Ordained in 2005, Fr. Jacques has worked as an SMA missionary priest in three different countries, speaking three different official languages i.e English, French and Portuguese. I had the opportunity to interview him about his rich experience when he visited our office at 150 Lyon and here is what he said…
My name is MAHUTIN Jacques Alain. I was born on July 22, 1976 in Kpangouin, Ivory Coast. I did my primary and undergraduate studies at Man and Guiglo High School. It was in Guiglo that I felt the desire to become a priest and that, with the help of the vocational group and vocation directors, my desire to become a missionary was revealed. I discovered the Society of African Missions thanks to my pastor, the late Hubert Daudé, and after a year of stay (like a little internship) with him in the parish, I joined the SMA in 1997, in Ebimpé, where I studied philosophy. I took my first oath at Calavi in 2000, the internship at Afram Plains in Ghana, and after 4 years of theology at Tangaza College in Nairobi, I was ordained a priest on July 2, 2005 in St Michel d Adjamé, Abidjan by Mgr. Michel Cartateguy, sma.
As my first assignment, I was sent to Kenya (English-speaking country) at Mary Mother of God parish in Embulbul, Nairobi, where, unfortunately, I stayed only a few months before being assigned to St. Joseph’s Little Parish of Jericho with Father Alain Bikini as Parish Priest, and that because of the departure of Kevin Mc Garry. For three years, I was the youth chaplain of the parish and deanery of Makadara (which had seven parishes). Working with the youth was very enlightening. I learned a lot from them, even if it was sometimes difficult. But I also had very difficult experiences, especially the year I spent as a parish priest (2008-2009). This difficult period made me grow in maturity especially and progress in many areas. And God taught me a lot. Prayer helped me there. One thing I will never forget is the support I received from Christians, and especially from the Catholic Women’s Association, during my short time as Parish Priest. After leaving Kenya in August 2009, I was appointed to Abidjan and worked for two years at St. Michel parish in Adjamé, where I had been ordained. Working at Adjamé gave me the joy of being an SMA. As it is said, Adjamé is a small ECOWAS where several nationalities and several ethnic groups of the country meet. I worked with Father Roustan in the Small Christian Communities and I learned a lot from him. Being a chaplain of some adult
movements and, with Father Giovanni, being chaplain of adult catechesis, all this helped me to discover other aspects of pastoral care.
The real challenges came with the elections and the civil war that followed. A challenge for me as a priest was to try as much as possible to be neutral in public, even if, as an Ivorian, I had also taken sides. We had to pray and work for peace. I participated with Father Roustan in several interreligious meetings on non-violence and gave many lessons through the experience I had of the political crisis in Kenya. That was my contribution to peace.
Today, I work in Angola where I arrived in September 2011. Since February 2015 I am parish priest of BomPastor, with fathers Etienne N’Guessan as vicar and Lorenzo Adorni (the former priest) as resident. The people are very hospitable and kind. In Kicolo we have many chapels (each with its own secondary stations, which we call ‘prayer areas’), which we visit every morning and every Sunday. Unfortunately due to insecurity, we cannot have meetings with groups or movements in the evenings as we did in Abidjan, so activities are concentrated on Saturdays and Sundays; in truth it is a big obstacle, because meeting all the groups, movements and choirs, is not easy especially since the chapels are already as big as parishes. One of the big challenges of our mission is the impassability of roads, which makes us spend a lot of money on car repairs and insecurity. Another challenge of our mission is the lack of priests. We are in all 7 SMA priests in Angola with 4 parishes (3 urban and rural we do not want to lose) and a preparatory seminary: too many things with few people. We would like to leave a parish but the lack of priests in the diocese (the diocese has a total of 10 diocesan priests, 7 of whom are young people sent to the seminary by Fathers Luigino and Renzo) obliges us to continue this way and it is often very exhausting.
I hope that the new structures will not kill the SMA missionary spirit, and that the members of the Society will continue to go “ad gentes”. To be an SMA is to surrender oneself to serve Christ among the poorest.
God bless the SMA.
Dominic Wabwireh, SMA