ACN Success Story
Central African Republic (CAR)
Ongoing training in the diocese of Bouar
Published to the web Wednesday July 17,2019
Thanks to the support of our benefactors who have given $4,500, close to 40 diocesan priests and religious from the diocese of Bouar were able to participate in an ongoing formation session last March.
Given the country is suffering such violence and extreme problems in the Central African Republic, it is especially important to lend support and strength to priests. They are often the only ones who can really reach their people and help them not to lose hope.
The program included important pastoral issues such as marriage preparation, preparation for the sacraments, adult baptisms and the role of catechists in small and remote rural villages. At the same time, the priests were able to reflect on their own vocation and the importance of the priesthood, while additionally receiving training in a range of practical matters. Some topics such as bookkeeping, general administration and record keeping, all subjects essential and obligatory in every parish and institution, but for which many priests are often inadequately prepared.
The priests of the diocese have all benefited greatly from these days of sharing and ongoing formation and wish to express their gratitude to all our generous benefactors who made this meeting possible.
A facilitator found assassinated
Sadly, immediately after these beautiful and encouraging days, a terribly tragic incident occurred. A 47-year-old Capuchin, Father Toussaint Zoumalde, who had so recently given a talk on the priesthood and vocation, was murdered on his way home from the meeting.
This priest, who had originally come from the diocese of Bouar, but was currently serving as Provincial Superior of his order in Chad, had been planning to spend the night in Ngaoundere, Cameroon. He was stabbed to death by unknown assailants on his way home.
“This priest who was so rich in the fine qualities of the Gospel and the beauty of the priestly order.”
Father Toussaint was a highly educated priest who had studied in Rome and been involved in the work of priestly formation. Friends and colleagues have described him as a fine and multi-talented individual with a profound soul and great love for the Church and the priesthood in particular.
A songwriter and poet, he had a wonderful way with young people, to whom he brought the Gospel message. He was previously responsible for the Catholic radio station in Bouar. In addition to his many other activities in Chad, he was the head of a cultural museum of the Mboum ethnic group. In their obituary for him the Capuchin Fathers wrote: “In killing him on the night of 19 March, the cowardly hand of his murderer knew nothing of the beauty and elegance of Brother Toussaint, this priest who was so rich in the fine qualities of the Gospel and the beauty of the priestly order.”
It was that just a few days after meeting with his fellow priests in Bouar, where Father Toussaint had given his confreres an inspiring and profound reflection on the priesthood, that his mortal remains were carried to their burial by his brother priests. Great mourning could be felt among all the people and the entire Church in the diocese. The words he had spoken at this meeting of the priests have thus become his lasting legacy.
In Central African Republic, the last words of an assassinated Capuchin priest, became a special legacy for forty or so priests whom you helped receive continuing education.