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Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)

 

ACN Interview – ACN Head of section sheds light on the DRC, Africa

06.06.2019 in ACN PRESS, ACN PROJECTS, Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, Africa, By Maria Lozano, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Religious freedom

DRC: “What ACN offers, no other organization does”

On her return from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where she visited the Catholic dioceses of the Kasai region, Christine du Coudray, ACN’s section head for this country, reported on the situation in the region and gave her impressions.

 Interview conducted by Maria Lozano, ACN International

Published to web – June 6, 2019

 

Can you give us a description of the overall situation in the country?

This was the first time I had visited the Kasai region of this immense country, the Democratic Republic of Congo, four times the size of France in area. You’re walking on land rich in mineral wealth of every kind – diamonds, gold, minerals of all kinds, petroleum and so forth, yet the infrastructure is wrecked. This particular region, which I spent two weeks travelling, is particularly isolated, and some areas are isolated enclaves. In the country as a whole, the state of the roads, where they exist at all, is catastrophic, but I really found this particular region to be in a state of complete desolation. Historically, this was a privileged region during the time of King Leopold II, the King of the Belgians, who founded the Congo Free State in 1885. He made it his shop window and gave hundreds of hectares of land to the Catholic Church, which he wanted to see established in the country. The Scheutist Fathers (Missionaries of the Immaculate Heart of Mary) in particular were there in numbers, and in every diocese one can still see today the remains of the buildings built by these missionaries. Later the tables were turned, and the region was punished after independence, under the regime of Mobutu and afterwards, suffering from under-investment and generally abandoned to its fate. The structures are falling apart. The Kivu region, on the frontier with Rwanda, which I know better, is suffering from still worse conflicts, but benefits from having more and better structures.

The situation you describe sounds pretty desperate. How were the people you met on the spot living?

What struck me was the situation of complete abandonment on the one hand, yet on the other hand the local people displayed incredible energy in coping with the situation. I’m thinking of the young people who set out, sometimes from Lake Tanganyika, in the extreme east of the DRC, pushing their bicycles with loads of up to 500 kg of goods piled on them which they plan to sell on the other side of the country. They walk for days and nights like this on the potholed roads, helping each other as they go. I met with one of these young men, who explained to me that he had managed to save up enough for a brand-new bicycle, so that he could also become a “bayanda” – that’s the name they give to these young human beasts of burden – and that he was going to have to make still more savings in order to be able to change his wheels, so that he could carry still heavier loads.

After years as leader of the country, Joseph Kabila finally decided not to stand for the presidential elections last December, partly under pressure from the strong opposition, particularly on the part of the Church. How was this change of decision received by the Catholic leadership in the DRC?

Within the Catholic Bishops’ Conference there was some fairly lively discussion, and this body, which had deployed thousands of observers in the polling stations around the country, finally published a communique stating that in its view the election of the new president, Felix Tshisekedi, had not been in accordance with the “truth of the ballot.” They made it clear that they were pleased to see the political transition, but at the same time considered that the candidate declared as the victor was not necessarily the person who had received the most votes according to their own observations. But the most important thing to be borne in mind was that this change in the head of state is a historical one and that the transition took place almost without any violence. In January everyone had expected that the announcement of the results by the electoral commission would trigger an explosion of violence, and observers continue to be surprised that there has not been. That said, Joseph Kabila is still very much a part of the political scene and the present “truce” is a fragile one.

What is the situation of the Catholic Church, both in the country and within this particular region?

In the Kasai region there are eight dioceses, but for the moment there are only seven bishops, because the diocese of Kabinda is in a state of transition. Of these eight dioceses three, in my view, are in a particularly bad way, namely Kabinda, Mweka and Kole. In addition to its own internal problems, the Church here has to make up for the deficiencies of the state and is at the forefront of all the civic activities – social, political, development and so forth. For example, the town of Kabinda suffers from a terrible problem of soil erosion – it is literally in danger of collapsing – and it is the diocese that is leading the efforts to try and resolve this problem.

What particularly impressed you during this trip?

