The Dominican community of Bangui reduced to two brothers

la communauté de Bangui

They are only two brothers in the community of Bangui in the Central African Republic: brothers Richard Appora and Justin Ndéma. The third brother, Pierre-Chrysologue Toulou is extraconventum, he lives at the Major Seminary in Bangui. The other two brothers who make up the community: Ilitch Ewolo and Ponce Nérée Miantoko left Bangui on Saturday morning January 11, 2014. They went to Cameroon for a breather: Ilitch in Douala and Ponce in Yaoundé.

It is hard to leave, even if for a moment, because we leave behind, the other brothers of the community, parents, friends and the people of God who so need our presence in this particularly difficult time. It is also hard to stay in this difficult situation, living under tension in insecurity and uncertainty. This is the situation of the community of Bangui, a tiny community, new and very fragile. The house was just opened in September 2012, and the brothers were quickly integrated into the local Church. They teach at the Major Seminary, they preach retreats and recollections. They are building the community chapel. Two brothers are gone, and the others have remained in solidarity with parents, families, friends and all the Central African people. It is a Gospel testimony, with the courage of martyrdom.

From afar we do not realize the reality in which our brothers and sisters live, because nobody tells us about it, and what the media says is sometimes far from the reality on site. Many of our brothers have lost their parents: the mother of Br Octave Lionel was shot dead at home, the father of Br Romaric Mandaba was killed at his home with knives, that of Br Merlin Cyriaque Lambaty-Koy was kidnapped and murdered, he was found dead. The uncle of Br Leon Cyrille Keressé was murdered ... and the list is far from exhaustive. Houses and property were looted and vandalized, churches and mosques desecrated. Thousands of people are still displaced and live in dire conditions in churches, mosques, at the airport.

On the 27th of November 2013, the Master of the Order, Br Bruno Cadoré gave me this message for our brothers and sisters in Bangui: « I think especially of the brothers and sisters who are in the Central African Republic and of the challenges that people are facing, the extreme difficulty of the uncertainty and the risks of violence. I am sure that the Dominican family brings this concern into the presence of God, asking Him at this time that leads us to the Nativity, "to guide our feet into the way of peace." I am particularly pleased to know that our brothers are present with the people of this country, thinking of them and all their loved ones.»

This Sunday, January 12 the situation was calm unlike yesterday and the night that followed the announcement of the resignation of the transitional president, Michel Djotodja, despite the jubilation expressed by the population. The brothers celebrated the Mass of the Baptism of the Lord with a large congregation. Our Dominican sisters are well. The two younger sisters of St Thomas Aquinas (PK12) who have sought refuge in the parish for safety reasons returned to their community 3 days ago. The DMA (Combattant) are doing well and are preparing to go to Mbayiki for a solemn profession in Mbata. Br Toulou went to his village in Moungoumba. Do not forget our brothers and sisters in our prayers. A short message or call would comfort them.

Fr. Gabriel Samba, OP

(12 January 2014)