Prague Arenzano Central African Republic
NEWS FROM THE SANCTUARY OF THE INFANT JESUS OF PRAGUE AND THE MISSION IN CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC
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Bu o n Nat al e
• N. 6 • N OV E M B E R - D E C E M B E R 2008 •
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Feliz Navidad Frohe Weinachtenl stmas Krás i r h né yC
B I M O N T H LY P E R I O D I C A L
“Poste Italiane S.p.A. - Sped. Abb. Post. - D. L. 353/2003 - conv. in L. 27/02/2004 n. 46 art. 1, comma 2, DBC Genova” • IMPRIMÉ À TAXE REDUITE - TAXE PERÇUE - TASSA RISCOSSA • GENOVA - ITALIE
GENOA DISCALCED CARMELITE PROVINCE
Missionary Friendship Prague, November 13, 2008
I would like to send all of you wishes full of peace and joy that evoke contemplation over the mystery about Christmas in our hearts. St. Jerome decided to live in Bethlehem so that he could relish this joy. St. Bernard tirelessly praised the birth of Jesus. St. Francis wanted to revive the mystery of Bethlehem in Greccio. St. Teresa of Avila composed so many beautiful holy Christmas hymns and she wished for the Infant Jesus statue to reign in all of her convents. A faithful successor of this saint, Fr. Cyril, made a centre out of Prague from where the smile and love of Infant Jesus radiate into the world and are handed over to all our loved ones.We contemplated this topic in Arenzano on October 18th of this year during our annual meeting with the mission’s friends. Our incentive was the Mission for the International Missionary Day 2008 where the Pope declared that: “mission is a question of love”; missionary activity is the answer to God’s love. God loves us and He’s leading us to spread His spiritual energy that in a family of people can strengthen harmony, justice and sociability among people, races and nations, and we are all making an effort to do that. He’s challenging spreaders of the Gospel to quench their thirst at this primary spring. Because it is only from this source that we can draw attention, tenderness, empathy, amiability, interest in people’s problems and other honours that preachers of the Gospel must have in order to leave everything and fully and unconditionally devote themselves to spreading Christ’s love in the world. Only love can redeem the world. At 10 p.m. on Thursday, October 16th, I was supposed to fly from Bangui to Prague where I was scheduled to arrive on October 17th in the morning and in the evening on that same day depart again for Genoa. However, in Bangui after sitting in the airplane for two hours there was an announcement that due to serious technical difficulties the flight was going to be delayed until the next day. Regardless, I managed to arrive in Genoa in the evening on October 17th. I spent Saturday, October 18th in Arenzano where I participated in our missionary meeting that went very well. We celebrated the Eucharist that was livened up by the contemplation over the Pope’s mission. We viewed a movie that was filmed by my co-worker Fr. Davide, which documented the news from the mission that he recently visited. On Sunday, October 19th I was already back in Prague welcoming pilgrims in our church and I celebrated a mass in French at 5 p.m. although the faithful came from South America, Ireland, Germany, Poland… Unfortunately, we are
O Bangui-Carmel, October 15 2008: Concelebrants the Mass for the Feast of St. Teresa; Fr. Costantin (right) and Fr. Stefano (left).