On the one hand it was the fact that a region so rich in diamonds could be suffering such poverty, yet on the other hand it was the commitment of many of the priests, who are doing exceptional work. I’m thinking of Father Apollinaire Cibaka and his association, which he founded and which is doing wonderful work. They have built 62 schools, four orphanages and four health centres, one of which has its own operating theatre and the regular support of Spanish doctors; then the pastoral work with albino children, helping them to be recognized in their own right, the work with abandoned children or street children, with teenage mothers and the programs for the advancement of women. The construction of an enclosure wall around the local prison, so that the prisoners do not have to be locked up 24 hours a day in a dark, unlit building, the work for the protection of the environment, including the planting of 30,000 trees… We helped Abbé Apollinaire to complete his studies for a doctorate in Spain, and on his return we helped him to set up a radio station, which is an authoritative voice in the local society. So despite the isolation, despite the difficulties, the courage and energy of the people are impressive and admirable. That is why a visit like this one is so very important.

And what would you say was the most difficult moment?

I was horrified to learn that, just a few hours after our visit there, the philosophy seminary in Kabwe had been attacked and vandalized. This is an indication of the fragile situation of the local Church.

What kind of aid is ACN supplying to the Democratic Republic of Congo?

Given the many issues requiring assistance, we are liaising closely with the bishops in order to decide with them on their various projects and assess their priorities in light of our resources. The important thing is that, following our visit, we can provide our aid rapidly. We are concentrating our support on the spiritual formation of the priests and on their living conditions, and likewise on the formation of religious sisters and catechists and the implementation of the teachings of Pope St John Paul II in regard to the family.

What kind of aid is ACN giving to the priests and seminarians?

We want to do all we can so that the Church here can have holy priests. A bishop once said to me, “What ACN offers, is something no other organization offers.” The structures vary greatly from one seminary to another. For example, in the philosophy college in Kabwe there are no toilets, no showers, and the septic tank is blocked up. It is hard to leave them in conditions like that. The seminarians only eat meat once a term.

As to the formation of the future priests, which is truly one of the priorities of ACN, we think that this depends on the formation of the teaching staff in the seminaries. And so we are sending entire teams of trainers for a five-week training course in Rome each summer. Quite apart from the fact that they can in this way live the experience of the universal Church, together with other trainers from all over the world, they learn to live, work and pray together there. Their testimonies of the sense of satisfaction and spiritual renewal there make for moving reading.

As far as their living conditions are concerned, we are providing vehicles to enable the local Church to reach the furthest corners of their dioceses. And sometimes even just a moped will help priests to travel much further than they can ever do on foot. We are also helping the priests with Mass stipends and contributing to the renovation and improvement of their presbyteries, which are frequently in a shocking state and which they scarcely dare to show us.

But you have also mentioned the support for religious brothers and sisters. What form does this aid actually take?

We are also very responsive to the needs of the religious, and especially the contemplative religious, who play a major role in the growth of the Church, thanks to their presence and their prayer. I visited the communities of the contemplative Poor Clare sisters in Mbuji-Mayi and Kabinda. They are a French foundation, formerly supported by their mother house, but today totally dependent on their own resources. It is not easy to provide the daily necessities for 40 religious sisters, including the novices and the postulants. They have a vegetable garden, they rear pigs and poultry, they have a host baking workshop. And they also have a guest house, offering a place of silence and prayer that is open to all. Their convent is some way from the town of Mbujimayi, and sometimes the sisters need hospital care. And there is also necessary shopping to be done, for which they need a robust 4×4 vehicle which we are hoping to be able to help them with.

Does ACN have any projects linked to the various internal wars and conflicts within the country?

Ever since 2016 the Kasaï region has been the theatre of tribal violence of exceptional cruelty; even the ethnologists are puzzled by these outbreaks of brutality, which mingle political issues with fetishist pagan beliefs. It is thought that the Kamwina Nsapu movement alone may have claimed between 4,000 and 23,000 victims, leaving some 1.4 million people uprooted and homeless as a result. The conflict suddenly came to an end with the election of the new president in January 2019, who is a son of the region. But the consequences are enormous, whether visible or invisible.

