they live under the constant threat of terrorist attacks against churches (every Sunday there are massacres). It is a very difficult and threatening situation that touches me deeply. We often think, at least in the West, that martyrdom is something belonging to the past centuries; instead it’s a reality today for thousands of people, who continue to bear witness with joy to the beauty of the Christian faith! We wish that their faith and their sacrifice strengthen our own Faith! At my arrival I am welcomed by Catarina Martins and Felix Lungu, of the Portuguese branch of Aid to the Church in Need, and under the rain we move toward the North. After about 350 km driving we arrive, around 4.30 pm, in Braga, where we find ourselves almost immediately on the stage in order to present the situations of our Countries, Syria, Nigeria and Central Africa. The next day we go to a Shrine dedicated to St. Benedict (San Benito Puerta Aberta), where we celebrate the Eucharist with a great number of people praying for the persecuted Christians. We find here also a small community of Cistercian nuns, with whom we meet and pray. The same evening we drive to Fatima where we arrived around 11.00 pm. These are the days signed by big celebrations for the anniversary of the last apparition of the Virgin Mary on October 13, 1917. Here, in this small village of little or no importance, the Virgin appeared to three shepherd children, giving them the commitment to call everybody to prayer and conversion. October 12 morning: I go by myself at the large esplanade. There are still a few people, and I have the time to confess, pray, lighting up 3 candles: one for Central Africa, one for our Carmelite family, and one for family and friends. Around noon I celebrate the Mass in Italian, and here I find some dear friends from Italy. In the evening the prayer of the Rosary, followed by a procession with the statue of Blessed Virgin Mary. It's raining, but the square is crowded and it's beautiful and impressive to see such a faith. The day after, October 13, is the feast day. After prayer of the Rosary the Mass begins. We are 500 priests, twenty bishops, and a lot of people. We are blessed by a bright sun, and the celebration of the Eucharist is really solemn and participated with emotion. We end with a procession that brings the statue back to its place, and I find myself right next to the throne on which it is placed. In the afternoon we leave for Lisbon, where we speak once more about our Countries, in a hall of the Geographical Society of Portugal. On October 14 we deal with a number of interviews by TV, newspapers and radio, but we can have a couple of hours to visit Lisbon (the church of Saint Anthony, with his birth home), the cathedral and the monastery of the Jeronimos. And now I am in my way to Italy. I will leave Italy on October 20.


La casa natale di Lucia, una dei 3 veggenti di Fatima
la maison de Lucie, une des 3 voyants de Fatima

So, am I travelling or not?

So, am I travelling or not?

I’m on the road again. On Monday I go to Bouar, about 250 Km from Bozoum. The roads, at the end of the raining season, are always at their worst. At Bossemptele, at 87 Km from Bozoum, I see few hundred trucks which are stopped since almost two weeks because the fights at Bangui. In the next few days they will try to go to Bangui, but there are many antibalaka barriers and a clear intention to assault the vehicles to sack them. I’m going to Bouar because the annual gathering of all the Parishes. 
Together, with the Bishop, we discuss and present the situation of each of the 12 parishes of a diocese
which is 300 KM large and 250 Km long. It’s a beautiful moment of exchange, fraternity and work but also fun. It’s very intense moment about Faith and the love for the country and the people entrusted to us. We ended up on Wednesday with a beautiful celebration to entrust our Lady of the Rosary with all our struggles, our dreams and hopes so the country could get up and restart again. On Thursday I should travel and come down to Bangui. The road is still blocked: on Tuesday, the Unite Nation soldiers tried to remove the antibalaka obstacles, but, when the convoy was passing by, they have been attacked with the result of some wounded and dead men. I’m afraid that the road to Bangui is going to stay closed for long time! Almost as a miracle, on Thursday morning I get seats on the Bouar-Bangui flight for me and Ludmila, the lady from Prague who, on behalf the SIRIRI Association, worked on training the teachers. Back home 16 little children are waiting for her and she cannot be late! We fly with a UNHASS plane (a Unite Nation Agency) on which there are many ONG employees who have been blocked for a couple of weeks in the several bases scattered in the Country. After landing in Berberati, we arrive at Bangui about 1:00pm. The tension is high and there is long line up at the gasoline pumps: due to the blocked road, it’s very difficult for the capital city to find what’s necessary for everyday life. On Friday morning I catch the plane to Douala, in Cameroon, to leave again, on Saturday, to Paris and Lisbon, where friends of The Help for the Suffering Church are waiting for me to hear firsthand one Central Africa witness.

Code a Bangui per cercare il carburante...
les queues à Bangui pour acheter du carburant

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Fears and Hopes

Fears and Hopes
All began days ago when the Central Africa is once again in turmoil. Between Saturday 26 and Tuesday 29 of September, just in Bangui only there were, according to the UN, 41 dead and 266 wounded. It all started with the discovery of a murdered Muslim, and in no time the situation was suddenly out of control. Lots of killings, shootings, robberies and vandalism, while many NGOs have been looted, and their offices destroyed.  All this has forced 42,575 people to leave their home, finding refuge in various shelters: parishes, monasteries, airport, created by December 2013.
Now that things seemed to calm down a bit, while we were waiting for the next elections, we are back just where we started. There is still much work to do if we want to touch deeply the culture and heart of people. We need a fresh restart. We need to learn how to think in the long term, without being overwhelmed by the urgency of the immediate results. We need to disarm those who don’t want peace. There is still too much to do, and unfortunately, this is my feeling: until now we have done almost nothing or very little, even by large organizations like the United Nations. In other cities a good number of criminals took the opportunity to loot, attack the prisons and giving room to more problems.
Here in Bozoum just a few shootings, some threat to the NGOs, but otherwise we did experience just severe tension. A very fool one allowed himself to threaten one of our children, Muslim, in his way back from school Because of such stupid behaviors I went several times downtown complaining about scaring presence of dangers and discourage the intruders. Last
Sunday we celebrated St. Vincent, such a great saint. He somehow "invented" the charity. Not in the meaning that the charity didn’t exist before. Saint Vincent lived by thinking and dreaming how to put the charity into action. It is he who did call rich and poor, noble and middle-class men and women to go and to give help to those in need, with love and intelligence, giving time, money and different kind of stuff, but above all tenderness and mercy, in the name of God. Even here in Bozoum there are the “St. Vincent’s Conferences”. Sunday I take this opportunity to talk about this saint and the way how to practice intelligent and loving charity.
On Monday morning I celebrate Mass for the students in our schools. It is impressive to see many, many, but many children in church! More than 1,200! The celebration is very vibrant with praise and prayers. I see with emotion how even the youngest from the kindergarten pray and sing. Our schools are improving well, due to the changes introduced by our friends of Siriri, the NGO of Prague. One of them, Ludmila, has been here for the first few weeks of school to help teachers with the new methods. To teach how to read everything is useful: even a T-shirt of an Italian Soccer Team named “Inter” with the promotional inscription “Samsung”.