feeling the consequences here caused by the Tower of Babel but we are doing our best to have as little chaos as possible. Following are some pieces of news from my last trip to the mission. On Friday, September 26th I was in the Carmel in Bangui. On September 28th, I participated in the celebration of St. Archangel Michael in Bozoum where the church was so full that many people had to stand outside in front of the church. I spent Monday and Tuesday visiting Baoro and Bouar-Yole, where our seminary is full of activities and filled with hope. I spoke with the Sisters of CMC; not too long ago I spent some beautiful moments with their fellow Sisters in Vikundi - Dar El Sala in Tanzania. The life in Carmel in Bangui is quite lively at the moment. In addition to three Fathers, one student on an internship is staying there as well as two novices and four postulants. The prior, Fr. Stefano is devoting a lot of time to youth; he is introducing them to Christian life and the life in Carmel. I was delighted by his approach to altar boys who are from six to twelve years old and who participate in a holy mass every day at 6:15 a.m. in order to get one notebook as a gift. St. Augustine used to say: “When you want to entice children, give them a walnut.” At the end of the Eucharist one novice takes attendance; then we all say together our Carmelite invocations: O God, who is the source of all holy…” I am touched when I hear sixyear old Kim repeating: “You have called us to live like Christ, a life of loyalty, poverty and obedience.” And also to hear all the others as they repeat together prayer and invoke St. Teresa as a mother and St. John of the Cross as a father. In conclusion we all ask the Lord together to support a calling to the Church and to the Carmelite Order. I am encouraging Fr. Stefano to continue this way. It is not possible for the Lord not to hear the voices of these little boys. The Carmel in Bangui serves as a branch of the seminary in Yole: these boys are truly lovely and they radiate the beauty of God’s sons. One of them, whom I have never seen before, took my hand when I was standing among them and just looked at me expressively. Fr. Stefano does not focus his work only on children; he has also undertaken spiritual leadership of young fellows between the ages 15 and 18. I had the pleasure to meet with them and acknowledge their effort, which gave them encouragement for further development. Fr. Stefano introduced me and recalled our first meeting in the shrine in Arenzano in the 1970’s when he was 11 years old; he consequently decided to enter the seminary after three formation meetings. The holy mass at 8:15 a.m. on Sunday, October 12th was accompanied by heavy rain. The ceremony had to be adapted to the circumstances and Fr. Stefan nearly lost his voice when he was reading the gospel as laud as he could. He skipped the sermon, which he then gave at the end of the service after the rain stopped drumming into the flat roof. Also the singing was accompanied by the beating of the rain, which did not manage to out thunder the tom-tom rhythms however. On October 15th, the Carmel celebrated the Feast of St. Teresa of Avila. Members of religious families from Bangui participated in the ceremonious mass that took place in the afternoon. Fr. Constantine gave a 45 minute long sermon but thanks to his cheerful expressions the time flew by. Here in Prague, we are continuing with the construction of a new convent. The winter has arrived and we are reminded of this every day as the door on the ground floor has to be often opened due to the ongoing construction: during Christmas Infant Jesus will warm up our hearts with His love! I am sending heartfelt greetings with blessings from Infant Jesus together with a wish of beautiful Christmas holidays and a happy New Year. Sincerely,
Missionary Friendship O Prague: The Infant Jesus of Prague and Our Lady Victorious Church. The Prague Castle in the background.
July 10, 2008 • Sardinia (Italy). “A group from the ‘Spirito Santo’ di Selargius parish that is led by the vicar Mons. Salvatore Scalas wanted to celebrate a Holy mass in the shrine of Infant Jesus of Prague during their short visit to Prague. It was an opportunity to meet with the dear Fathers and especially with Christ whom they have dedicated their lives to.” Enrico Murgia
July 4, 2008 • From Andretta (AV - Italy). “We are a group of altar boys from the Andretta and S. Martino V. parishes in Cairano (AV). We have come to Prague on a trip as a reward to the young fellows who are serving at the altar in two villages where I am a priest. We entrust all of our intentions to Infant Jesus and the love of God; and we entrust our lives and our future to the almighty Holy Spirit. And we wish to always follow the plan of the Highest.” In Jesus Christ, priest Francesco Martino
July 13, 2008 • Pilgrimage of a group from the Philippines: Mr. and Mrs. Ernesto and Aurora de Jesus from Ohio (USA), Mr. and Mrs. Gregorio and Jane Honasan (Phillippines), Gregorio Devillo, Leila Lason (Montreal, Canada), Mrs. Cherry Rivera (Vienna, Austria).
