The Dominican Brothers in Malabo Celebrate their Feast Day

The Dominican Brothers in Malabo

On Sunday, the 15th of December 2013, the brothers and the entire Christian community of "Parroquia Santa Maravillas de Jesús" celebrated the feast day of their parish. The solemn Mass was presided over by Fr Francisco Panera, parish priest. He was surrounded by brothers Roberto Okón Pocó, superior of the community; Gabriel Samba, Socius of the Master of the Order of Preachers for Africa in a fraternal visit to Malabo and Fr Benjamin Bosega Barila, Rector of the Minor Seminary of Malabo. Several religious and nearly a thousand worshipers took part in this celebration during which thirty children made their First Communion. Other priests (Claretians, Verbum Dei, pastor of the Cathedral) joined the party after Masses in their own parishes.

For the new Dominican foundation in Malabo, Santa Maravillas de Jesús parish is a good place for visibility and integration into the local Church. It is a privileged place for preaching, apostolic outreach, hospitality and fellowship, especially for the many Christian immigrants in this country experiencing an oil boom. The welcome of the stranger, their protection, the recognition of their dignity and their rights in a country where foreigners especially Africans are not always welcome, are important aspects of pastoral care of our brothers in Malabo.

Blessed on the 12th of December 2012 by His Grace, Ildefonso Obama Obono, Archbishop of Malabo, Santa Maravillas de Jesús is one of the most beautiful and vibrant parishes of Malabo. It is located in Perez neighborhood, not far from the big Malabo stadium that hosted the 2012 CAN. The enormous extent of its territory is a major pastoral challenge for the brothers who are only two, particularly with regards to the many Pentecostal churches that abound in the area and have taken many faithful. The two Sunday Masses, one at 10:00 am (always full) and the second in the evening (uncrowded) are not sufficient to meet this challenge.

However, each year the parish registers around 400 baptisms and 150 first communions. Every three months there is baptism of infants of one to two years. However, marriages are rare. In 2013 there was only one. Youth and adults are involved in apostolate movements: Legion of Mary, Carmelite group, choirs, etc. The brothers are involved in catechesis, biblical and Christian formation of adults, particularly with the School of Theology for the laity which they are responsible, preaching retreats and recollections in religious communities.

The foundation of Equatorial Guinea is a mission of the Dominican province of Spain in collaboration with the Dominican province of Colombia. On March 1, 2009 the first two brothers from the Province of Spain arrived in Malabo. They were joined by three brothers from Colombia although all three have now returned, but with the hope that others will soon come to join the small community of Malabo that is making its merry way with courage and hope. The community is also ready to welcome brothers from Africa, even for a short stay, in order to strengthen links and collaboration with the Inter-Africa (IAOP).

Fr. Gabriel Samba, OP

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(08 January 2014)