The visible scars can be seen because, for example, the diocesan structures in Luebo became the target – with the Bishop’s house set on fire, the convent of the sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the cathedral both burnt out after first being looted, the presbytery destroyed, the novice house and the propaedeutic seminary both burnt to ashes, official buildings ransacked and looted, many people with their throats cut… Since June 2017 the Bishop has had to take refuge in the parish of Ndeseka. We have promised to help rebuild his diocesan chancery and the convent of the sisters, whose role is so important in helping the traumatized population.

The invisible wounds are in people’s hearts, but they are going to need a long-term program of re-integration for people of all ages – some of the killers were children of seven years old, who after just having served Mass beheaded as the people coming out of the church, they were under the effect of drugs! In light of these events of such enormous and still “unexplained” violence, the Catholic Church now needs to reconsider its pastoral approach and work for an in-depth evangelization, so that Christ may truly reign in people’s hearts through the grace of a profound and personal encounter. ACN’s mission is to accompany the local Church in this new evangelization.

ACN Project of the Week : Transportation project in RDC

22.05.2019 in Africa, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)

ACN Project of the Week in 

Democratic Republic of Congo  

 

Repairing essential transportation for travel on the Congo River

 

The diocese of Lisala is one of the oldest and – with an area of over 67,600 km² –one of the most geographically extensive in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Situated in the north of the country, in the Congo basin, it is crisscrossed by the Congo River and its many tributaries making the waterways absolutely vital to the life of the Church.

The diocesan river boat, called: the Magnificat, is of crucial importance to pastoral outreach. But, sadly, the vessel was severely damaged in September 2018 while travelling downriver towards Kinshasa. Surprised by a sudden storm and unable to moor safely, it was flung against a large tree projecting it into the water causing a huge hole to tear on its side. Fortunately, the people on the boat were able to evacuate safely, but the boat sank almost completely. Needless to say, the material damage was extensive and the rescue campaign difficult. One of the priests and other helpers had to paddle across the river to reach the accident site.

In need of expertise

Initially, they attempted to repair the boat themselves and get it underway again, but it soon became clear that the whole process would be much more difficult than they had imagined and would require specialist materials and expert skills. Two of the motors were out of action, and repairing the hole in the side will require the work of skilled boat builders.

The diocese has turned to ACN for help.  In turn we have  promised $13,200, so that this boat with a vital mission, can quickly be rendered serviceable again.

 

Democratic Republic of the Congo: The people are well and truly on the Via Dolorosa!

29.03.2018 in ACN Canada, ACN Interview, Africa, Aid to the Church in Need Canada, By Mario Bard, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), DRC Congo, International Catholic Charity Aid to the Church in Need, Journey with ACN, Julie Bourbeau, Julie Bourdeau

Democratic Republic of the Congo:

The people are well and truly on the Via Dolorosa!

Since the mid-1990s, entire areas of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and particularly the eastern parts of the country, have been caught up in a never-ending nightmare: the people are well and truly on the Via Dolorosa! Just like Jesus on the Cross, the deeply devout people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo have every reason to call out to God in desperation: “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”

“Yes, in the case of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, one can really speak of a Via Dolorosa,” a contact person from the diocese of Butembo-Beni, who remains anonymous out of safety concerns, said to Aid to the Church in Need (ACN). “A climate of terror reigns in the diocese, which is maintained by the armed groups that have moved into the region since 1995.” The source emphasized that the situation is even worse in a number of parishes that are located in the region that journalists call the “triangle of death”. This concerns four parishes, “namely Eringeti, Mbau, Oicha and Buisegha in the commune of Beni. The parishes Kipese, Kagheri, Bingi and Luofu are located in the territory of Lubero. A number of residents of these parishes have spent more than twenty years constantly fleeing from one place to the next!”

Dioceses are doing what they can to help displaced and refugee people. Here in Butembo-Beni, distribution of food.

 

 

The cause of this never-ending nightmare is the presence of rebel groups that have been slaughtering the population since 1995. “These massacres are taking place in the northern parts of the diocese of Butembo-Beni, or, to be more precise, in the commune of Beni, as well as the environs of the city of Beni,” the source told ACN. “These massacres have now spread to the neighbouring province of Ituri, which is located in the northern part of our province of North Kivu.”