July 20, 2008 • Ireland. “In June 2006 I was diagnosed with a brain tumour and was given 18 months to live. My family came here to pray to Infant Jesus. Now I am completely cured and I am truly grateful because the possibility of healing was highly unlikely and now I am able to enjoy life with my family together with my two sons. It is a miracle that I was able to come here and thank.” Ray and Denise Lynch - Tralee (Co)
ONE ASSOCIATION, ONE FOUNDATION
1 + 1 + 80
…a true miracle in agr
ince the first years of our Carmelite mission, established in the year 1971, we have been working not only in the field of evangelization but also in the area of individual development according to the Gospel and according to Christian love. We have been making great effort in the area of land cultivation with the help of bulls, ploughs and carriages, fish breeding, fertilization and introducing the growing of new produce - for example potatoes. Progress was going very slowly and often only for one season; I realized that this type of activity became stagnant throughout the years … until Father Aurelio Gazzera, who is also the diocese Charity superior, managed to greatly activate the agricultural work, although rebellious soldiers attacked Bozoum in the year 2003. Fr. Aurelio was able to start up the so-called „groupements“ - organizing individuals into groups for the purpose of working in the fields and growing fruits and vegetables. Since the year 2005 an association from Como “Central African Friends”, also thanks to significant support from the CARIPLO FOUNDATION, have been supporting these local groups in training, publicity and further development of their activities. And that was the beginning of a program that several workers are devoting their time to by regularly organizing trainings for the „groupements“ in agricultural as well as organizational topics, in order for the locals to realize the value of diligent work, money well-spent, the spirit of the activity, and so that they would be able to recognize what type of soil is suitable for various fruits or vegetables that are later sold on the market. There are approximately “When a person 400 groups with over 9000 dreams alone, members. his dreamwill stay
only a dream, but when more people have a common dream, then the dream can come true”. A Brazilian saying
AGRICULTURAL EXHIBITION The “Groupements“ have been very successful at the four agricultural exhibitions that have been taking place since the year 2004 until
now. The exhibition has three goals: to exhibit products, to show the worthiness and economic value of agricultural work and to sell products. Important official representatives have been attending the exhibitions including ministers, French ambassador, and representatives from the European Union, Charities, FAO and other ONG. The total turnover of the exhibitions amounted to: • Year 2004: 3 million Franks SAR (4,500 €) • Year 2006: 5 million Franks SAR (7,500 €) • Year 2007: 7,5 million Franks SAR (11,250 €) • Year 2008: 11 million Franks SAR (16,500 €). If we take into consideration the fact that the average yearly income in this country is around 200 €, we realize the significance of these numbers! In the year 2009, the exhibition will take place on January 17-18.
RICE It is necessary to mention the Centre for rice growing. When everything was beginning in the 1970’s during the time of the emperor Bokassa, the Chinese built here a dam and a large warehouse with a pealing machine. After their withdrawal, the local agriculturalists continued to cultivate the rice fields but with worse equipment. Moreover, as a result of heavy rains part of the reservoir broke and there was lack of water for irrigation of rice fields. The worst thing that happened was when during the civil war in the year 2003 the soldiers stole the pealing Bozoum, November 3, 2008 - Fr. Carlo machine. is showing rice seedlings to Giuseppe Consoli.
N AND 80 COOPERATIONS IN BOZOUM
0 = 1 6.500
Bozoum, November 4, 2008 - Fr. Aurelio, Fr. Carlo and Giuseppe Consoli in the rice warehouse created in the Centre for rice growing in Bozoum.
enriched by a new warehouse in the centre of Bozoum, which serves for rice peeling and for sale in the city. The results are obvious: • It is the first new building in Bozoum in many years! • It is a “business” type centre that is well managed by Central Africans! • It guarantees sales, which encourages many people to enter the Groupements and start growing rice - the rice fields in Bozoum are growing! The sale of rice is a guaranteed business; the price is slightly lower than the imported rice, including the imported rice from the neighbouring Cameroon. This way the “DOC” rice rights are protected, truly domestic rice, which is fully competitive on the market.
