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December 2021 News

 Ireland: Look back of Fr. Alphonse SEKONGO on his 6 years of mission in the province;

Strasbourg: Concert of Charity for the missionary works in Liberia;

Rome: Meeting of the SMA-NDA commission for the common spiritual heritage.

Ireland

In 2016 Fr Alphonse Sekongo from Côte d’ivoire was appointed as the first African Parish Priest in the Cork Diocese.
After six years, he now looks back at his ministry.

Fr Alphonse SEKONGO -Missionary in Ireland:
When I received the call from Rome, telling me I am going to Ireland .. and then I rang my mom … I said Mom this is the latest news … when I said I have been appointed to Ireland.
She said .. Where is that?
And I said its not far from England, London…
She said OK – but this is white people country
Why are they sending you there over there?
And I said Mum! This is the life I have chosen to become a priest and precisely a missionary, so I am open to all options you know … so I am going to work in Ireland.
But I never knew how I am going to adjust myself in the culture where everybody is white.

The Irish community of SMA were very supportive of Fr Alphonse’s appointment and offered great encouragement and advice.

Fr Alphonse SEKONGO -Missionary in Ireland:
… and don’t forget you are one of the pioneers, so you are
.. they use an expression (is it ah ) Ground Breaking… so you are one of them. So make sure your years over here will be fruitful for you... That’s what he said... for you first... that would be good for you … and then other people would appreciate it.
So for me the internationality has brought something different in my life as an SMA.

The global pandemic of Covid 19 was the biggest challenge for the parish priest.

Fr Alphonse SEKONGO -Missionary in Ireland:
It was tough; It was tough, because you could not do anything
To a point that I asked myself … Is it worthy to be a priest in such circumstance?
How helpful could I be for the church members?
How could I be more relevant in this situation?
So then one morning I just thought of.. Why not start having my mass on line, because we have the facility… the webcam live streaming is there … so let me do something.
And then to my surprise, three days later … someone rang on the phone and said … is that Fr Alphonse and I said yes!
Oh father I watched you this morning …thank you
So we keep you in our prayers … keep it up!
From that call …people are watching me … why not wave at them … why not wave at them!
…and then I waved to the camera, knowing that many people are there.

He continued his contact with the sick and other parishioners, By phone.

Fr Alphonse SEKONGO -Missionary in Ireland:
What I did was … I rang all those sick people that I used to visit on the first Friday of the month, just to have some news of how they are faring with this covid situation…are they still alive, you know?
And it really boosted my …let me say … my love for them.
After five years or six years I think is the time when you get to ground yourself in the culture. This is a time for you, you start getting friends that would be there for you.
This is also the time for you to leave the parish, so it is a bit, let me say, it is a kind of dilemma so you are coming to know people better and it is time to leave… this is life!
So I would like to say … ‘go raibh míle maith agat’ (Thank you – Irish).

Strasbourg

A charity concert was organized by the province to support SMA activities in Liberia. A concert which saw the participation of several SMAs, OLAs and people eager to partake in the missionary activities of the SMA.

On October 23 to close World Missions Week, the OLA Sisters and SMA Fathers of the Province of Strasbourg organized a concert at the SMA Chapel in Haguenau. It was a moment of prayer and discovery of the universal mission of the church. The word of welcome was given by Father André N’koy, Provincial Superior of Strasbourg, after a moment of silence for Cécile Assougou, religious catechists of the sacred heart, who died in Lyon on October 21, 2021.
The voices of the three musical groups who had graced this mission concert with their presence allowed participants to move to the rhythm of tam-tam, gospel, salsa, New Age music and classical music. The benefit of the concert will go to the missions of Liberia.

SMA-NDA Spiritual Common Heritage Commission

On the way to 2026, this is the objective set by the SMA-NDA commission on the Common Spiritual Heritage.
An objective divided into 4 phases, the current phase of which is the experiential phase. Phase for which the committee met from 02 to 06 November 2021.

Fr François de Paul HOUNGUE – Vicar General of the SMA:
This meeting was held to see and examine the various responses that were sent as part of the experiential phase of the journey that we have initiated. I would like to refresh our memory so that we fully understand why this meeting took place.
You know since 2017, the two general councils, the SMA general council and the OLA general council have approved a process: on the way to 2026. It is a path that the two institutes have agreed to take together.
Why such a process?
There is a proverb in Africa, a proverb in my place in particular which says that it is at the end of the old cord that we weave the new. We want to draw from the treasure of our history the elements of our charism. We also want to draw from our experience today some elements of our charism and confront what we are living today with what was lived a few years ago; confront the two and identify the essential elements of our charism and update them; because as you know very well, all charism is called to evolve. Charism is not static, it is dynamic. We want to see what we are experiencing today if it is conformed to the primary intuition, the first intuition of our founders and their immediate successors; confront all this and identify the essential elements of our charisms in order to better live our mission in the context which is ours.

On the way to 2026, but one might wonder why 2026?

Sr Anne FALOLA – OLA General Counselor:
I would like to remind us that all these works we are doing now is actually with the aim of preparing us adequately to celebrate in the year 2026 a very important landmark in the life of our two institutes. There will be three celebrations in one: the first is the 200 years of the birth of the founder of Sisters of our Lady of Apostles our dear father Augustin Planque, who was the first superior general of the SMA and the co-founder of the SMA; the second thing we shall be celebrating is 170 years of the foundation of the SMA and also 150 years of the foundation of the OLA. So, it's really beautiful because we don't want to arrive in 2026 and just think of the merriment of the celebration. We want to use the occasion to revive, to renew, to actualize our charism; to make it new again so that all our sisters and all our fathers everywhere in the world will be able to attract more people to join on this missionary dream. The mission especially in Africa is what gave birth to our congregations and we would like to validate this, even in the reality of today. So, we ask you to pray along with us as we do this together because we have all been part of the journey.

While awaiting the results of the various reflections, everyone is called upon to make his or her own this process.

General Info


1 - From November 9 to 12, a working session was held at the General House for the superiors of the provinces of Europe, Canada and the United States.

2- On Saturday November 20, Bishop Dieudonné Datonou, recently appointed apostolic nuncio in Burundi, was consecrated Archbishop at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Bishop Dieudonné Datonou is the 1st apostolic nuncio from Benin Republic.