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Saturday, April 30, 2016

Mango and flamboyant

Mango and flamboyant
Here in Central Africa this is an enjoyable season. We are at blossom time of the "flamboyant”. The scientific name is “Delonix regia”, a very nice tree which for two months becomes covered with red flowers. This is also the mango season, a delicious fruit, produced at an industrial scale by majestic trees. Mango seems created on purpose by the Providence, because it comes in the period between the dry and the rainy season, in which somewhat the food is in short supply.
We are living a very busy week because of catechism tests. Sunday, May 1st we will celebrate the Baptisms.  Saturday, Monday and Tuesday afternoon I’ll dedicate my time to the adults, youth and kids who at present are catechumens. From 3.00pm to 7.00pm they’ll undergo to a real examination in which I want to reassure myself that they know at least a bit of our faith and most of all that they wish to receive the Sacrament of Baptism not because it’s a tradition, but because they really want to. I like to feel in their hearts and to see in their eyes a sparkling hunger for God and His love.
The work of our friends from Prague members of Siriri.Org during these days is going on. Their project "Learning by playing” is proving to be a success, and we are thinking how to expand it to other schools. Wednesday and Thursday I take them to Bouar, along with Mario and Luigina. The journey (250 km between Bozoum and Bouar) is fairly quiet. We meet a large convoy (at least 300 large trucks) that from Cameroon goes to Bangui. They too are travelling their own way.

Il "flamboyant"


Il convento di St.Elia a Bouar
Le couvent de St.Elie à Bouar

Saturday, April 23, 2016

From Prague to Bozoum

From Prague to Bozoum
Friday, April 15 ends the meeting held in Brussels with the presence of Officials from EU and UN in which we discussed the Central African Republic present situation.
The next day I go to Prague. Brussels airport, because of recent terrorist attacks, is full of soldiers and police. There are lots of controls and a lot of tension as well. The same tense situation is in the City. Everywhere the atmosphere is a tense one.
Once In Prague I go to meet the friends of SIRIRI.Org and the Friars of our Community. With the SIRIRI friends we talk of shared projects particularly health and education. In the afternoon I chat with Karol Böhm, the architect who designed the Lyceum St. Augustin in Bozoum and the Foyer. We discuss the great project of the Carmel in Bangui: the construction of a new convent, a church, an Apostolic Centre, and the idea of a possible monastery for Carmelite nuns. In the evening I’m with my Friars Carmelites in Prague. In the Church-Shrine there is the statue of the Child Jesus all dress up in white because of Easter season. I stay for a little while with Him entrusting to his love the Central Africa Republic especially our communities of Baoro, Bozoum, Yole, St.Elie and Bangui. On Sunday I take the opportunity to visit this beautiful city, and also to spend time with friends.
On Monday I leave for Brussels. In the evening I’m in Paris where I spend the night. I have the flight to Bangui the next day.  Wednesday morning I'm back in Bangui airport where I welcome Ludmila and Vojtech, members of the Association SIRIRI.ORG. They are here to monitor the projects, especially the one called "Studying by playing". It is a very interesting project that wants to help the students in an effort of entering the school learning Sango, the national language, in a nicer and more "enjoyable environment."
On Thursday we finally leave towards Bozoum. We meet 16 (sixteen!) barriers among police, gendarmerie and military. Five of them are there only for toll charges! Despite fears I can go on without any problem.  We get to Bozoum at noon just in time to enjoy “the river” of young students walking back home from the school. Every day here at the Mission come to School more than 1,200 children, including kindergarten, elementary school, Middle and High School.


Bruxelles, la cathédrale



Saturday, April 16, 2016

Sacrament of Confirmations and EU

Sacrament of Confirmations and EU
Saturday, April 9 I leave early morning and at 11:30 I'm in Bozoum. Tomorrow we will celebrate the Confirmations, and in the afternoon we keep ourselves available to listen to the confessions.
Sunday Fr. Marcello, sent by the Bishop, presides over the Mass. Those who are going to receive the Confirmation are more than 130: boys, girls and adults. This sacrament, which is the gift of the Holy Spirit, is intended to help them grow to a more mature adult Christian life. The Mass is very lively, and the church is packed.
On Monday I travel towards Bangui. At about 160 km from Bozoum there’s a police barrier. It is already a good number of times I find myself in troubles, and today the police threaten me seriously. The reason is that a few months ago, seeing the level of corruption of these agents, I had complained and name now is on a black list. Finally, after one hour of threats and shouts, I can move on. The arrival in Bangui it’s under a heavy rain.
The next day we celebrate Fr. Anastasio birthday and in the afternoon I leave to Brussels. Here welcomes me Marcela, member of the Association Aid to the Church in Need. In 2014 they had organized and accompanied me in different EU Agencies, where I had been able to explain what was happening in Central Africa Republic. I'm here in Brussels because the European Union is organizing a high-level meeting to discuss the Central African Republic situation and, most of all to try to understand how to move in the near future, now that the elections have taken place and a legitimate Government elected is already running the Country. We are about thirty people, including Officials of United Nations and E.U.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Greetings from India, 2