BULLS AND A PLOUGH
After this incident, Father Aurelio’s initiative came at the Thanks to the support of the cooperation “Parmigiano di nick of time; he managed to equip the warehouse with a Reggio Emilia” we were able to buy 38 pairs of bulls for land new pealing machine and supply the producers with sevploughing. It is an incredible thing that can give people coureral pairs of bulls. He even managed to repair the reservoir age and confidence. “Amici del Centrafrica“ society with the although not quite perfectly. The work on the rice fields support of the Cariplo Foundation carried this project to an was renewed. We can highlight this data: end. It will continue to have positive consequences because • In the year 2006 we cultivated the project includes education, train70.88 hectares of land and harvested ing and culture. The Central African 135.11 tons of rice. Republic’s Ministry of Agriculture is • In the year 2007 the number observing with great interest what of hectares of cultivated land dewe are doing Bozoum and it wants creased to 47.68 hectares due to to partake in the 2009 exhibition! It the appearance of bandits and the is a vital event that requires solidarpoor functioning of the reservoir; ity from private subjects, banks as therefore the harvest was only 93 well as European Union’s charity tons of rice. organizations. • In the year 2008 we cultivated FR. CARLO CENCIO and missionaries from Bozoum 76 hectares of land and harvested 148 tons of rice to date, we’re expecting the total amount to reach 152 tons. The Centre for rice growing has around 80 members not counting women and children. We are growing 7 different grades of rice. This year Bozoum, November 4, 2008 we even tested several varieties of The rice is poured in the peeling machine to clean the seeds. Italian rice. Recently the project was
Mother Edward’s thanks of the inauguration of an The painting of the Fr. Leopoldo Beccaro
Dar El Salam Vikundi, August 15, 2008
he Lord gave us this day. Let us rejoice with the Almighty God.” I would like to thank everyone from the bottom of my heart for attending the inauguration of African Region ceremony. It is with great pleasure that I thank His highness archbishop Joseph Chennoth, the Apostolic Nuncio in Tanzania for being here with us: we are certain that it is the work of providence that you are here with us today to give a blessing to this humble beginning. I am taking this opportunity to thank the honourable Fr. Anastasio, Fr. Caesarius and all the fathers for undertaking this long trip to help us thank the Lord here. The presence of Fr. Caesarius CMI and the Italian missionary Fr. Anastasio OCD reminds us of our founding Fathers, the blessed Father Ciriaco Chavara and Fr. Leopoldo Beccaro. We are very honoured that Fr. Anastasio OCD, a delegate from the province of our beloved founding Father, accepted our invitation and travelled from Prague in order to participate in this ceremony. We would like to thank him from the bottom of our hearts. Dear Sisters and Brothers, at this moment my humble request is the following: give a blessing please to our new Region through your precious prayers, your support and your valuable advice so that our dreams can become reality. Music resounds in my heart and a song spouts from my lips because such a beautiful and long anticipated moment has arrived. A dream that has been nursed for a long time
Dar el Salam, August 15, 2008 The Sisters as they are leaving from the provincial house CMC to the ceremony in Vikundi.
Vikundi, August 15, 2008 - The garden of the noviciate.
has become reality. And the hearts of all our Sisters CMC are filled with joy and gratitude to the Almighty. I think that together with us all of nature is rejoicing and praising God for the great and beautiful blessing that He granted us. We thank God, our Almighty Lord for guiding us here so that we can be witnesses of this great and glorious moment in the history of CMC Chavara Region in Africa. The missionary activities on this continent have today become the decisive point with the founding of this new Region. It is our wish that with God’s will everything will be well led and grow strong. It is certainly a new beginning, a fresh step in spreading the good news with greater strength and hope for the future. Only three years ago when the International meeting of youth in Cologne was coming to an end, Pope Benedikt XVI. said: “He who discovered God must lead others to Him as well. We cannot keep this great joy to ourselves. We have to Vikundi, August 15, 2008 . The garden share it with others.” I think and the orchard of the noviciate. it is new perception of what the Lord had said: “Go and spread the good news all over the world.” We all know our church that has a missionary character: the church must spread the good news everywhere and to everyone without distinction. Missionary fever is nothing else than a meeting with Christ.
at the occasion African Region Vikundi, August 15, 2008 - The CMC noviciate house, the entrance.
Vikundi, August 15, 2008 - J.E. Mons. Joseph Chennoth, Apostolic nuncio in Tanzania.
Thirty-one years ago Sisters CMC for the first time stepped on this fertile African land. During this occasion I remember all of the Sisters that generously gave in order to help the growth of the church. God blessed us with the number of girls from this fertile land who found a vocation and we hope that many other African girls will join us in order for us to create God’s kingdom here. As St. Teresa of Avila said: “Only with your hands God can perform his work … only with your eyes can God’s empathy light up the world in difficulty.” So dear Brothers and dear Sisters in a moment of inauguration of this Region, God is calling every one of us to become His hands, eyes and ears so that we can pass over this message of love to the whole world. Together with the “Little flower”, St. Teresa of Child Jesus, we are repeating: “In the heart of the church I will be love.”
