Comboni Lay Missionaries

Maria Augusta has arrived

LMC RCA

LMC RCA

The CLM Maria Augusta Pires has arrived in Janeiro de Baixo to spend part of the summer with us, like she did last year, and then return to her mission in Mongoumba.

But before getting here, she sent a message that will do us good to read:

I arrived in Bangui yesterday afternoon in order to continue my journey to you the next day. I am very grateful to Mary and to her Son Jesus who stood by my side, in the joys and sorrows of each day, and especially in the more difficult moments.

I am grateful to my entire family, to all those who prayed for me and to all the missionaries who work with me. Many thanks! I ask the Lord for peace in our country and in other countries as well that desire it so much! May Our Lady of Fatima intercede for us to bring this war to an end. May the Lord touch the hearts of those who attack the innocent and destroy everything in their path.

On Sunday, July 1, we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the parish of St. George in Mongoumba and we had 249 confirmations. Thank God we had two bishops. One was Bishop Rhino of Mbaiki and the other was auxiliary Bishop Jesús of Bangassou, who earlier had been a priest in Mongoumba. The church was packed and there were many more people outside. It was a very long celebration (it lasted almost six hours), but experienced with great joy and enthusiasm. People did not leave the church until everything was over. Local authorities and members of other Christian Churches also attended. At the end of Mass, Bishop Rhino addressed the death of a nurse who had been accused of “likundu” (witchcraft) and read the articles of the Constitution in defense of life. I hope the authorities and all the Christians listened to his words and preserved in their hearts, that we may live as brothers, as true children of God. Those who were confirmed in Mongoumba marched through the neighborhoods of the town, singing hymns and, towards evening, returned to the church to pray and sing in thanksgiving for this day. I ask God to help them be proclaimers of the Gospel, to follow Jesus faithfully and not be deceived by the many sects we have here.

The school year ended on the 27th with the publication of the results. Thanks be to God, this year they were a little better than last year’s.

Cristina has started visiting the Pygmies encampments, accompanied by Bob, to promote preventive health care, hygiene… and care for the sick since many delay going to the hospital. Very often, they only go to the hospital when they are already too ill and some end up dying. On June 8, Ana returned from her vacation fully motivated, full of energy to continue her mission. Simone and Fr. Samuel are well, while Fr. Fernando arrived yesterday with resistant malaria… He will remain at Fatima parish until August, when he will go on vacation. May the Lord help him!

I am leaving tomorrow and we will arrive in Lisbon on Thursday, July 5 at 3:35 PM. Always united in prayer.

Hugs to all from CLM Maria Augusta

– in the Astrolabio

YEAR V-#124 – July 22, 2018

The Latest News from María Augusta from her Mission in the CAR

CentroafricaThe Comboni Lay Missionary María Augusta Pires, from Janeiro de Baixo, who is stationed in the mission of Mongoumba, Republic of Central Africa, took advantage of a trip to the capital city of Bangui to send us news. Let us pray for peace in that country and for all the missionaries! We relate here the text she sent to “El Astrolabio,”the paper of her parish on May 25:

I and the members of our apostolic community are in good health, thanks be to God.

We are in Bangui to do some shopping… Ana had planned her return on the 18th, but had to delay it until June 8. In any case, we had to come to the capital because our supply room was almost empty.

On June 12 Gervelais and his father are returning from Dakar. We are grateful to the Lord because the surgery was a success. I hope he will be happy and in good health.

On May 11, a patient of the hospital was shot dead. He had been accused of “likundu” (sorcery). We are all sad because of this. We hope that justice will be done and that the killers will be caught, starting with the authorities who denied him protection… We pray to the Lord that he may help us to defend people weighed down by this curse. There have already been several cases of people who were accused, but were protected by the mission or by courageous Christians. May the Lord of life stop this from happening anymore and that all Christians may find the strength to denounce this type of violence.

On May 1, in Bangui, in our parish of Our Lady of Fatima, during Mass, 16 people died and 100 were wounded because of a rebel attack. By the end 22 died, including a priest who was concelebrating. The people of this neighborhood still live in fear of being attacked again. Pray for these people who by now are tired of suffering…

God willing, I will not come back to Bangui before my departure for Portugal, because in June I will be very busy with the evaluation of the students and the conclusion of the course. On July 4 I will live CAR and will be in Lisbon by 5:00 PM. It will be like last year. God willing, I will return to my mission in early September. Cristina is energized and keeps on learning Sango, the local language.

