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Thursday, November 9, 2017

Kenya and Senegal

Kenya and Senegal

These days I am traveling in order to attend a meeting of the Carmelite Superiors of francophone Africa. Friday afternoon I leave towards Nairobi with Father Saverio, our Provincial superior, to Nairobi. We arrive there in the evening. Here we are very well greeted by our Carmelite confreres. On Saturday morning, I meet Father Nicola Fogliacco member of  Consolata Missionaries. He has been here for about forty years and still at present continues teaching Theology with enthusiasm to young generations of all over Africa. I gladly see him again, also because we have common ruts coming both from the same town, Madonna delle Grazie, in the Province of Cuneo. In the afternoon, we tour the city, and on Sunday morning we are fliying  towards Dakar. And after ten hours flight finally we are in Dakar, Senegal. Here we meet with confreres of Congo, Cameroon, Madagascar, Malawi, Burkina Faso, Rwanda-Burundi and Senegal. Some Fathers came from our General House in Rome. We'll meet in the coming days to discuss and share the various experiences of our Carmelite life in many different Countries. On Monday morning, before going to our Kaolack convent, we visit a very symbolic and meaningful place: the Gorée Island. Located about 3 kilometers from Dakar, this small island (900 mt. X 300 mt.) here the ships   use to dock to take on board African slave people. Many of the houses were "slave houses" where Africans captured inside the continent, were sorted out, subdivided, weighed, and palpated as cattle, and then loaded into hundreds of ships in horrible conditions to sail for two or three months towards the Americas, where they were sold as slaves. Pope John Paul II, visiting this island in February 1992, said:
"How long is the way which the human family must walk before its members learn to love and respect each other as God's images, to finally love each other as children and daughters of the same Heavenly Father?" In the evening we arrive at Kaolack, where our French confreres have a magnificent monastery, surrounded by savannah The climate here is very hot. These are very busy days, which begin in silence in the chapel, with the liturgical celebration of the Hours, followed by the Mass. During the meetings, we share the real every day life of all districts. In many Countries (Central Africa, Congo, Burundi) the situation is very difficult, but in all areas, there is a good growth, with a large number of young people and a positive presence seeking to bring the richness of the spirituality of Carmel everywhere.

Incontro con il Cardinal Nzapalainga, arcivescovo di Bangui, p.Saverio e p.Mesmin

P.Nicola Fogliacco

la cattedrale di Nairobi

Reusrrection Garden - Nairobi

le strade di Gorée

La parrocchia dell'Isola di Gorée
la paroisse de l'Ile de Gorée

la porta attraverso la quale gli schiavi salivano sulle navi

Couvent des Carmes Déchaux de Kaolack

Saturday, November 4, 2017

No bandits!

No bandits!
No bandits this week! On Thursday, October 26th, after a very uncomfortable night still scared because of what append earlier with the bandits inside our Mission, we got up early at 5.00 am in order to go towards Bangui. I bring there the Indian Sisters of which two of them are Superiors leaving on Friday. They bare on their journey back to Sudan, Are leaving also Fathers Andrea, Lorenzo and Davide who came for the great Priesthood Ordinations. Despite a convoy trucks (escorted by the UN Peace Keepers), we did arrive in Bangui at 1.00 pm. In the afternoon and the next morning I take part to various meetings, and on Saturday morning I begin my journey back to Bozoum.
Are three weeks now that I have been traveling between Bozoum, Bangui and Bouar, and in 19 days I have been driving and driving for 4,200 km. Courage!
Between Sunday and Wednesday I am finally home in Bozoum, On Monday we have a first meeting with the teachers of our St. Augustine's Middle and High School. It is about checking how the schools are doing class by class.
Tuesday I visit the schools for refugees: 8 classes, where a variable (too variable I should say) number of students finally attends school. The number of kids goes from  210 and 400- The refugees are undecided between stayng in Bozoum or going back to Bocaranga and elsewhere .
Educational work is a must. Just in these weeks, thanks to the benefactors from USA and our brothers from Czech Republic, we are close to end building two new schools: one at Kpari and one at Konkere.

la scuola in costruzione a Kpari, e a fianco la "scuola" attuale

la scuola di Kpari... adesso!