And now the most sincere congratulations and wishes joined in prayers go to the newly elected: regional superior Sister Rita Jose, the councillors Sister Lisieux and Sister Dhanya, the economist Sister Siji and the secretary Sister Poriya Rose, as well as to all other Sisters that are partaking in the missionary activities. Dear Sisters, at this moment that has such a fundamental meaning for the CMC history, I would like to wish you to keep in your hearts your desires that are the rich heritage of your souls and a track for you to follow. There is no better cure than hope; there is no stronger encouragement than the expectation of something better. May your hopes lead you and give you strength in the mission. A moment like this one calls for a strong spirit, a big heart, sincere faith and prepared hands. Stay strong and persevere until the end of your calling; have faith in God: “Some are planting what others are irrigating, but it is God who decides what will grow.” Stay with the Lord and believe in His power. Once again I would like to wish you all the best and I congratulate you! MOTHER EDWARD
The painting of the blessed Chavara and Fr. Leopoldo Beccaro.
Vikundi, August 15, 2008 Fr. Anastasio hands over the statue of Infant Jesus of Prague to the General Mother Superior Sister Edward.
NOTES TAKEN ON THE TRIP FROM THE COUNTRY “FOSILIZED” IN POVERTY
The beauty of a mission People with so much enthusiasm, which is so contagious Baoro, Central African Republic, November 11, 2008
would like to carry you to the centre of the smiling children and the joyful mix of dances, games and song in the Sango language, an amiable language that is made up of short sounds and every one of them has thousands of meanings… I would like to show you the huge green area with “spots” of red soil in the vast Central African tableland… Basically I would like for the friends of the mission to get to know the real life of those who although they do not own anything in this world, they have their own value, which must be protected … The repeated visit of our mission evokes two different feelings in me: a joy from the missionary work that continues to grow to a beauty, and pain from being face to face to the ever-so tangible poverty. It has only been six months since my last stay in the Central African Republic but nevertheless I am seeing around me more and more orphaned children. When I walked through the streets of the capital city at night, my heart gripped in pain when I saw children called “godobé“ sleeping on the ground by the side of the road… This occurrence is seen more and more often, which was not
the case several years ago… The country has been “stagnant” for some time now as if fossilized in poverty. I found out at the market that a can of sardines costs the same as it did seven years ago (450 Franks SAR) when I came to the Central African Republic for the first time. Life expenses have not changed, which is an attestation of very low economical development index. Even here there are now more brick buildings and computers than before but perhaps people need more than anything to work. Nevertheless I notice some positive signs on my way through the villages that are located on the transAfrican road: life is back in the many villages that had been abandoned the last time I was here because their inhabitants escaped to the savannah afraid of the violence from the bandits “zaraguinas“. So if some villages looked like “ghost towns” in the past, it is not the case anymore. Furthermore, in churches where we are spreading God’s Word, in the missionary schools as well as at the new wells that we have dug out this year we see people with so much enthusiasm that is very contagious. I am carrying inside of me one picture as if it had been engraved in my soul. It was a vision that came from the heart: I saw a mother holding a small child and it was as if I had seen them both in the arms of Christ. I truly believe that the mission is in His hands: He is leading it and protecting it from above. Knowing this we can work with a newly gained enthusiasm. “If we thought less about how to be better off and more about doing good deeds, ultimately we would be better off,” wrote Manzoni in his book “I Promessi Sposi”. So many good deeds have not been done yet so let us do them! Father DAVIDE
O Bozoum, November 5, 2008 Fr. Davide with orphans from the centre “Arc en ciel“.
