Mission. Living and Working Together.

Three young missionaries share with us their experience.

My name is Father Clement Kazaku Bosh Bebe.  After ten years in South Africa, I returned to the land of my ancestors – the Democratic Republic of the Congo, to continue being a missionary among my people. I thought everything would be easier and there wouldn’t be as many challenges as I had to face in South Africa but I found some new challenges in my native country.

I am in charge of the Comboni parish of Divine Mercy which, although it belongs to the diocese of Kisantu, is located in a suburb of the capital, Kinshasa. It is a booming area where many families from other parts of the country have settled.

In the parish, we have experienced this growth: whereas, in former times we used to celebrate two Masses on weekends, we now have to celebrate five and I think we will have to add more because the parish church is getting too small.

Although walking through the neighbourhood you can see some large houses where rich people live, most of the population lives in obvious poverty, a poverty that affects all levels of life. This is our big challenge.

When I arrived at the parish, the Christians did nothing particular apart from coming to church. Attending Sunday Mass is very important but it isn’t enough. The apostolic challenge of going out of oneself to meet the sick, the prisoners and all those who suffer, the least of our parish community, was missing. So, I decided to insist on this aspect of being an outgoing Church emphasized so much by Pope Francis.

Poverty affects the way our people live their faith. People suffer a lot and focus on meeting their temporal needs, so they turn to God to help them improve their situation, bless their marriages, give them a child, or find a job. If they receive any of these things, they immediately interpret it as a blessing from God and come to church.

This is a very superficial and dangerous view of faith because it poses the question of whether or not even those who don’t get a job are blessed by God. Faith is not a market where you give to me and I give you back. This is why a thorough evangelization that seeks Christ for who he is and not for what he does or doesn’t do is important. We are the ones who have to work to improve social conditions and get out of the structural poverty in which we live.

We recently organized three parish assemblies in which we made a general evaluation of our parish life. I was very pleased to see how the parishioners themselves realized that, in addition to prayer, the missionary aspect and social commitment were missing.

The ecclesial experience that is lived in the 14 basic ecclesial communities of the parish helps us to live the Gospel in daily life and, from there, many Christians who hear and share the Word of God have engaged in various evangelization services.

Both the leaders of the basic communities and we priests have renewed our commitment to all the parishioners to give ourselves totally and fully to the service of the people because we want to continue building an open and available community.

Sr Natingar. “The mission is shaping me”.

I am Sister Natingar Liée, a Comboni from Chad. I was 12 when I was moved by a message that the bishops of Chad had addressed to the young people of the country. In that letter, the text of the Gospel in which Jesus says: “The harvest is abundant, but the workers are few; ask the Lord of the harvest to send workers to his harvest”. This passage from the Gospel of St Luke attracted me and I decided to join the vocational group that accompanied the Comboni Missionary Sisters.

One day, a Comboni Sister gave me a book entitled: ‘A Prophet for Africa’, which spoke of the love of St. Daniel Comboni for Africa. I liked it, so I opted for religious life as a Comboni missionary. As soon as I finished high school, I started my religious training. I did my postulancy in the nearby Central African Republic and my novitiate in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

After my religious profession, I was sent to Togo, where I worked as a catechist in schools and accompanied the children in collaboration with the faithful of our parish. Then I was sent to Benin, where I also worked in schools, but this time as a teacher.

I had the opportunity to continue my studies at the Institute of Philosophy and Educational Sciences of the Salesians of Lomé (Togo), where I graduated in Philosophy and gained a Master’s in Educational Sciences, with a specialization in Planning, Management and Evaluation of Educational Projects and Policies.

After Togo, I was sent to the Democratic Republic of the Congo to work in Butembo in the North Kivu region, about 2,000 kilometres from Kinshasa. I am the principal of the primary school of San Daniele Comboni and of the school rehabilitation centre of the same name. In my apostolate, I realize that in educational accompaniment it is perhaps not so important to learn to speak pertinently as to listen closely.

When I speak, I am the centre of my discourse, but when I listen, I learn to stop being the centre and try to put myself in the place of the young person or child in front of me. In my work as a teacher, I am learning a lot from children and young people who help me to deepen my faith too because when you are with them you have to be authentic, you have to be yourself; you can’t pretend.

The mission is shaping me. I feel that our simplicity in relationships and our discretion are greatly appreciated. The same goes for our communitarian way of life. Living and working together in the name of the Lord is an essential element of our vocation.

Fr. Paul. “To grow in faith and joy”

My name is Fr Paul Schneider. I am an American-born Spanish diocesan priest. My mission is in Lagarba which is located in the region of Oromia. The distance from Lagarba to Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa is approximately 215 km.

To be honest, I never thought that the mission would be so exciting. I am involved in social projects. Since we have finished the boreholes in the schools and the rains have started, my pace of work has slowed down in terms of construction and projects, but in terms of personal relations, these have intensified, with community members from many families in the area, both Christians and Muslims.

Together with the voluntary cooperation of the people, we are planting a lot of trees, it’s the right time for it; now it’s raining and the ground is not drying out. We have planted about five thousand plants, mostly conifers and Grevilleas. We have also planted many fruit trees
at the mission.

Sometimes, I think back to why I came here and evaluate all these years in the mission. Although hardships, the missionary experience during these years had been an opportunity to grow in faith and joy.
Faith gives us many gifts, it opens doors, hearts and people. The mission can only be lived from our faith. I didn’t come here to build houses, bridges, roads and boreholes, or to plant trees. I do all that but I don’t even consider myself the author of these works, much less boast about them, even if I enjoy working and I am passionate about them. I came here to share God’s love. That is evangelization.

My presence here is to live among the poor, to be their father and their shepherd, and to contribute whatever I can to the betterment of their lives, spiritually, materially, in everything.

When you live with the people, the poor share what they have, and they also ask you to share. They ask you often, sometimes they overwhelm you; sometimes you give and sometimes you refuse, but in either case, you know that Christ asks you to renew your generosity daily, and the mission demands that you overcome your selfishness, make sacrifices and live with austerity.

After five years, I have to say that I am very happy with this life. It is the dynamic of sacrifice that is repeated every day, like the Eucharist. You are consumed, and you know that the sacrifice has an eternal purpose, that God has prepared a reward and rest for you.









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