Chad is a secular state. However, religion has an important place in the country either at the individual or at collective level. Traditional religions (about 10% of the population) is in the central and southern parts of the country, particularly in the Mayo-Kebbi East regions and Mayo-Kebbi West.
They are the oldest faiths in the country. Islam, which entered Chad through the Kanem (Central Region between Chad and Niger) around the year 1000, now comprises just over half of the population (about 55% of the population). Christianity (about 15% of the population) has been permanently present in Chad since the beginning of the colonial period. History nevertheless says that as in many countries in sub-Saharan Africa, Chad also had been visited by Portuguese religious congregations in the sixteenth century. These religious who were more chaplains to the merchants and explorers did not care much about the conversion of the local populations they encountered. The first Christian missionaries to arrive in Chad were pastors of the Fraternal Lutheran mission in 1920.
Chad was the last territory in Central Africa region to welcome the Catholic Church, arrived in Gabon in 1844, Anglo-Egyptian Sudan in 1846, Congo Brazzaville in 1887, Cameroon in 1890 and Bangui in 1892. Fr. Jean-Rene Calloc'h, a religious of the Holy Spirit, arrived in scouting at Fort Archambault (Sarh) to study the possibilities of starting a mission. But according to some sources, M. Maigniez, the French Commander, did not give him permission to remain there. Not discouraged, the Apostolic Prefect, Bishop Grandin, then sent Father Gabriel Herriau, from 13 August to 8 October 1928, to travel south of Chad in search of a suitable point to begin Catholic missionary activity In Chad. From then on, the evangelization of Chad gained momentum with the participation of other institutes such as the missionaries of the Sacred Heart (Dehonians), the Capuchins, the Jesuits already present in Chad since 1935. In 1951 the Congregation for the 'Evangelization of the Peoples asks the Oblates of Mary Immaculate to take care of the Mayo-Kebb.
The Catholic Church in Chad is divided into eight geographical entities; A metropolitan archdiocese and its seven suffragating jurisdictions:
- The Metropolitan Archdiocese of N'Djamena
- The diocese of Moundou,
- The Diocese of Sarh,
- The diocese of Pala,
- The diocese of Doba,
- The diocese of Laï,
- The diocese of Goré,
- The Apostolic Vicariate of Mongo.
In his book
Cinquante ans de la vie de l’Église catholique au Tchad, Épreuves et espérance , , Charles Vandame (Archbishop Emeritus of Djaména) attests that the first female religious to arrive in Chad are the sisters of Our Lady of the Apostles (OLA) And the Missionary Sisters of Saint Teresa.
OLA Sisters, Agathe Divay (deceased in 1989) and Marie LAUBERCHER (deceased in 2010) were the first religious in Chad in 1947 in Sarh and in 1948 in N'Djamena. They were sent by the congregation in response to the invitation of the Jesuit Fathers, in particular Father Charles Margot, rector of the Jesuit College (Ste. Famille) in Cairo who in 1946 was appointed superior of the new Jesuit mission in Chad. Having experienced the missionary devotion of the OLA sisters, their total commitment for the total development of families, especially children, girls and women in Egypt, found the sisters indispensable partners for the mission of effective evangelization of the territory of Fort Lamy (N'Djamena). According to Jacques Hallaires in his book,
Naissance d’une Eglise Africaine, lettres et chroniques du pays sar, Tchad (1952-1989) , Paris Karthala 1998, the sisters and Jesuits had arrived together for the inauguration of Fort Lamy. (p .10)
Since their arrival in Chad 70 years ago, the OLA sisters have witnessed the love of God to the Chadian population through family visits, the education of children and girls, Health centers ... The choice to live in neighborhoods by adopting a simple lifestyle of the local population were concrete signs of the presence of God who does not differentiate between peoples whatever their ethnic and cultural background. The sisters were from different cultures. The sisters were young, elderly, they gave themselves without reserve and the gift of self continues audaciously even after the assassination of Sister Christiane Philippon (French) The night of December 25 to 26, 2004.
One of the greatest contributions of the OLA sisters in Chad which deserves special mention is the sharing of the charism of the religious life with the local Church through the profession of religious vows of Chadian girls. The first Chadian religious,Sister Marie Colette Djamila MANY (October 20, 1930 - October 28, 2016. Today the eldest of the 11 sisters OLA Chadian religious is Sr. Marie-Cécile Soraya MANY younger sister of Marie-Colette.
According to Sr. Emiliene Soubeiga (Regional Superior OLA, Chad) in an interview with SMA Media Center, Lyon on February 18 the number of OLA communities is currently three (3). The latest statics published in the OLA newsletter, Province of Afrique Francophone
La Nouvelle number 77 of November 2014 gives the number of sisters OLA in Chad to
twelve (12) sisters, waiting for the 13th which is en route. As in other times, the NDA sisters are investing their strengths in pastoral care, health care, education, women's promotion and reception of the 13th . In Sarh the sisters are devoted to the service of people living with HIV and N'Djamena have set up an effective medical structure for the care of malnourished children.
As for collaboration between the Society of African Missions (SMA) and the OLA sisters in Chad, this could only be impossible since the SMA missionaries were not present in Chad. The closest SMA communities are those in Northern Nigeria that were either Irish or English. There are also SMA communities in Niger and in the Central African Republic. In the past few years, the collaboration which, with the example of Sister Teresa Blanc, was timidly informal through occasional visits of the SMA fathers, each time the OLA sisters were in Bangui, took on a larger dimension, not with the SMAs of RCA, but those on the other side of the river in the Democratic Republic of Congo. According to Sr. Soubeiga, collaboration is possible in the area of vocational animation. In their work of vocational animation, the SMA fathers do not forget to talk about their OLA sisters to young girls who are thinking of becoming missionaries. Today, there is an OLA Congolese sister. OLA sisters from Chad visit Kinshasa for vocations. Although far away, Sister Soubeiga sees in this animation an effective mean of collaboration between our two institutes.
Papou Joli, sma