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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Confirmations in Bozoum and around

Confirmations in Bozoum and around
I am a bit late ... and already someone cares about. Thanks anyhow, but all is well. The reason why I'm late with my weekly news? I wanted to celebrate the Sacrament of Confirmation first with the opportunity to add few cool pics of the event. Confirmation, one of seven sacraments, “confirms" the baptism. It's somewhat like entering into adulthood of faith. The Bishop performs a very nice gesture and very old: He prays laying his hands asking God to send His Holy Spirit on those Christians who want to live their faith seriously.  This year we have gathered here the Confirmation candidates of Bozoum and those of the nearest villages. For the whole week I, Fr. Enrico and Fr.Norberto have been busy in examining the candidates about the catechism, preparing boys, girls, young people and adults at this important occasion. Finally Saturday afternoon the Abbot Mirek arrives. He is a Polish priest, Vicar of the diocese. The bishop can’t be with us because he doesn’t feel to well.   He is present with his regards and a bottle of whiskey ... kind of comfort for his absence! But He also sent his nearness and gratitude for the courage and the work done in these two years of war and tension. And that touches us, much more than the whiskey! Today, Sunday, April 19, is the great day. Since early morning the candidates are ready. Almost all of them are dressed in red, the color that reminds not only the Holy Spirit but also the martyrdom, extreme act of "seriousness" to follow Christ! They are so many! From Bozoum are 98, and 50 are from 4 nearest villages. The Celebration at 8:30 begins. We can see the presence of lots of people, great participation while we escort them by much prayer. We embrace all these brothers and sisters to accompany them, asking God to renew for each one of us the gift of the Holy Spirit. The celebration ends at 11.30am and we go out with newly confirmed for a last prayer to entrust them to the protection of the Virgin Mary.

La più piccola delle AWADODO (le danzatrici liturgiche)
La plus petite parmi les AWADODO (les danseuses liturgiques)

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

A Week all white and slalom among many obstacles

A Week all white and slalom among many obstacles
After the Baptisms of the Easter Vigil, the celebration goes on the whole Easter day. After the Mass the newly Baptized leave, followed by the music and singing of several choirs. They continue to celebrate at home. In the afternoon I take a quick tour (due to the threatening storm) to visit few of them: many families are still celebrating, singing and dancing, and continue throughout the day. Since Monday, the new baptized come every day to the parish church to participate in the Mass all dressed in white. On Monday I prepare the second issue of “Le Saint Michel” newspaper.  Here you have it:
On Tuesday afternoon I have a meeting with the different ONG present in Bozoum together with the authorities. Some of these have everything in mind but the good of the common interest. At one point one of them threatens me saying: “you and your careful!”.  My accomplices are the youths who work for social solidarity and peace. Unfortunately this is part of our environment. What really bother me is that many persons (on top are the authorities and the political parties) didn’t understand a bit of this crisis and they are repeating the same mistakes of misgovernment and arrogance as if this crisis wouldn’t have its roots in those specific problems never settled! On Wednesday I go to Bangui. I have to realize how the stop points do increase continuously. By now there are 17 of them on a 400 Km of road. The checkpoints are ordered by the police (!?!?), but very often the control is limited to the payment of a certain amount of money. Wednesday afternoon I am at the Carmel, our Bangui convent, where we are planning to dig 2 wells for the future convent. Marcelin, a water-dowser, takes a walk identifying few points where on Friday we began drilling: there is water, a lot of it! On Thursday and Friday I am in Bangui for a workshop on peace, reconciliation and social unity, organized by Cordaid (a Dutch ONG). I participate representing Caritas and Justice and Peace. We are about forty people, Christians and Muslims, from all over the Country. We reflect and work to build something real to promote Peace. The same Friday, some bandits stop the car of one of the participant, beat up the driver and run away with the car. This happened in broad daylight and in plain view, at the center of the town. Security? ZERO!

Festa per i nuovi battezzati
La Fete pour les nouveaux baptisés

Sulla moto ci sono come minimo 350 kg di merce
sur la moto il y a au moins 350 kg de marchandises