Let us keep united in prayer, because it gives us strength and courage. A great missionary hug, as large as the world, to Fr. Juan and Fr. Orlando and to all the faithful entrusted to you. See you soon!

With great friendship

Maria Augusta

For the “Astrolabio”

ANO V – Nº 121 – 3 de Junho de 2018

Paróquias de Cabril, Dornelas do Zêzere, Fajão, Janeiro de Baixo, Machio, Pampilhosa da Serra, Portela do Fôjo, Unhais-o-Velho e Vidual

 

Logbook of Simone from the RCA

Simone Mongoumba

Hi to everyone. How are you doing? I hope you are well. Here the rainy season has begun and, to move around, we could use Noah’s ark. When it rains in Mongoumba, everything stops (I believe the same happens throughout the RCA), the children and the teachers do not come to school, you do not see anyone around and we could sleep all day long, lulled by the sound of the rain, and think of you in Portugal, Poland, Italy, all over the world. Mission has its pros and cons.

ESPERGESIA

I was born on a day
when God was sick.

Everyone knows that I live,
that I’m evil; and they don’t know
about the December of that January.
Since I was born on a day
when God was sick.

There’s a void
in my metaphysical air
that no one must feel:
the cloister of a silence
that spoke on the edge of a fire.

I was born on a day
when God was sick.

Brother, listen, listen…
Alright. And may I not go
without bringing Decembers,
without leaving Januaries.
Since I was born on a day
when God was sick.

Everyone knows that I live,
that I chew… and they don’t know
why there’s a squeal in my verse,
the dark uncertainty of a coffin,
from polished unrolled winds of the inquisitive
Desert Sphinx.

Everyone knows… And they don’t know
that the Light is consumptive,
and the Dark fat…
And they don’t know that the mystery encapsulates
that it’s the musical
and sad hunched back that denounces from a distance
the meridian step from the boundaries to the Boundaries.

I was born a day
when God was sick,
gravely sick.

(César Vallejo)

Simone Mongoumba

In this deep, thick, foreboding, sticky, penetrating, often desolated and discomforting night that envelops the entire Republic of Central Africa, there is lightning of blinding light lasting but an instant. It is the lightning of rifles, of shooting, of grenades followed by an awesome noise… and lightning of ESPERGESIA, lightning GENERATING HOPE.

In Bangui, in the neighborhood called Kilometro 5, in the parish of Our Lady of Fatima where I spent 45 days studying Sango, on May 1, feast of St. Joseph the Worker, during Mass, there was the lightning of weapons, shooting, of weapons, of grenades. It was a well-planned attack by people who want to see the night last forever. There were 16 victims.

We immediately perceived that the rumbling of the thunder of this explosion resounded around the world (someone even wrote to us from Brazil), we have felt the warmth of your nearness. We are OK. We were not direct witnesses. They tell us that slowly the situation is getting back to “normal.” In fact, that is how it is. After the lightning of weapons we have gone back to living in an even darker night.

Simone Mongoumba

In Mongoumbua there is lightning of ESPERGESIA, lightning GENERATING HOPE, infinitesimal, but of a blinding light: our visits to the Pygmies camps; Tuesday morning with the babies of the nutrition center; Sundays in the chapels for prayer with the community, sharing a bit of cassava and some small fish caught just for us; the Thursday meetings with a vocation group; the afternoons spent to draw and color; the endless hikes surrounded by cheering children; and the little newly born Pygmies, bundles looking at you with half open little eyes, who seem to tell you: “I was born on a day when God was sick, very sick,” butif I was born in this infernal night, there is still…

ESPERGESIA

Greetings, a hug and a kiss, prayers and THANKS

Simone CLM

News of our CLM Maria Augusta from the CAR

LMC RCAI hope that all our lay people are well and that everything is moving along normally. By the grace of God, our apostolic community is doing well.

