, 21 February, 2020 / 5:02 AM
At the conclusion of the 33rd General Assembly of the Women's Union of Indigenous Congregations of Central Africa (UFCAAC), that brought together Major Superiors of indigenous religious congregations in central Africa, participants resolved to foster reconciliation in the region.
“Reminding ourselves that the source of everything is the Word of God, becoming authentic schools of evangelical spirituality implies a solid and deep spiritual life a dynamic life with a constant renewal of our commitments,” reads in part a statement released at the end of the 4-day meeting availed to ACI Africa.
According to the major superiors, “To live reconciliation in the Church remains a requirement and a necessity. It takes precedence over sacrifice because it is a necessary element to make peace prevail in the world.”
“Various ways of reconciliation are proposed to us, among others, community and individual penitential celebrations, the purification of our memories, of our being and fraternal correction,” the statement reads further.
The February 16-19 meeting that took place in Cameroon’s economic capital, Douala was held under the theme, “Reconciliation, Communion, Justice and Peace: a pressing mission in our Institutions and in our world.”
The Church in the Central Africa sub-region is concerned about the tense socio-political and economic climate, marked by inter-ethnic conflicts, technological and infrastructural underdevelopment, unemployment, violence and political struggles.
Major Superiors of the indigenous religious congregations of Congo Brazzaville, Chad, Central African Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon and Cameroon attended the meeting.
The Sisters of the diocesan congregations of Central Africa believe that the time has come to contribute more, in the Church and in their respective communities and countries, to the advent of reconciliation, communion, justice and peace.
Speaking about the importance of the sub-regional gathering, the Local Ordinary of Douala Archdiocese, Archbishop Samuel Kleda, who presided at the opening Mass on Sunday February 16, said, "In Africa, in the sub-region and not only in Cameroon, there are cases of tension everywhere.”
“The people are divided, the leaders are, on the one hand, living in affluence, while the people are, on the other hand, languishing in poverty and misery,” Archbishop Kleda lamented.
The role of the Church, through Consecrated Persons, is to "bring something positive, in the sense of bringing people to work together, to live as brothers and sisters, and to truly love one another,” Archbishop Kleda added.
The Archbishop of Douala also highlighted the role of women in the process of reconciliation saying, “Women also have a great role to play in this context, as the Sisters can definitely bring a lot in this quest for reconciliation in the countries of Central Africa.”
Explaining the context of the meeting, the President of UFCAAC, Sr Marguerite Marie Elomo, General superior of the Daughters of Mary of Yaounde, Cameroon said, “we meet every year to discuss a topic of national or ecclesial or current affairs in one of our respective countries.”
Given the difficulties that the sub-region is going through, Sr Elomo stated, "we met in Cameroon, in Douala, to reflect on peace, reconciliation and justice".
“This is a pressing mission that falls to us as indigenous religious sisters,” Sr Elomo said and added, “we have a great role to play, first in our communities and then in our different apostolic environments, where we must promote the culture of peace.”
On his part, Sr Claire Liliane Obone Bibale, General Superior of the Congregation of the Sisters of Saint Mary of Gabon, noted that, “Justice and peace are part of what the world needs, given the great scourges and crises that we are experiencing in the sub-region.”
“We want to be, at our level, in our religious families, and in our countries, the grains of salt that seek to bring, in their own way, a little more to the action of the political leaders of our respective countries,” Sr Obone said and continued, “As leaders of congregations and as women sent on missions, we have a message of peace, love, communion and reconciliation to give to those closest to us, especially those with whom we work.”
For Sr Lydia Portella, who heads the Family of Missionary Sisters of Nazareth in Pointe Noire, Republic of Congo, the UFCAAC General Assembly was, “indeed an opportunity to deal much more deeply with the chosen theme by living “in our communities, as the Gospel asks us to do, we will also help our brothers and sisters in mission to live it.”
Some of the participants are leaving the meeting with the intention to share the lessons learnt with fellow Sisters and the faithful.
“I will share with my sisters, and those who will help us better support the populations who are victims of the Anglophone crisis,” Sr. Rose Chantal Jazet, General Superior of the Sisters of the Holy Family of Bafoussam, a town in the West region of Cameroon, close the troubled North West Region.
The next General assembly of UFCAAC will take place in N'djamena, Chad from February 13 to 18, 2021 on the theme "Consecrated Life in Africa: Prophetic Witness and Hope for the Vulnerable in our Societies.”
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