We leave here an email from Congo about the current situation in the country.
Good evening Alberto,
I did not follow up on the document I requested and I did not call you back because here the weekend of the 31st it was complicated for the Catholics because of the march of the laity against the political situation of the country.
In our parish during the 6 o’clock mass at which I participated, the soldiers entered the church at 7 am just at the time of the homily. They threw tear gas and put themselves in front of the exits of the church then shot with real ammunition. We were trapped in the church for 30 minutes. Then the priests organize themselves to keep us safe in the sacristy.
Then an hour after the priest took over the mass. We ended around 11am then we started our walk, despite the situation.
At every barrier we passed, the police tried to intimidate us with brutality to try to disperse us. When they got close, we knelt or threw to the floor and sang songs to Maria. They were trying to take part of the people and beat the group. After 45 minutes of walking, two military buses arrived, began firing tear gas and the air became unbearable. The shock was terrible. The priest stood holding the crucifix in his hand. They were heavily armed and they did not flinch. Then we prayed the Magnificat, when we finished the priest turned around and we finished the march in the parish st Charle Lowanga at 13h.
There were several wounded and some dead. I myself am wounded in the legs and therefore in medical rest since Monday.
Thank you for praying for our country, we have hope in you.
Les manifestants devant la police le 31/12/2017 à Kinshasa lors de la marche initiée par le Comité laïc de coordination (CLC). Radio Okapi/Ph. John Bompengo
We start our celebration in the Orphanage Marie of Passion at 10:00 am.
The celebration of the Eucharist was presided over by Fr Celestin Ngoré, whose homily was based on, the mission, the gift of self.
After the celebration the sister in charge of the orphanage, invites father Celestin to bless the newly built cave, so we all went to the cave for the blessing, It was a moment of grace for all.
There was a prayer organized by the CLM, we went into a circle, hands in hand praying and asking the intercession of the Holy Virgin Mary, St Daniel Comboni, Blessed Anuarite and Bakanja in union with all the Saints of Africa, to say thank you to God for the gift of CLM in Congo. We entrust our lives in the hands of the Lord, that he, who was kind enough to begin this project, may continue to be the protagonist of our mission, may He gives each one the grace necessary to carry out the mission He entrust us.
We have prayed for the international coordination of CLM’s (Central Committee), the African coordination and all of our brothers and sisters on mission. May the Lord lead us, strengthen our relationship and make us a strong family, filled with love, a way of peace and a channel of His grace for His people.
We have also prayed for the MCCJ, thanks for their total support and welcomed us into the Comboni family and for all the time they have accompanied us, like a child that they give birth, they taught us everything and despite our majority today, they do not abandon us. May God fill us with his grace and blessings.
Pray for the orphanage Mary of the Passion that receives us, may the Lord help them so that they never lack anything.
We follow with the animation and cocktail with children; followed by a guided tour of the place. We finished the event at 13:00.
Today we put the conclusions of our meeting into solid concrete steps on the way forward as Comboni Lay Missionaries working on this beautiful continent of Africa. We all have different realities within our communities. Some have found it easy to collaborate within our communities, some have found challenges. There are communities that communicate well and understand the expectations of our family and the greater Comboni community, others have just understood how it all fits together.
This meeting has closed now, but through the Holy Spirit it has opened the eyes and hearts of all of us. We are all stronger together, as one Comboni family. Our time in Anchilo has brought a continent of people all working to help expand the kingdom of God closer together. It has shown us our strengths and our weaknesses. We have put forth resolutions to make our paths more clear for all of us. These resolutions will help us all to understand deeper our vocation, our responsibilities, and the way forward in the spirit of St. Daniel Comboni.
Our meeting has brought forth the realities of our missionary vocation to the group.
We have discussed topics like communication, vocation, economics, formation and much more. Through these discussions we have found where we have met our goals, areas that we need to improve and the challenges we face in doing so.
Much like St. Daniel Comboni we have all found some difficulties in expanding the Kingdom of God. With the charism of our founder and intercessor, we find the strength to carry on in our mission and find the path to do so.
Like the palm tree bearing the coconuts fruit, it is not easy to share the sweet taste of salvation but we find the strength to climb, through our faith and our community.
The 24th of July we have started the 3rd African Continental Meeting of CLM in Anchilo, Mozambique.
We have come from all over the continent to meet as one Comboni Family to discuss and collaborate on our missionary vocation, our experiences, and our struggles following in the footsteps of our founder St. Daniel Comboni.
We ask for your prayers to the Holy Spirit to guide us through this time of community and reflection.
Hi Anna. Could you introduce yourself to the audience? Tell us about your family.Good morning father. Good morning everyone.My name is Anna Obyrtacz. I am from Krakow in Poland. I am a Christian Catholic, Comboni Lay Missionary. I am 30 years old. I am in Kinshasa since 22 January 2016. I came here to learn French. I am still in Kinshasa for a week and then I will go to the Central African Republic for the mission for two years. I will work with the Pygmies of Mongoumba. The village is located about 200 km south of Bangui, capital of the Central African Republic.
My family lives in Poland and is awaiting my return, 🙂 but I hope they come to see me one day in Africa. I was born in a family of 4 children and I am the penultimate.
