, 23 October, 2019 / 12:52 AM
After Nigeria in 2008 and 2013 and Rwanda in 2016, Burkina Faso is set to host the fourth Africa and Madagascar Congress on Divine Mercy, a weeklong continental event that will kick off on November 18 under the theme, “Divine mercy, a grace for our time."
“The Church family of God in Burkina Faso, Africa and Madagascar is preparing to live an extraordinary event that is a gathering of believers in their diversity to celebrate, promote and live the brotherhood under the Sign of divine mercy,” the Archbishop of Ouagadougou, Philippe Cardinal Ouédraogo told the media during a press briefing Thursday, October 17, convened to review the state of preparations ahead of the continental event.
“With my fellow Bishops, we are very pleased with this pastoral initiative to organize a congress on divine mercy here in Ouagadougou,” Cardinal Ouédraogo said about the Congress that will bring together over 500 delegates, among them, Cardinals, Archbishops, Bishops, priests, parish leaders and Small Christian communities, among other guests from across Africa, Madagascar and other parts of the globe.
The Congress is a response to the call of Pope St. John Paul II who wanted the people of God to "give our world new signs of hope by acting so that justice and solidarity may grow and a new culture of human life may be affirmed for the building of an authentic civilization of truth and love," Cardinal Ouédraogo disclosed during the press briefing.
The Ouagadougou Congress "will be inspired by the richness of the word of God, the magisterium of the Church and will address crucial themes such as poverty, wars, conflicts, tribalism, corruption and the evils that afflict the African continent".
The congress will also aim to deepen the knowledge of Divine Mercy, to promote the experience and practice of Divine Mercy in Africa, Madagascar and the whole world, the Cardinal who is also the President of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) said.
Organized in the form of conferences and panel discussions, plenary sessions and workshops with a few moments of reflection, the Congress will also provide an opportunity for rediscovering how and in what way Divine Mercy constitutes a grace and a force to face and take up the challenges of our time, especially in Africa and Madagascar.
"In its liturgical dimension, the Congress will include Eucharistic celebrations, adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, the sacrament of reconciliation, the hour of mercy and a pilgrimage to the shrine of Our Lady of Yagma, (a village in the Zam Department of Ganzourgou Province in central Burkina Faso) ," the Burkinabé Prelate said.
At the beginning of November, organizers of the Congress have planned to an Evening of Mercy and a day of prayer for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) living in or around Ouagadougou on November 10.
“The evening of Mercy scheduled for November 1 is an excellent opportunity to raise awareness, pass messages and at the same time raise funds to help the needy,” the Cardinal said.
"We will pray for a good representation of the displaced living among us,” he told journalists and added, “it will be an opportunity to pray for all the deceased (Christians, Muslims, Protestants) victims of the violence and at the same time we will pray for the survivors who do not know where to put their heads”.
“It is a highlight of a work of mercy, an anticipation of what we will experience in this Congress," he added.
The congress will end on November 24 with a Eucharistic celebration to be presided over by the Papal delegate to the event, Dieudonné Cardinal Nzapalainga, Archbishop of Bangui in the Central African Republic.
The Cardinal clarified that participants in the Congress will need to be believers who are concerned about celebrating, promoting and living fraternity under the sign of Divine Mercy, and speaking either French, English, Mooré or Dyula.
In addition, to be part of the Congress, participants from Burkina Faso and Niger are expected to pay about US$128 inclusive of registration, food and accommodation. The cost for delegates from other countries is approximately US$255. Participants not requiring accommodation are expected to pay US$85.
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