Interview of the International Missionary Service News Agency at Father Aurelio
CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC 19/11/2008
NEGOTIATORS ARE TRYING TO HOLD DIALOGUE IN THE REBELLIOUS AREAS “Since the new law about amnesty has come into effect, which is targeted to rebellious groups, president François Bozizé is sending members of his government to various parts of the country for a series of meetings with the rebellious leaders or with the local population. The fact that the government is concerned with people from the border areas, that it is putting emphasis on dialogue and that it is rendering concrete signals of good will, is a certain direction that has not been seen here before and that is undoubtedly significant”, said on MISNA Father Aurelio Gazzera, a Carmelite missionary who is working in the city of Bozoum (North-East). According to a source from MISNA, the minister of internal affairs was invited to the Kaga Bandoro area (245 km North from the capital city Bangui), another high government agent arrived in Kabo on the boarder with Chad, while the former minister for parliament contact and the current presidential advisor Mbanho Stanislas visited the Ouham Pende area with the accompaniment of several Catholic missionaries. “This man,” added Father Gazzera, “arrived in Bozoum last Tuesday and was heading to the near Bocaranga, to Ndim and to Ngaundaye, as well as to villages in Bang and Mann that are the bases for the rebels. Stanislas met with lo-
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cal office representatives and residents in order to get better acquainted with their difficulties and needs. “That is quite an extraordinary situation,” concluded the Carmelite missionary, “and the local people really appreciated that someone from the government actually visited them.” Recently the chairman of the African Federation commission Jean Ping convicted a deliberate assault of an army colony by the rebels from the Democratic front of the Central African people (Fdpc) in the Kabo area, during which nine soldiers died and two civilians; he asked for the respect of the General peace agreement that the participating sides of the conflict signed. Ping also challenged the Economic Community of Central African countries and the Community of Sahel and Sahary states (Cen-sad) to use their influence in the sense that all actors of the internal Central African life engaged in “a resolute form in the ongoing political process in a constructive spirit leading to dialogue.” Various local missionary sources reported to MISNA that safety in the country has improved, fights occur less often and that the groups of bandits that have been terrorizing some of the bordering parts of the country, are gradually falling apart. [GB]
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Carmelite Brothers in a fight against poverty
FROM A DISTANCE FOR EDUCATION AND LITERACY
hat is the value of a beautiful smile? It captivated me on the faces of the children in Bozoum and Baoro where it is difficult to survive on 90 cents (EUR) per day, which is the estimated daily income per person in the Central African Republic! We, Carmelite missionary Brothers have this year provided schools here in 30 villages for over 4000 children, but only 800 of them have been adopted (long distance). The situation in the country is pitiful… 55% of the population cannot read or write. The goal of this initiative is to provide information about the life conditions of these children and to support their education, which is the basic assumption for development, by covering the expenses for the government fee for enrolling into school that the families are not able to pay, as well as notebooks and books that the missionaries are printing and buying, but also health care, food and clothing where the missionary Father finds it necessary. In reality the entire village community get a benefit from your support and for that reason we ask that you do not limit your goodwill to only “adoptive’ children, but to spread your love and pray for the missions - that is how your help will gain greater value.
“How much does it cost?” You cannot put a price on life: let us give them a chance! For 150 € per year you can support a child to go to elementary school. For 500 € per year you will cover life expenses and education of a seminarian who lives in our Seminary of Child Jesus in Yole-Bouar. Down there where the green of the savannah is nestling in the arms of nature, the experience of missionary life will spark new feelings and will encourage us to try to help the poor in some way. God bless, protect in Your heart and reward those who give with joy!
“Are we certain that …?” The missionary Father is a guarantee of the good usage of the sent help. “For how long?” “Long distance adoption” is a long-term matter but it is possible to discontinue your support any time you wish. “How to start?” You simply make your first contribution and provide an address where the missionary Father will send personal data and a picture of the child. You will receive new information every year in addition to that our magazine, the Missionary Friendship gives fresh news about the missions’ activities. Closer contacts are not possible because the adopted children live in villages without electricity, telephones or post offices.
Responsible manager: P. Anastasio Roggero - BOSI KARMELITANI - KARMELITSKA 9 - 118 00 PRAHA 1 - REPUBLIKA CESKA Tel. (00420) 2 57 53 36 46 • Fax (00420) 2 57 53 03 70 - firstname.lastname@example.org • www.pragjesu.info Pubblicazione non commerciale di informazione religiosa e di promozione sociale • Autorizzazione del Tribunale di Genova N. 45 del 23 Dicembre 1991 • Grafiche Fassicomo Genova