After a quite lengthy training period, three of the CLM candidates in the Province of Togo-Ghana-Benin were accepted to make their engagement. Frank Amenyo, Benjamin Amekor and Justin Nougnui were invited by the Chaplain Rev. Fr. Leopold Adanle to come for a day recollection at the Good Shepherd Catholic Church in Mafi-Kumase (Rep. of Ghana) on the 8th October, 2022. The recollection was facilitated by Rev. Fr. Achille Dansou, MCCJ in Mafi-Kumase Parish. He shared with us the theme of the World Mission Sunday proposed by the Holy Father, “You shall be my witnesses”. We had adoration in the day and also a Rosary with the Church Community of Mafi-Kumase. We ended the recollection with Sunday Eucharistic Celebration presided by the Parish Priest who is also our Chaplain.
On the 10th October, the Feast Day of St. Daniel Comboni, the MCCJ of the Province gathered at Mafi-Kumase for the occasion around the Provincial Rev. Fr. Timothée Hounake. After the profession of faith, we were called and presented to the Provincial. And before the Provincial, one after the other, we took our engagement to be CLM. We were received into the New Family. After the mass and taking of pictures, we were invited to the MCCJ gathering where we were made aware of the happenings in the Province in particular and in the Comboni Family in general. After this, we shared a family meal together with the MCCJ and our families.
We thank the Lord for the celebration. We thank the MCCJ family and our families and friends who have been with us. May we become “saint and capable” CLM.
On the 11th December, three of our members namely Wotormenyo Christian, Amekor Benjamin and Justin Nougnui started the journey to Togo. After crossing Togo-Ghana border, we headed towards Tabligbo to meet the parish priest Rev. Fr. Shane Degblor who took us to Sts Joachim and Anna catholic Church in Esse_Ana where we should reside for the experience. Our stay for three weeks helped us to enjoy our togetherness and also to go out to meet other people. We were later joined by our brother Godwin Ocloo.
A. A. Community life
We had time to pray together as CLM aspirants, eat together, plan together.
Prayer life : We had time to pray together in the morning and evening, share daily readings and mostly Sunday readings with some comments given to us by the parish priest.
Around the table: With a food prepared by ourselves or with the help of some members of the Church, we always sat at the same table for the meal. And often, the eating went in pair with discussion on our experience and also about clm life in our province.
Planning: In evening, we reflected on how best we spent the day and how best we could continue.
B. Life with the church community
The meeting held with the parish priest on the 15th December after our arrival at Esse-Ana paved the way for us in our commitment with the church community.
Prayer with the community: We had morning celebrations from Monday to Friday. With the nice organization of the Diocese of Aneho about the lay Communion Ministers, we had the grace to receive Holy Communion at daily basis with the zeal of the Fidei Custos Richard Tchitchira.
The worship was either presided over by one of us or the catechist Albert Adandjehoun.
Monday and Thursday, we prayed rosary.
Christmas festivities were very enjoyed with celebrations and entertainment by Holy Childhood and Hosevu (drum group).
Work with the church associations: A meeting held with associations’ leaders on the 12th December helped us to know the challenges some groups were facing. We tried our best to help them especially the Choir and the lectors. With morning songs learning, we equipped the choristers with some new songs. Also, we increased the number of the lectors by calling for membership.
Training on worship leading: We started a training of two members of Esse-Ana community to enable them to lead a celebration in the absence of a priest. We entrusted the two people to the catechist to continue their training.
C. Meeting with outside church world
House visitation: House visitation helped us to come across some sick people either of the church or not. We met a sub-committee of the church committee in charge of sick people to continue the visitation and plan some help to them. We also spoke to the catechist to prepare the communicants among the sick for the Sacrament of Confession so to prepare them for Holy Communion. We invited other people to join us in our celebrations.
Teaching of English language: We came to Esse-Ana some days before vacation. With this opportunity, we moved from Primary to Senior High (Lycée) passing by Junior High (Collège) to assist the English teachers in teaching English Language. Being all teachers and a fortiori having an English master, Amekor Benjamin, among us was a great advantage to teach. We invited students to church and to take up some leadership position. We had a worship with the primary school before departing and planned for other activities to continue when they resume.