 

Among other groups, a Muslim guerrilla organization that originated in Uganda and goes by the name of ADF-Nalu (Allied Democratic Forces) is responsible for the massacres. The rebels have been in the diocese since 1995. The contact person further reported that “analyses have shown that the manner in which the killings are being carried out is similar to that used during the Rwandan genocide in 1994.” This has convinced a number of observers that a “Rwandan mastermind” could be behind the massacres that have been terrorizing the people in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo for more than 25 years.

 

“These villains use machetes and axes to mercilessly kill young and old people, women and children,” the informant said.

 

He also mentioned “a project for Balkanization” that is being promoted by unknown forces with the goal of literally creating a “Tutsiland” that would reach “over our entire province of North Kivu, across South Kivu and across the province of Ituri. These would then join Rwanda. That is the reason why the peaceful population is being massacred: to obliterate all traces of the indigenous peoples who are cultivating the land. This is what has turned these populations into a flood of refugees. We don’t know at which level the complicity [of the different state agencies] is happening – on a regional, national or even international level,” the informant continued.

 

He also explained that the exploitation of natural resources and the control over these riches, as well as “greed”, also play a role in these massacres and have led thousands upon thousands of people to flee. According to estimates provided by Doctors without Borders, since December 2017, 50,000 people have crossed Lake Albert, a large lake in Ituri province, to escape the massacres, the raping of the women, children and old people and the destruction of their villages. They are finding shelter in Uganda on the other side of the lake.

 

How is it possible to proclaim the Gospel here?

 

Mothers with their children, expecting better days.

In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Church continues to be one of the strongest moral and social powers. “Our church in Butembo-Beni is working on sensitizing the people so that the refugees are taken in by families,” the contact person explained. “The diocese has called for donations of money and goods (food, clothing, equipment) several times. However, the never-ending war has so impoverished the people that almost nothing is collected anymore in response to these calls for donations.”

 

The Church remains strong in spite of the atmosphere of terror and persecution under which it is suffering. The source explained that the passage in the Gospels “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44) helps the people to keep going. He also made reference to a well-known biblical figure: Job. “We have taken as an example the tenacity and the witness in suffering as well as the perseverance and patience of Job.”

 

During Holy Week, ACN specifically calls for prayers for the inhabitants of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as well as for the Church that works for the Congolese people and is being persecuted for this reason. Since 2015, the international Catholic pastoral charity Aid to the Church in Need has been supporting 823 projects with over 16 million dollars.

 


 

 

Special day of prayer and fasting for peace: “God hears the tears of his people.”

23.02.2018 in ACN International, ACN Interview, Africa, Aid to the Church in Need Canada, By Maria Lozano, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), International Catholic Charity Aid to the Church in Need, Journey with ACN, Julie Bourbeau, Pope Francis, Prayer, South Sudan

African bishops welcome the Pope’s call to pray for peace:

“God hears the tears of his people.”

Faced with the tragic situations of conflict in various parts of the world, the Holy Father Pope Francis has called upon faithful Catholics to join in a special day of prayer and fasting for peace, today, Friday, February 23, Friday of the first week of Lent. The Pope has also invited non-Catholics and non-Christians to join together with this initiative in whatever manner they deem most appropriate.

In his appeal, the Holy Father underlined in particular his concern for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and for South Sudan. Two African bishops, Bishop Timothy Bodika Mansiyai of Kikwit in the DRC, and Auxiliary Bishop Daniel Adwok of the Archdiocese of Khartoum in Sudan, spoke recently to the international Catholic pastoral charity and pontifical charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) about the crisis their people are suffering.

“The Holy Father knows well the tragic situation that both countries are going through,” the Congolese bishop remarked. “The Pope has a great desire to visit both places,” stated Bishop Bodika, “but he was forced to cancel both trips”. But “although he was unable to be physically present in our countries, he nonetheless accompanies us spiritually.”

Bishop Timothée Bodika Mansiyai, from Kikwit diocese in Democratic Repupblic of Congo. “The people of Congo were “crying out in pain”, said the bishop, yet “It is a cry that the international community is not hearing”.

During his visit to ACN’s international headquarters, Bishop Bodika expressed great gratitude towards Pope Francis, “who continues to closely follow the tense situation that the DRC is undergoing and the repression and abuses of which the priests, religious and lay Catholic Christians are victims. God hears the tears of his people.”