Marcellin, il rabdomante
Marcelin, le sourcier

Aperura dell'Atelier
Ouverture de l'Atelier

Monday, April 6, 2015

Easter 2015

Easter 2015
Holy week, I mean: this Holy Week!
It began with Palme Sunday: many people and so many palms clasped together and decorated. We all start journeying as the people of Jerusalem, which today acclaim Jesus as the Son of David. But I ask myself: how on Friday we’ll treat Him? Tuesday I go to Bouar, where the next day there is the great celebration of the Chrism Mass presided over by our Bishop. In this special celebration the Bishop is surrounded by all his priests, who renew their priestly promises. After the homily, the Bishop blesses the holy oils (oil of catechumens, oil of the sick and chrism). All 12 parishes of the diocese are present with almost 30 priests. It is nice to be together, pray and reflect together saying thanks for the beauty of the gift of the priesthood, which unites us and has brought us to this African Nation from different countries! Holy Thursday the liturgy helps us in making memory of the Eucharist, the priesthood and the Commandment of love: Jesus at the Last Supper washes the feet to his disciples. And so do I at the Mass in Bozoum washing the feet of 12 altar boys. On Good Friday we make memory of the Passion and death of Jesus. In the afternoon celebration, we read the Passion according to St. John. We don’t forget to pray for all the people who suffer, especially for all the students of Garissa, Kenya, and for all Christians who are killed because of their faith. On Holy Saturday is a day of silent waiting. Jesus died ... but we know it will not be forever! Morning time we are busy in getting ready with lights and microphones for the great Easter Vigil to be held outdoors. At 7.00pm we are ready to begin: deep darkness, only a fire is breaking the night. From that fire now we can light up the Easter candle symbol of Christ, Light of the World. After the celebration of God’s Word, the Baptisms of 135 catechumens follow: among then girls, boys, young people and adults. With the baptisms we celebrate 27 First Communions and 3 Weddings. It was a very fruitful Night, full of joy for so many. As soon as the Vigil ends (10.30pm!) the people return home, filling Bozoum with songs all night long! On Easter Sunday at 8.30am we celebrate the Eucharist: the newly baptized are in the first rows! During the Offertory a woman goes dancing while wiping the sweat from the faces of the baptized. An image that says the tenderness and joy for these new Christians!
Happy Easter everyone!

For those interested: Italian television (Rai News) did broadcast a well done service on the Central African Republic. Here is the link:

Domenica delle Palme a Bozoum
Dimanche des Rameaux à Bozoum

Messa Crismale nella Cattedrale di Bouar
Messe Chrismale à la Cathédrale de Bouar

Sunday, March 29, 2015

The usual Marathon.

The usual Marathon.
It is a beautiful but very busy week the one reaching the end.  Monday and Tuesday, boys, girls, youth and adults were under pressure because of the examination on the Catechism. All of them are going to be baptized on the Easter Vigil. With great emotion we listen to the magnificent words of our faith from the mouth of the catechumens. The great truths of faith, expressed so well. Meanwhile is on newsstands only in Bozoum or here on the net:  the first issue of "THE SAINT MICHEL," the newspaper of Bozoum parish. Is the beginning of a new adventure in a Country where newspapers are very few and restricted to Bangui. So, where books, magazines and print media are a rarity, the magazine of the Parish here in Bozoum becomes an opportunity to read, reflect and to share ideas. The newspaper is the result of a good cooperation and solidarity among a good number of people: Mimmo who followed the purchase of the printer, those who have assembled the machinery, and those who have paid for, who offered the paper, up to Paul working as editor of the newspaper. Wednesday is the day of our pilgrimage. We begin the great journey of young people, from Bozoum until Bossemptele (almost 90 km!). We have over 200 subscribers, others will be added along the way. The purpose of the pilgrimage is to walk together, to pray together, and to sow in the hearts and in the villages we’ll pass through the Word of God's Peace.
The journey takes place in four stages:
• Wednesday: Bozoum - Bokongo (17 km). Departure at 2.30pm - arrival at 5.00pm
• Thursday: Bokongo - Bombalou (33 km). Departure at 5:30am - arrival at 11.00am
• Friday: Bombalou - Boyaram (17 km). Departure 8:30am - arrival 11.00am
• Saturday: Boyaram - Bossemptele (25 km). Departure 6.00am – arrival 10.00am
Just this week we remember the 5th Centenary of St. Teresa birthday (March 28, 1515), a woman who has walked a lot, full of joy and faith. Long distance and very hot sun (Thursday we reached 41 degrees Celsius), don’t discourage our pilgrims. Part of the way we walk praying, singing as long as we can breathe and when possible even a little further. With us there is also Gauthier, a boy with a handicap, who with his wheelchair succeeds in following us, sometimes, if he finds his way, he goes even ahead of us! I walk with them for the first two stages, and then I let them go with Fr.Enrico and Fr.Ciriaque, because of my other commitments, and to be honest also because of my sore feet. On Friday afternoon there is the Council of Teachers for the end of the second quarter of our middle school and high school St. Augustin.
Have a safe journey!


Arrivo a Bombalou