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Catholics, Muslims in Collaboration to Build New Catholic School in a Liberian Diocese

Logo of the Society of African Missions (SMA). Credit: SMA

Catholics and Muslims are collaborating in the ongoing construction of a Catholic school under the auspices of members of the Society of African Missions (SMA) at a village in Liberia’s Gbarnga Diocese.

"We have decided to build a Catholic school. The head of the village assured us of collaboration and now Christians and Muslims are building the new school together,” Fr. Lorenzo Snider, a member of the SMA, has been quoted as saying in a news report published September 11.

Financed by donations from St. Sebastiano Villa di Chiavenna Parish of Italy’s Como Diocese, the Catholic school initiative is set to benefit members of the community irrespective of their religious affiliation, including dozens of children who are expected to shift from the shack where they were studying, Fr. Snider further says.

“It is an experience of interreligious communion, both Catholics and Muslims, because the school belongs to everyone,” the Italian-born missionary Priest further says in the report by Agenzia Fides, the news agency for the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.

Hundreds of children who did not have access to formal education are set to benefit from the collaborative initiative, Fr. Snider says, and explains, "Here in the district, there were 500 children without access to education. To bring the concrete we had to repair the road and build wooden bridges. They hadn't seen a car for ten years.”

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Members of SMA in Liberia collaborate with Catechists to plan and implements initiatives at the grassroots in what the September 11 news report has described as “a simple but extraordinary experience because they (Catechists) take time away from work in the fields and from families to participate in the meetings.”

Members of the Catholic Society are also involved in initiatives benefiting dozens of widows, orphans, people with disabilities, as well as a pastoral activity in which 300 young people of the Catholic Children Organization are engaged to be missionaries among their peers.

"In recent months we went to meet other young people to invite them to join the movement. It was exciting to see them, enthusiastic and happy, talking and offering them a Christian experience,” Fr. Snider has been quoted as saying in the September 11 news report by Agenzia Fides.

“In addition to this, in recent years, through the Fraternité Laïque Missionnaire (FLM), the Fathers of the SMA have strengthened the ‘Foya Health Center’, a medical center where doctors, nurses and pedagogical assistants carry out a year of volunteer work,” Agenzia Fides has reported.

Since 2013, members of SMA in Liberia have been working toward the reconstruction and return of Christianity in Foya, which had been crippled by the 1990, and 2004 civil wars.

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Despite the tragedies of Ebola and COVID-19, Fr. Snider acknowledges with appreciation the vitality and humor of the Liberians and their resilience in the face of tragedies.

"There are positive elements to be valued, especially young people. The Church must walk with them. For those who accept the Gospel, the responsibility is to work together for the good of all,” the priest has been quoted as saying in the report.