And indeed, the DR Congo is wracked by different conflicts. The struggle for the country’s mineral wealth for more than a decade has sparked a ruthless war in eastern Congo, to which the conflict in the central Kasai region has been added since 2016. And as if this were not bad enough, the country is also afflicted by “the general crisis due to the political tensions in relation to the general elections.”

In recent months the situation has further escalated, with peaceful demonstrations violently repressed by government armed forces, resulting in deaths and numerous injuries. Some of these protests were initiated by the Lay Coordination Committee (CLC) of the Archdiocese of Kinshasa and were simply calling for the accords of December 31, 2016 (the so-called Saint Sylvester Accords) to be respected and for the constitutional rotation of offices in the political institutions of the state.

Prayer and fasting for conversion of hearts
“The special day of prayer and fasting is a call for the conversion of hearts, of all our hearts, but also those of our politicians and leaders”, said Bishop Bodika. “They have forgotten that their duty should be to be at the service of the nation, not merely of a handful of people, while the rest of the community remains in poverty.” The people of Congo were “crying out in pain”, said the bishop, yet “It is a cry that the international community is not hearing”. In his own diocese of Kikwit alone, the number of uprooted people now in need of care, with food, accommodation, healthcare and schooling, has already reached 30,000. “The diocese of Kikwit does not have the financial means to cope with this humanitarian emergency. And so far, our petitions to the authorities and political organizations to help manage this crisis have not met with success,” Bishop Bodika complained.

Terror reigns in South Sudan
For his part, Auxiliary Bishop Daniel Adwok of Khartoum in Sudan, emphasized to ACN the terrible situation in South Sudan. “The war there has created mass displacements in many parts of the land and destruction in relation to the community and the family, with loss of respect for human dignity.”

Explaining the situation in the country, Bishop Adwok deplored the fact that “Terror reigns in South Sudan, with warriors, government and politicians grappling for power, positions and not minding the fate of the ordinary Southern Sudanese. The fact that until today no one knows – the government itself does not know – how many people have died in South Sudan since the start of the war in December 2013 is indicative of how the value of the human person has become of no worth in South Sudan.”

 

Mgr. Daniel Adwok Kur, Auxiliary Bishop of Khartoum in Sudan. “I know of some elderly people who could not physically run away from their homes, but still met their death in the same home killed by people carrying arms.”

“No one keeps count and it looks as if those who died of violence, some of hunger and other mistreatments were ‘unfortunate’ – [as if] they were in the wrong place at the wrong time.” Referring to attackers targeting vulnerable groups in society, he said: “I know of some elderly people who could not physically run away from their homes, but still met their death in the same home killed by people carrying arms.”

In addition to calling for a cessation of hostilities in South Sudan and for the blessing of peace, Bishop Adwok requested that during the day of prayer and fasting on February 23rd people should also pray for the refugees and displaced, and especially for the young.

“Most of them are jobless and cannot continue with their education, and at the same time they are left alone to fend for themselves, and in many cases to take care of their young siblings and relatives as well. The numerous challenges they face leave them feeling lonely, seeking cheap consolations and in many cases being drawn into groups linked to violence”, he explained.

31 wars and armed conflicts in 2017
The Holy Father’s appeal to pray for peace is a concrete response to the silent cry of so many victims all over the world. There were a total of 31 wars and armed conflicts during 2017, according to research conducted by the Group for the Investigation into the Causes of War based at the University of Hamburg in Germany.

The pontifical charity Aid to the Church in Need, which supported the African continent in the shape of almost 2,000 projects and a total of over 36 million dollars during 2017, is inviting all its benefactors and co-workers to join together in the day of prayer and fasting today, February 23,  2018.

Actually in the world, more than 65 million people are displaced because of war and internal conflicts. This tragedy cannot be ignored. 

 


 

DRC – Attacks on the Catholic Church

19.01.2018 in ACN Canada, ACN International, Africa, By Murcadha O'Flaherty and John Pontifex, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), International Catholic Charity Aid to the Church in Need, Julie Bourdeau

DRC :

security forces accused of killings in more than 130 Church attacks

 

Army and police in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) stand accused of killing at least four people and injuring several others in attacks on more than 130 churches around the country. In the latest incident on Friday (January 12th), two people were injured when security forces reportedly fired tear gas at Kinshasa Cathedral after a mass for lay people killed by the military and the police.

