Solidarity with our Brothers and Sisters in Central African Republic

Subtitle: 
Visitation of fr Bruno Cadoré to the Provinical Vicariate of Equitorial Africa.
Picture: 
Fr Bruno Cadore in Bangui, Central African Republic
Body: 

It is in Bangui, Central African Republic (CAR) that the Master of the Order, brother Bruno Cadoré chose to celebrate Easter celebrations. Accompanied by his Socius for Africa, brother Gabriel Samba, they arrived in the Central African’s capital on the 31st of March 2015, Holy Wednesday. This fraternal visit which ended on April 7th was intended to comfort our five brothers, the sisters and all the Dominican family living in difficult situations since the advent of SELEKA and Anti BALAKA. It was also an opportunity to show solidarity with the families of the brothers sorely afflicted by this crisis, with the Church and the Central African people.

Brother Bruno who went to Iraq in October 2014 and Ukraine in February 2015, could not ignore the CAR and could not remain indifferent to the suffering of our brothers and sisters who also go through very difficult times but perhaps not being reported enough by the media, and therefore unknown to people. Yet there were many atrocities, massacres, raids and fires of entire villages; and people’s lives are full of misery and suffering. Camps for displaced people abound everywhere. Who will lend his voice to these voiceless to shout their unbearable distress?

At the heart of this battered population, our brothers and sisters want to be witnesses of hope, witnesses of the presence and closeness of God, witnesses of his mercy. At the height of the crisis, they chose to stay with the Central African people, despite the danger of death, looting, the unbearable rattle of weapons that tore the hearts. For those who were there, those who were suffering and dying were also human beings. The stories of the events that the brothers, sisters, and families told us are heart-breaking. Our brothers and sisters have been eloquent witnesses to an evangelical and missionary testimony.

On Holy Wednesday at 17:30, we attended the Chrism Mass presided over by His Grace Dieudonné NZAPALAINGA, Archbishop of Bangui, at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception. The Apostolic Nuncio in CAR and Chad, His Grace Franco COPPOLA was also present, and about a hundred priests concelebrating. Many religious men and women, the faithful of Christ, had invaded the cathedral which was packed. All sang with a joy that is not found in peaceful and rich countries. There, with the Master of the Order and the entire presbyterium of Bangui, we renewed our priestly promises. A feast was offered at the end of the Mass to celebrate the feast of priesthood.

We visited our sisters of St. Thomas Aquinas in Begoua neighbourhood, Dominican Missionaries of Africa (DMA) in “Combatant” neighbourhood, where we met the Dominican youth, and children called Friends of St. Dominic. The DMA who are in Mbata, in the inland part of the country, took advantage of their stay in Bangui to greet the Master of the Order. The brothers took us to their places of ministry: St Mark the Major Seminary in Bimbo, Propédeutique, the headquarters of the Conference of Major Superiors of Central African where our brother Richard Appora, superior of the community of Bangui, is the president. We visited the Archbishop of Bangui and the Apostolic Nuncio. The two prelates expressed their joy and gratitude for the presence of the Dominicans and their work in formation, particularly at the Major Seminary. They expressed their wish, that the community be strengthened and involved in the education of young people.

We had beautiful Easter celebrations in the church of the community, filled with the faithful, with so much joy and hope. Brother Bruno presided the Easter Vigil and brother Gabriel the Mass of Resurrection Sunday. On Easter Monday we had a meeting with the Dominican Family, then Mass and lunch at the brethren’s community. Finally, we visited the families of the brothers. Some brothers have lost parents, killed in the most cowardly and violently way at home, buried without dignity, we owe to the dead in Africa. We bowed to their graves. Brother Bruno only had words of comfort to the families. They were moved to see the Master of the Order visiting them in their neighbourhoods, in the camps of displaced ironically nicknamed "Ledger", the name of the largest luxury hotel in Bangui.

Despite these difficulties, people keep joy and hope in the return of peace, reconciliation and living together again with their neighbours of yesterday regardless of religious affiliation. It's hard for some people because the wounds are still open and they have thoughts of revenge, but a new Central African is possible and many believe it. It is also our prayer and hope.

For more pictures of the visitation of fr Bruno to Bangui, click here.

fr. Gabriel Samba, O.P.

 

(16 April 2015)