, 24 September, 2019 / 3:40 AM
The Church in Gabon is marking 175 years of Catholicism in the country with thanksgiving to God for the accomplishments made since the first missionary, Fr Jean- Rémi Bessieux arrived in 1844.
“The jubilee is a moment of thanksgiving, a review of our experience with God, of repentance and conversion,” the National Coordinator of the Jubilee celebration, Fr. Jean-Clair Patrick Nguema Edou told ACI Africa Monday.
The yearlong jubilee celebration, which was launched last September 29 has been marked by conferences, the opening of holy doors in all dioceses, Eucharistic celebrations, and musical concerts.
The prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, Robert Cardinal Sarah graced the celebrations with his participation at the International Youth Forum in Libreville, the capital of Gabon from July 30 to August 4.
“This jubilee is a historic moment for our country, and its inhabitants, it is a moment of grace to valorize our living together,” the jubilee coordinator, Fr. Edou said.
In his recollection, the celebration “has brought together Gabonese ... to take a look at the works of our first missionaries and reflect on the future of the church in the country.”
Situated along the Atlantic coast of Central Africa, Gabon was the first country to open the door to Christianity in Equatorial Black Africa, south of the Sahara.
“Let us receive this joy brought by the jubilee, let us all promote justice and peace, the common good, unity and solidarity,” Fr. Edou noted and invited Catholics to take the path of personal, community and national construction during this jubilee that will conclude Sunday, September 29.
The event coordinator who is also the Parish Priest of Saint Christopher Okala described the 175th anniversary after 150 years in 1994 as a mid-way to the future celebration of bicentenary in 2044.
He acknowledged the jubilee as a season “of joy and happiness, which unites us as a family of God.”
“It is a moment for the church in Gabon to do its own balance sheet and for the faithful to evaluate themselves with God and the church,” Fr. Edou said.
Archbishop Basile Mvé Engone of Libreville will preside over the solemn thanksgiving Mass to end the jubilee celebrations at the multipurpose sports complex in Gabon during which 16 deacons will be ordained priests.
The history of the Church in Gabon is chronologically articulated around two main periods: that of the history of the Missionary Church (1844-1958); and that of the history of the local or diocesan Churches (Since 1958).
ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.
Father Don Bosco Onyalla
Editor-in-Chief, ACI Africa