My family consists of my father Jean, my mother Joséphine, my brothers and sisters. My older sister is called Kinga after she comes my brother Christoper, then me and finally my little brother Michel. My older brother is married and is a father of two children, a boy and a girl.
Is Poland a more Catholic country than Congo?
After the time I have spent here in Kinshasa, when I look at the numbers, I can say that in Congo as in Poland there are many Christians Catholic. However, we can also say that the numbers does not reflect the truth.
For me the comparison is difficult because we have not the same realities and I do not like to compare faith. Besides, I think it is not about numbers but the “quality” of our faith.
How is your lay Comboni vocation?
People say that vocation is a mystery 🙂
I think my vocation began long before I think.
When I was young, I never thought about the missions. I always wanted to live and work in Poland, my country. But today I think the work is the same everywhere in the world, also people are the same everywhere in the world.
I met the Comboni Missionaries (MCCJ) in March 2012 in Krakow in a worship that they organized for missionary martyrs. In Poland, there are two Comboni communities, one in Cracow and one in Warsaw.
I was involved in missionary pastoral meetings with students.
I am also part of the missionary movement TUCUM associated with the Comboni Missionaries in Poland who exercise their missionary activity in parishes. They are people who want to live consciously and work together. Our activities: prayer, acts of charity, promoting the mission. We have a sign of belonging to the movement that is the black ring.
I also worked with children. It was a group of children in my parish. Then I also took a group of Missionary Childhood for children of my parish in Krakow. We had meetings once a week, study the Word of God and talk about missionaries issues. We invite missionaries to our group and we also watch missionary movies. We always pray for missions.
Also did volunteer work with a Polish foundation that helps patients of hematology and oncology.
Before coming here, I was working as a specialist in the department of investments – in a public institution for the construction and maintenance of public roads.
My whole life is a time of discernment of my vocation. Fully and truly, I want to live for God, yet humanly can often waver, I know there is Someone you can always trust.
God is with me every day, in every step of my life. He has prepared for me a path, and has shown me signs. It allowed me to discover my lay identity, my missionary identity and my Comboni identity. Then He helped me make the decision for a mission. God has taken away the fear and gave me strength and confidence.
The most important moment of my vocation has been the formation in the CLM community:
Each month we had a training session to explore and discover the charism and spirituality of St. Daniel Comboni
The individual prayer (meditation)
Discernment with others
Every day I discover my vocation, for me it is a continuous process.
Why did you choose Africa, Central Africa precisely to go to mission and not elsewhere?
After discovering my CLM vocation, I have not thought any mission-place in particular. I just knew I would have to go where I may be necessary or where I can be useful, as the words of our founder, St. Daniel Comboni says “for the poorest and most abandoned”. For me the place does not matter. As for the location, it was open to what God prepared for me, because I have confidence that He will choose better than I do, God knows better than me.
As International Comboni Lay Missionaries Movement, we have several international communities in Africa: Ethiopia, Uganda, Mozambique, Central African Republic, Malawi and South America. We try to give continuity to those places where we are already serving, but we can also go elsewhere if necessary.
Choosing a place not only in terms of the profession, the preference of the person that part, but also, of course, of the need for the local church, our priority is the first evangelization and be near the poor, ensuring continuity of communities.
It is also important that the individual and coordination team in the country share the decision.
However, it had to be Africa or South America. During my training I was in Uganda for a month, this was my first experience in Africa. I think Africa has gotten my heart.
I have known the realities of our communities, and I knew that there was a need of staff in the CAR. We also talked about the difficult political situation, unstable and dangerous. In addition, I knew I had to learn French.
It was not an easy decision, I would say even difficult. I could have chosen something safer and easier. But, is it that my choice should be an easy one? Or should I go where God is calling me? We know that to do the will of God sometimes is not humanly easy. But I’m sure I have chosen the best. Therefore, as mission country, I decided to go to the Central African Republic.
What have you learned during your stay these 3 months of Congo and the Kinshasa´s church in particular?
If I came to Congo, it was to learn the language, which cost me a lot. In addition, every day I had to learn to live in another reality that I left in Poland and has sometimes it has been difficult. Why? Because now, with the Internet, we have the facility to have constant communication with my family, with my friends in Poland, so we can be close.
For me, the mission is primarily to live with people. Through the various conversations, I came to know the reality that I was sent on the mission, a reality is left to live another.
I think the future will show what I have learned in Congo and if I was a good student.
Another very important thing during my stay in Kinshasa has been learning openness to the new. Despite being very different from Poland.
What message would let to the youth and especially the African laity?
Seek the Lord in your life every day, in everything you do find out what He has prepared for you.
Young, live only God’s plan in your life because it is the best.
We know that life does not end on this earth, this is just a stage.
Be assured you are not alone. Despite suffering when you feel alone, God is always present.
Do not be afraid to live with passion and do what you love.
Another thing that my bishop told me before going to mission: “neither faith nor science, only love will help us to know and experience God”, and we have to tell the others that this is the greatest and first commandment of God. I tell everyone.
What Congolese dish do you prefer?
I love fish, especially salted fish and the pondu, especially prepared by Irene. Irene is a Comboni Laity of Kinshasa with whom I lived during my stay here.
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