le nipotine di sr Anil
les nièces de sr Anil

Greetings from India, 2
Saturday, April 2
Today, twelve CMC’s nuns celebrate 25th anniversary of their Consecration, and ten more nuns their Golden Jubilee. The night before the sisters prepared a small show, complete with a band and many more entertainments! Beautiful dances, with beautiful traditional Indian music. The celebration of jubilees of religious profession is an important occasion to give thanks to the Lord for the gift of a positive answer to His call to the consecrated life. The bishop who did preside over the celebration was very friendly in his words. After a great lunch with the celebrating nuns and their families, we leave driving towards Cochin. We make a due stop at Thrissur where lived the first saint of their Congregation, Sister Euphrasia, who carried on a mystical life enriched by continuous prayers.
Sunday, April 3
A day dedicated to visit the families of the sisters who have lived and live in Central Africa. We meet very united families of great faith. Each family asks us to have together a moment of prayer in the room or in the larger living room where they keep the holy images. We begin with a visit to the Sister Vincent’s tomb which is at Karnukutty. She had been a few years in Central Africa: a woman of great wisdom and spirituality. Then we move on to Sr. Anil family where we meet three gorgeous children, then Sr. Paulsy and Sr.Payton families. In every home we are greeted with great warmth, and with a lot of food! In the afternoon we continue our visits beginning with Sr. Julitta family. Sr. Julitta left Central Africa few years ago. She is still the Sister we knew: simple person with a very calm attitude. We end our visitations going to a convent where we find Sister Divya, a veteran of Central Africa.
Monday, April 4
In the morning we go to Ernakulam, ancient center of Cochin, where we visit the cathedral and a beautiful church dedicated to St. George, one of the very important list of saints of Kerala, along with St. Joseph and St. Thomas. We go around for some shopping in stores which are a celebration for our eyes because of the dramatic colors! After lunch a quick visit to a factory for the production of rice and a plant for biogas production. Returning to Angamaly, we meet Fr. Jacob, who worked many years in Central Africa. After a visit to the Novitiate of Kalady, with him we leave a 4.00pm towards the mountains arriving around 7.30pm at the convent of Chiturapuram at an altitude of 1,500 meters, where we find a nice refreshing air.
Tuesday, April 5
Today we keep busy visiting this region, carpeted with the tea plantations. The hills offer beautiful views, with trees and green everywhere. There are also some dams, and we, lucky enough, can take a ride on the elephants! They swing a lot, and uphill they too ... go better downhill! Eventually we reward them with a cob of corn and a few pineapples of which, very intelligently they eat first the fruit and then the leaves that gently they take with their proboscis! In the evening we arrive at Aluva, the General House of the Sisters CMC: we receive an amazing welcome, and after a great dinner, we held a meeting with their Council to discuss the opening of a second House in Central Africa, at Carmel in Bangui.
Wednesday, April 6
After a very short night, we celebrate mass in the Syro-Malabar rite. It’s a very nice ceremony, with lots of songs. We of course don’t understand much, but I have to say that at least we could answer some “amen”. After the celebration we leave immediately: direction south, towards Changanassery. Here in a house donated by a local benefactor we meet the former Mother General, Sr. Santa.  After we have eaten something (we never miss food!), we go with them on a boat on the lake Vambanat, a large one where the blue of the water get lost with that of heaven, in a beautiful frame of coconut palms. Then we leave for lunch at the provincial House of Changanassery, where we meet Sr. Vandana parents.  We return to Angamaly where we stop in order to buy fabrics for the liturgical vestments of our altar boys in Bozoum. After dinner, we find ourselves with Sisters Anil, Payton and Paulsy for a nice game of cards where basically one was the player!
Thursday, April 7
The moment of leaving is here. After Mass and breakfast, we really have to say goodbye. And we do it with a bit of sadness! The exceptional welcome and, above all, the opportunity to learn something of this wonderful world that is the Kerala and India, to meet the Congregation of CMC’s Sisters and our Brothers Carmelites, force us to thank the Lord for these gifts! Around noon we move from Cochin to Mumbai (Bombay). Here Sr. Paulsy’s brother has a Hotel (the Grand Hotel). He makes us welcome at the airport, and carry to the hotel. After taking few minutes of rest we go for a tour in the city. It is impressive to see the traffic, the buildings and the skyscrapers under construction. There is also a lot of poverty and misery that we didn’t see in Kerala, and here instead is a strident contrast. After seeing the "gateway of India" (an arch built in 1911 during the visit of King George V) we return, but our way back to the Hotel it takes a long time because there are queues everywhere! After a little supper we go to the airport, but here comes a surprise: Fr. Mesmin can't leave because he doesn’t have the transit visa for France! Fortunately I can call the hotel and they come to pick him up, while from Arenzano our Friars are activated to make him fly the next day through another route. So I leave alone, and after more than 9 hours I arrive in Paris just in time to catch the flight to Bangui, where I arrive on Friday evening, along with Fr. Anastasio who did join me in Paris. Thanks India. Thanks Kerala. Nice Country, nice people, nice food!

le suore che festeggiano 50 anni di vita religiosa

la noce moscata
la noix de Mouscade

cattedrale siro malabarica a Ernakulam

St George, Ernakulam

il succo della canna da zucchero
le jus de la canne à sucre

plantations de thé

Gateway of India, Mumbay