 

Father Apollinaire Cikongo, Executive Secretary of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference, Kananga Province, which covers eight dioceses in central DRC, said: “There was a mass at Kinshasa Cathedral remembering at least four people killed on December 31st.”

In his statement given to the Catholic charity “Aid to the Church in Need,” he continued: “After this mass, the army and police again fired tear gas and two people were injured.”

Church leaders have blamed DRC’s security forces for attacks over the New Year which took place at 134 churches and chapels in the capital, and a number of provinces in the country.

This lady was shot in the head with a live bullet. They thought at the time that she was dead but she had survived. Soldiers and police are accused of firing live ammunition as the faithful were coming out of Mass at St Dominic’s Church, Limete. 

Soldiers and police are accused of firing live ammunition as the faithful were coming out from mass at St. Dominic’s Church, Limete.

Accusing the DRC’s police and army of an unprovoked attack in the grounds of the church, St. Dominic’s parochial vicar, Father Jean Nkongolo, said that when he asked them to stop shooting the parishioners, he was shot in the face by a rubber bullet and injured.

As well as rubber bullets, security forces fired ‘stun’ projectiles and tear gas at the religious procession in the grounds of the church, reportedly almost killing a woman.

Four other parishioners were injured by rubber bullets during the attack.

Father Nkongolo’s account was relayed through Father Cikongo, who said: “Every Sunday after mass, the parishioners go to the Grotto of Our Lady within the church grounds to pray the Salve Regina prayer and get a blessing. Father Nkongolo said that it was at this moment that the parishioners were attacked and shot with tear gas and rubber bullets by the security forces.”

 

Describing how Fr Nkongolo received his facial injury, Father Cikongo said: “Father Nkongolo went over to the police to tell them to stop because the people were innocent and had done nothing wrong. Father Nkongolo told me that it was at this moment that a policeman shot at him directly towards his eyes with a rubber bullet, but thanks be to God, Fr Nkongolo reacted quickly and moved his head away from the attack. Otherwise he would have been hit in the eyes, but he was shot on the side of his face

Father Cikongo said that after the attack, Father Nkongolo noticed the woman shot in the head, picked her up off the ground and carried her into the church.

Father Cikongo said: “This one lady was shot in the head with a live bullet. Fr Nkongolo said: ‘we thought at the time that she was dead, but she had survived.’”

 

The woman was taken to hospital, where the latest reports describe her condition as stable.

Father Cikongo said that after the mass, the parish had decided against taking part in a peaceful march organized by lay faithful after the DRC’s President Joseph Kabila reneged on a deal to stand down and not serve a third term.

But now, after the attack at Kinshasa Cathedral, Father Cikongo said the lay faithful – the Lay Coordination Committee – has called for a peaceful demonstration on Sunday (January 21st).

Blood stained Tiles on the church compound – St Dominic’s Church.

Pray for the People of DRC and pray for the Catholic Church and Her pacific work. 

ACN Project of the Week – DRC

11.01.2018 in ACN BENEFACTORS, ACN Canada, Africa, Africa, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Dominican Fathers, International Catholic Charity Aid to the Church in Need, Journey with ACN, MOTORIZATION, Project of the Week, TRANSPORTATION

Success Story: Democratic Republic of the Congo

 

A minibus for the Dominican Fathers in Kinshasa

 

The Dominican Fathers in Kinshasa are delighted to have received their new minibus. Their old vehicle finally gave up the ghost, irrevocably, while travelling on the road, some 210 km (130 miles) away from their home monastery. From that time onward, they were forced to cope somehow or other without a vehicle. But thanks to the generosity of our benefactors who have given $33,000, they have at last been able to purchase a new minibus.

 

The Dominican Order, which celebrated its 800 years of existence in 2016, has been in existence since 1912 in what is today the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  Long ago, at that time, it was Belgian priests who arrived as missionaries, but now it is the home-grown Congolese religious who are following in their footsteps. The order is represented in four dioceses of the country and has six houses, with a total of 42 priests. The Dominican Fathers are involved in chaplaincy work with the military and the police, and they also care for former child soldiers, for orphans, the crippled and disabled and for victims of sexual violence. They are also involved in the running of five local parishes.

