25 YEARS (+ ONE)
Twenty five years ago on 22nd September 1992, I arrived in Central Africa. I had already lived in Bozoum for a year, in 1982-83 just for a pastoral experience. But in 1992 it was for real, and for a long time. It does not even seem true to me, and I can only thank God, my people, my Carmelite family and my own family for all that I have received in these years. 25 years are a breath, and they go so fast. As for now I simply look ahead.
On Saturday, I was still in Bouar with our Communities committed to the formation of our young people. Early that day, during di morning Liturgy of the Hours, 7 young people received the religious habit, and they started their Novitiate year. A little later, three young guys completed the Novitiate year by declaring their vows, promising God to live in poverty, chastity, and obedience. September, here in Central Africa, is the period of resuming all pastoral and educational activities.
On Sunday 17th, the twenty Ecclesiastical Movements of the Parish were present at 8.30 am Mass, in which we began the pastoral activities. Catechism is also being resumed in these days: around 300 children, young people and adults are preparing to receive Baptism during a four years journey.
Monday is the opening day of schools across the Country. And finally, after a couple of months of vacation, the streets, the square and the classrooms of the Mission are filled with the voices of hundreds of kids, from the Maternal School to the High School, passing through Elementary and other grades. They are all happy: teachers, parents and children: even among the youngest, no one is crying. I have to say: the contrary!
On Tuesday morning I’m on my way back to Bangui. Here we have two working days with Giovanni, architect, who came to help us in reviewing the construction project of the Bangui Carmel Convent. I come back to Bozoum on Friday morning.
I feel satisfied for the work done, but also worried because these same days we received a letter in which the MINUSCA (UN Peace Keepers) accuses the Catholic Church of supporting antibalaka militias, and of being against Muslims. While instead our Missions welcome and defend Muslims, take care and protect them. The truth is that some Fathers are threatened because they publicly denounce what is happening (and for this reason a Polish Capuchin friar was beaten for long 4 hours)... And this happened while we were meeting just with religious leaders (Catholics, Protestants and Muslims). It’s really sad to receive this kind of letters with these unfair accusations, from those who should defend the civilians. Instead they didn’t show the courage to go and help the tortured Father while they were just 15 meters away. They simply went on without stopping.
|Riunione a Bangui con p.Federico, p.Arland, p.Mesmin, p.Dieudonné e l'arch. Giovanni (a dx)|