We are again in Bangui, this time to bring in a kid who has a spine problem due to bone TB, called Pott Disease, to have him undergo surgery in Dakar under Dr. Omnimus, a French orthopedist who often comes to work in Mongoumba. He will leave on the 12th accompanied by his parents. We will take him to the plane at five in the morning. We are grateful to the Lord for being able to be here accompanying Gervelais and his father.

This was a journey fraught with uncertainties. We had planned to travel on Thursday in order to do our shopping and then return to Mongoumba on the 13th, but the barge that takes us cross the river crashed on Tuesday and only started working again on Friday afternoon. At one point we thought that we would have to call some missionary in Bangui to ask them to take Gervelais and his father to the airport. Yesterday, as we were crossing the river with the barge, there was a moment when we doubted we could continue the trip because a truck could not get off and it was necessary to have it dragged off by another loaded truck. As the saying goes “man proposes and God disposes.” God does everything right! He is the one who knows what is best for us. I pray to Mary to intercede for Gervelais and ask that he may regain his health and be well!

Belvia underwent surgery, they performed a full mastectomy. Still we do not know the results of the biopsies. We hope it will not be cancer… Now she is feeling better, has finished the treatment and now she takes some medications. She is quite happy, because she had been suffering a lot… May the Lord help her.

Ana left for Poland and, according to plans, she will be back in May. May the Lord give her a good vacation.

Cristina is well and in good spirits. She started to learn Sango. She already greets people in their own language and they are very pleased. She loves the mission. May God make her be this way during her entire missionary service.

Next month, our parish will celebrate the 50th anniversary of its foundation and, God willing, we will have a great celebration.

Let us stay united in prayer.

A missionary embrace from our community to all of you.

Maria Augusta, CLM

The Night of desires

LMC RCAMarch 12, 2018

Day 388 Remaining 712

Greetings to all, how are you? I hope well… this Christmas and New Year 2018 were a little strange, spent in the heat of the Central African Republic, wearing a summer T-shirt and eating Portuguese cod… 🙂

THE NIGHT OF DESIRES

It is NIGHT here! A deep NIGHT that envelops everything! A NIGHT that is not like all the other NIGHTS, because it is a perennial NIGHT! It is NIGHT even during the day! We live in this NIGHT, in an infinite present, we live as if there was not tomorrow!

Our schools would need to be restructured because the bricks are literally eaten up by the termites and, when it rains, they get flooded, and during the NIGHT they are inhabited by bats that make your stomach turn…

Our hospital have no medical supplies, there is no food for the patients, and those who need surgery must provide everything down to the last penny…

Our roads have potholes that look like craters because of the big trucks and the rain, and the average speed on the Bangui-Mongoumba road is around 30 km/h and the trip lasts 7/8 hours…

We would need a bridge on the River Lobaye or a new ferry because the big and heavy trucks of the foreign multinationals that transport our lumber from the forest have damaged it… We would need doctors, pediatricians, teachers, instructors, university professors to take care of the new generations, instead…

…more soldiers will come!

Perhaps I am the only one who does not understand how more soldiers may help us come out of this dark and deep NIGHT in which we live!!

The new year has brought us as a gift a new military base in our diocese of Mbaiki… the bulldozer arrived, it flattened an enormous area, it quickly dug a trench, it raised great dirt barriers and behold… a beautiful, new, secure UN military base… to protect us from whom? The Lobaye is the only peaceful area in the CAR!!!

Perhaps I am the only one who does not understand how more soldiers, more arms, more armored vehicles, more resources to keep them going, can help us get out of this dark and paralyzing NIGHT in which we live! Adding the risk that our NIGHT may become even more NIGHT. We are all like acrobats walking on the wire, risking to fall again in our fears, instead of finding the courage to get out of this NIGHT that seems to be eternal!

There is no money for the schools, for health care for salaries for our teachers, for the hospitals, for repairing our roads…

…but there is money for building a new military base and pay 900 soldiers…

Perhaps I do not understand!

Someone asked me what we would have DESIRED on Christmas NIGHT… and for 2018…

…a little bit of LIGHT…

The people who walked in DARKNESS have seen a great LIGHT…

…for those who lived in the shadow of death a LIGHT has shone… (Mt 4:16)

Greetings, a hug, a kiss, a prayer and THANK YOU…

Simone, CLM