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Monday, February 19, 2018

A brand new Bishop

A brand new Bishop
Saturday morning, February 10th, since before 5.00am the church square of Bozoum is already full of people. Trucks and cars are ready, and at 5.15 we leave for Bouar, with a delegation of 110 parishioners, to participate in the consecration of the new bishop of Bouar, Mirek Gucwa.
I went ahead a bit before the group to organize the welcome of all the participants.
The diocese of Bouar includes 12 parishes, and for each one a delegation of 50 people will be welcomed by the various communities of the city of Bouar. There’s an air of “church”.
The ordination of the Bishop is an exceptional event. Created in 1978, the diocese of Bouar had had for almost forty years only one bishop, Monsignor Armando Gianni. For the occasion, the Apostolic Nuncio and all the bishops of the Country are present, together with the bishop of Tarnow (Poland) from whom the Abbé Mirek comes. They have in common not only the nationality but they have been also companions in the seminary and priestly ordination. Were present also 2 Bishops from Cameroon.
At 9.00am on Saturday morning there is a meeting between some bishops and the Christians who have come for the occasion from the entire diocese: almost 3 hours of catechesis about the bishop's role and ministry, held by Cardinal Nzapalainga of Bangui, and by the bishops of Mbaiki, Bangassou, Alindao ... Between interventions, songs and friendly conversations, time passed quickly.
Sunday is the big day. Everything is organized to perfection. And at 8.30am Mass begins: 12 bishops, a hundred priests, and about 3,000 faithful fill the great Cathedral. After a brilliant homily by the Cardinal (in French and in Sango), we pass to the actual rite: the bishops present, after invoking the Holy Spirit, pray and lay their hands on Mirek, while two deacons hold high the Gospel book. And Mirek becomes Bishop Mirek. Immediately afterwards he receives the signs of his ministry: the Miter, the Crozier and the Ring.  After the intense moments of the offertory, the Consecration and Communion, we are ready to listen to the sermon of the new Bishop. It is good to hear (both from the Cardinal and the new Bishop) that the Diocese of Bouar is rich in charity and deeds (schools, hospitals, agriculture) but also in religious communities that are dedicate with joy and generosity to the poorest. In the end the new Bishop passes among the congregation blessing "his" people, which welcomes him with great joy and emotion!
In the afternoon I go back to Bozoum, together with the Sisters. And on Monday and Tuesday we organize with the girls and boys of the St. Augustin High School a two-day cultural event: sketches, dances, songs, debates. All this because the school does not limit itself to merely technical aspects, but presents a complete "formation".
Wednesday 14th is Ashes Day: we begin our Lent on Mount Binon. A long journey of conversion and deepening of our love for God.

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