 

A minibus translates into more study time

Blessing of the minibus offered by the benfactors of Aid to the Church in Need, in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo.

There are many new vocations. Currently there are 17 students, six novices and eight pre-novices who are preparing to commit themselves one day fully to the order through their solemn vows. Two young men have already been ordained to the diaconate in fact, and are now looking forward to their ordination as priests.

The new minibus is very important to the Dominicans for the effective realization of their many different activities. However, its most important use is for the young men who are pursuing their studies. For one of the two universities where these students are training is around 10 miles (15 km) away from the Dominican monastery, and public transport in the 13 million-strong (new statistics show 17 million!) city of Kinshasa is inadequate and unreliable.

As a result, the students found it almost impossible to arrive punctually and reliably for their studies, and on top of this they were in a constant state of near exhaustion, having been forced to waste a great deal of time that they should have been able to devote to their studies and to their monastic life.

Father Albert Akora Kanika writes, “Thanks to the new vehicle, our students are exposed to fewer dangers on the roads; they are healthier and happier and can pursue their studies better and more regularly – and above all take part in the life of the monastery while looking to achieve better grades in their studies.”

If you are inspired by this project and wish to contribute to a similar one, please click the donate button!

 

 

 

 


 

ACN Feature Story – “Without a roof over your head – there is no such thing as community.”

10.11.2017 in ACN International, ACN PROJECTS, Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)

Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)

“Without a roof over your head – there is no such thing as community.”

The position of the Church in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is difficult, especially in the eastern part of the country, where war has been raging for decades over the coveted raw materials mines. The deeply damaging effects of these never-ending conflicts can also be felt in the north-western diocese of Basankusu.

 

Co-financing of the rehabilitation of the cathedral St Peter and Paul (phase 3)

For some time now, a structure has risen out of the surrounding countryside there and become a symbol of hope: a cathedral. Impressive, it stands tall and in its shadow a beautiful green countryside. Aid to the Church in Need has been supporting this project as it slowly has taken shape.

 

However, symbols of hope continue to rise in the middle of this state of affairs. With it, more than just a building has become visible and tangible to the local people. A Congolese saying goes, “Without a roof over your head – there is no such thing as community.” As the cathedral begins to rise up out of the field, “this literally establishes the community of believers for the local people,” explains the bishop, Msgr Joseph Mokobe Niodoku. After all, this is where they can gather in prayer or for educational programs, for trade fairs and celebrations, on sunny and rainy days. “For them, the cathedral is a perpetual source of motivation carved in stone to do something for the common good.” It symbolises being a part of the large family of believers that stretches beyond national borders.”

 

Bishop Joseph Mokobe Ndjoku at Mass  celebration of the Sisters’ vows

And it is also a link to the benefactors of Aid to the Church in Need from all over the world who have contributed to the funding of this cathedral. The new church represents the challenge “for Catholics in the Congo to become active in the Christian spirit for peace,” explains Joseph Mokobe Ndjoku. Which is why he describes the cathedral as the key. The inauguration of the church is planned for this spring.

 

Corruption, insecurity and terrible infrastructures

 

National elections are planned for late 2017. The ailing economy, marked by corruption and inefficiency. However, Bishop Mokobe reports that the preparations for these are stagnating; the round tables at which the church had repeatedly championed peace talks and the reformation of the bitterly divided camps that make up Congolese society have ceased to take place.

 

The exploitation of natural resources and its devastating impact on the people remains unresolved. One of the main demands of the church has therefore become “to hold the upcoming elections”.

 

DEM.REP. CONGO, diocese of Basankusu, March 2017
Diocesan pastoral council

An example of a difficult situation in the country:  the infrastructure. It is in a very bad state of repair in many places if not hardly existent. This means that when Bishop Joseph Mokobe Ndjoku and his collaborators cannot go out to visit the parishes in his diocese of 77,000 square kilometres. Often they can only travel by canoe on the rivers because the streets are impassable. It takes him more than two days to travel about 300 kilometers!

 

Story by ACN International
Adapted by, Amanda Bridget Griffin, Canada