D. Other station visitations
We visited other stations near Esse-Ana. By car, motor or bicycle, Christian Wotormenyo and Justin Nougnui went to Kodehoe, Tometykondji, Boevikorpe and Klohome. We helped in the sharing of the Word, preparing the choir and going round to visit some faithful who stopped coming to church. We gathered some couples at Esse-Ana with the aim to facilitate their training for Holy Matrimony.
The main challenge we came across was the absence of electricity which handicapped some of our activities. The other challenge was the means to reach stations around Esse-Ana. We reached some stations with motor(hired) and bicycle.
F. Readiness for more
This experience brought new aspects of what we did last year in Cape-Coast (Republic of Ghana) which are teaching (our profession) and going outside the main station. We have seen the need for teaching and the need to go out. We hope the subsequent experience will open the way for us to practice our profession and have time and means to reach out more stations.
Our chaplain, Rev. Fr. Leopold Adanle, in his zeal to further our formation, suggested to our group to do some days experience in Manigri, Benin. Later on, after the Provincial Council, it was agreed to go for the experience in Cape Coast, Ghana.
We had to leave our families to celebrate Christmas festivities far from our residences. Early the 21st December, 2020, Frank Amenyo and Justin Nougnui started the journey from their various areas to meet Christian Wotormenyo at Accra. From Accra, the three of us took a car for Cape Coast. Cape Coast is about 300 km from our towns. The Parish Priest, Rev. Fr. Bonaventure Gnaha came to pick us from the lorry station to our station, St. Paul Catholic Church of Akonoma. The experience was in two aspects, with the Church Community and our CLM Community.
1. Experience with the Church Community
Our service was to revive the Church of Akonoma. We moved from house to house at the quest of the church members who have stopped coming to church. None of the three of us knew Fante, the local language of the area. Two of us could say very few words in Fante. We moved with an interpreter. We had the grace to visit some aged and sick members of the church and also from Akonoma’s community. After the house visitation, we planned meetings with the various societies of the church to form and consolidate them. We enjoyed the festivities of Christmas. On the 24th, 25th, 27th, 31st December, 1st January and 3rd January which were the Christmas vigil, The Christmas day, the feast of the Holy Family, the New year vigil, the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God and the Solemnity of the Epiphany, the population at church was encouraging. The Rev. Fathers, Bonaventure, Joseph and Anthony came one after the other for the various celebrations. The 31st night, new year vigil, School of Jesus, a society of children exhibited a night performance.
2. CLM community
Monthly, we had a meeting. But for this experience, the three of us had the time to live together.
a. Prayer life
We had our daily schedule. We prayed the Laudes in the morning, read the daily Gospel with a commentary, a Life History of St. Daniel Comboni written by Bernard Ward. After the breakfast, we had our indoor or outdoor activities. At 12:30, we had lunch followed by siesta. In the afternoon we had activities, at 6:30 we prayed the Vespers, ate. Every day before the Night Prayer we reflected upon the day activities and planned for the following day.
b. Division of labour
We cooked ourselves, served the meals and washed the bowls. We fetched water ourselves sometimes, other times, the youth helped us. Each one has a responsibility, Mr. Wotormenyo the team leader, Mr. Amenyo the bursar and Mr. Nougnui the secretary.
c. Vocation promotion
We spoke about the Comboni Family in general when we met some active members of Akonoma. We laid emphasis on CLM, who they are, the requirements to be CLM, the activities of CLM. We did the same thing when we attended the parish Liturgical Committee meeting. We also took the opportunity to visit a group of Friends of Comboni at St. Paul Catholic Church of Nkanfoa. As it is now in our province, being a member of the group of Friends of Comboni is one of the requirements to aspire to CLM. We chatted with the members and encouraged them to move further to CLM. We promised to be in touch with them for the way forward.
d. The neglected
The visit from house to house showed us the reality of the neglected and the abandoned. Some aged and sick persons were a little bit forgotten. In order to continue the Caritative aspect of the Church, we created from the Church Committee the Welfare Committee. Its role is essentially to look for the sick, to find “the lost sheep” and also to assist members who are bereaved.
We are so grateful for the opportunity given to us. We thanked the Provincial Council, our Chaplain, the parish priest of St. Paul Catholic Church of Nkanfoa, the church community of Akonoma for helping us respond to our vocation. This missionary experience strengthened our faith and motivated us to continue our journey on the footsteps of St. Daniel Comboni.
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.
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