Scuola rifugiati: guardando al futuro.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

A friar, a priest and five bandits

A friar, a priest and five bandits
We had a very emotional week! On Saturday, October 21, a young Central African Carmelite Brother Christo made the Solemn profession of his vows for all his life: chastity, poverty, and obedience.
On Friday, I move from Bozoum to Baoro, where Saturday we have had an intense time of celebration and prayer. Brother Christo was "offered" by his parents, with a traditional ritual that reminds of the offering of the son to the bride. Later, we did pray for him while he was laying down on the ground. After the consecration, Brother Christo was welcomed by a hug by all the Carmelites present, and his school and life companions too did hug him celebrating with  a dance. For this occasion were present at the celebration some Friars from Italy (the Provincial Father Saverio, Father Anastasio, Father Davide, Father Andrea Maria and Father Lorenzo), together with others Friars from Cameroon, and all the Communities of Central Africa.
In the afternoon, we went back to Bouar to get ready for a second Celebration: the consecration to the priesthood. On Sunday, three young people became deacons, and three were consecrated priests. In addition to our two young people (Brother Christo, Deacon, and Odilon Priest), there were four seminarians from the diocese of Bouar. It was the first time in 50 years that we could see so many consecrations to the Priesthood! Brother Christo and Brother Odilon entered our seminary in 2000 and 1997 (among other commitments in those years I was the Director of the Seminary): long years of journey, research, discernment and dialogs. 
The following day, Monday, Father Solomon celebrated his First Mass at the Seminary: how much joy and emotion! Wednesday afternoon, after a day in Bozoum (where the situation of refugees continues to be worrying) I went back to Bouar for some meetings.
However, at 9.00 pm they call me because there were armed men inside the Seminary. While I sent someone to try to make a phone call and ask for help, I went straight to the soccer field. There on the field there were five young men, armed with gun machines, shouting and threatening. They took the guardian with them threatening to kill him. They wanted money and the car's keys.  Along with Father Marcello we began talking, and as he continues trying to calm them out, saying them it's a nonsense what they were doing, telling them also about the presence of children, etc., I follow the more convincing bad manners saying that we will not give anything at all! While speaking we could push them to the big iron gate. One of them, completely under the drug effects, began to drool, and in the meantime, the guardian was trying to run away through the open side of the gate. We were just in time to pull him back towards us able to close the gate. The bandits remained outside. Still some shots, screams and threats, but now they are out! After a while some guys from nearby villages began arriving, armed, and after a hour or so the policemen were there with us, and the bandits did flee. Very scared but, thanks to God, no wounded and no damages.

l'ordinazione di p.Odilon

Fr Christo, diacono

da sinistra: p.Federico, p.Andrea Maria, p.Odilon, p.Lorenzo, p.Saverio

Prima Messa di p.Odilon

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Saint Teresa & Co.

Saint Teresa & Co.
 On Sunday, October 15th we did enjoy St. Teresa celebration. We Discalced Carmelites call her "the Holy Mother" because she has reformed the Carmel family. A great woman, full of love for God and for the Church, who has succeeded in establishing a new religious Family, beginning with cloister nuns and continuing with the Friars.
At Bozoum Church one of the chapels is dedicated to her, and on Sunday we celebrated Mass at that chapel. We got ready to the celebration with a triduum of prayers. The Feast was a great time of prayer and joy. The number of refugees in Bozoum remains high. Unfortunately, the situation in the North remains tense. As I was concerned, the UN Peace Keepers operation planned to "liberate" the Bocaranga area turned out to be a useless operation. The rebels have not been defeated. They simply moved a few kilometers away, going on with their criminal actions. Just
Yesterday I received testimony of acts of sexual violence made by MPC members in Nzoro, not far from Ngaundaye. Between Saturday and Monday there were two distributions for the refugees people. We could give them foods thanks to the World Food Program (WFP) together with kitchenware, blankets, mats, sheets and buckets, made available by HCR (High Commissariat for Refugees). On Tuesday, the School for Refugees began. The Study Superintendent gave us the possibility to keep open the classrooms for the afternoon schools and we started with 8 classes, and 210 students to which others will soon be added. On Tuesday morning I get up early going to Bangui, to welcome some Sisters belonging to the Indian Congregation of the Mother of Carmel. It is an important moment because they are about to open a second House in Bangui, and there are 3 sisters (Sr. Nirmal and Sr. Pradeeba from India, and Sr. Catherine from Malawi). With them there's the Vicar General Mother. On Thursday afternoon we leave driving towards Bouar, where we arrive late at night, greeted by the Yolé Seminary guys with a great party. It is a new chapter in our history. We did work with Indian Sisters for more than 25 years and, after a few months in Bouar, the Sisters will return to Bangui to work especially for girls and women promotion.

Cappella Santa Teresa
la Chapelle de Sainte Thérèse

distribuzione viveri
distribution des vivres

Distribuzione secchi, coperte, zanzariere, materiale cucina
Distribution de seaux, couvertures, moustiquières, oustensiles de cuisine

école déplacés

l'arcobaleno, segno di benevenuto per le suore indiane

Sr Grace, sr Catherine, Sr Pradeeba, Sr Nirmal