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Welcome to this presentation of the SMA International news.

We begin with Egypt, with the celebration of Christmas at the Cathedral of Saint Mark, Shubra.

Then we go to Angola to get an understanding of the SMA preparatory year.

And then we go to Tanzania where the Inter-congregational Ongoing Formation program has begun.

EGYPT

First, we go to Egypt where the Coptic Church as usual celebrated the feast of Christmas on January the 7th. In the small few Christian communities, this festivity despite the restrictions of the covid-19 was an opportunity for reunion and sharing. Such was the case with the Cathedral community of Saint Mark of Shubra. A parish entrusted to the SMA.

Beautifully decorated altar, splendidly illuminated Christmas trees, an imposing nativity scene, and a community, reduced to 40 percent of its normal capacity due to the safety measures put in place, is the setting in which the community of Saint Marc Cathedral Shubra celebrated the Christmas.

This reality has not however taken away the joy of this community in welcoming its Christ and Lord who gives himself to it.

This year at St Mark’s parish in Shubra, we had the chance to celebrate the feast of Christmas while observing the safety measures that are now everywhere. It was marked by the restrictions and measures put in place by the government for celebrations and holidays. and it went well. Of course, not with the same feelings because everyone is afraid of covid-19; but at least we came to church to give thanks to the Lord for the feast of Christmas, the feast of the birth of Jesus Christ. And that, not only in the parish, but also in the school, our school for handicapped children where we have a particular pastoral care for these children; it was also good. We also organized a Christmas bazar, and a Christmas carols which was very good, and gave the opportunity to the children to express their talents and gifts as children with disabilities.

Physically challenged children, often rejected and marginalized, to whom the magic of Christmas gave a smile, through the pastoral care of the priests of the cathedral of Saint Marc, Shubra.

ANGOLA

The SMA Preparatory Year in Angola, which started on 6th of January 2018 following a decision by the members of the delegation at that time to have the program. However, due to Covid-19, the program activities are now suspended. The Seminarians who had been staying at the house now returned to their homes and await until the situation improves.

With this cock crow, begins a new day in the SMA house of formation in…, Angola, which was inaugurated in 2018. It is a propaedeutic house where young men discerning their vocation to the missionary life with the SMA are introduced into the life of society. After here they move to various diocesan seminaries where they study philosophy before leaving for the international spiritual house, at Calavi, Benin. Being a Portuguese speaking country, the major challenge for the students is the learning of English and French, the two official languages of the Ssociety. But by means of regular language courses efforts are made for them to learn these languages. Due to the worldwide pandemic a majority of them are at home, and unable to go on with their studies. The students are however are very happy with the SMA formation.

What captivated me to join the SMA is the simplicity of the congregation, the way they work, the charism of the Ssociety, to be with the abandoned, to be in areas of primary evangelization, this touched me a lot.

What motivated me to love the SMA is the primary evangelization. Like here in Angola, we have the experience in Nabongo and I love the experiences. I hope that one day I will be such a missionary.

Today we officially have sixteen seminarians. Many young men want to have a missionary experience with the SMA. We have a seminarian in theology at Anyama; and he is immediately followed by someone in stage, in Togo. We are six seminarians studying philosophy in Malanje, and we have two who have done with philosophy and waiting for the next stage

TANZANIA

the Inter-congregational Ongoing Formation program has started since January. The program this year has seventeen participants and three facilitators; and welcomes people from Africa and other parts of the world

The idea of having a joint ongoing formation program was seen as a need for some time and then in 2015 the decision was taken by Superiors General of some Congregations and Societies to launch the program. The first English speaking session took place in Bagamyo, Tanzania in June-July 2016.

Initially participants came from the missionary members of the founding groups. Then later it was seen as important to invite local diocesan priests and religious as well. Today the numbers attending are coming for all these groups.

We thank God – everything is going well. We started with a capacitar programme and after …   that now after being relaxed physically – now we have entered some deeper areas of our ongoing formation.

The overall session is now for 6 months with the option for some participants to join for specific sections as well. There are 3 facilitators as well as others who are invited to guide different parts or themes of the program. Presently the current session has started and there are 17 participants attending the six months program, which is hosted at Tengeru, Arusha in Tanzania

The ICOF course it brings a person more to God because of these lectures. We are from six different countries – now we are together, so we are learning many things from each other

It really is helping me, first of all to get in touch with myself, with those around me and also growing spiritually.

I am very happy, it’s a programme I pray that it may continue to help not only religious, priests …. men and women but also other people like nurses and priests who may come from various African countries… to benefit from it… because it is really something that we need.

The focus of the overall session is on the human, spiritual, pastoral and academic areas of life and ministry.

 

 General News

Thank you for being with us for this edition of the SMA International News. We invite you and look forward to see you next month.