Here we are again with a new episode of our SMA monthly news.
In this episode, we will go to Liberia, to meet Father Gary Henkins and the blind people of Bomi County; Then we will go to Tanzania, to discover the Tanga project; And we will end in the Democratic Republic of Congo, with the formation house of Kimwenza which this year celebrates the silver jubilee of its foundation.
To begin this edition, we are going to Liberia, especially in Bomi County, where Fr. Garry Jenkins has been carrying out, for several year, a special pastoral activity with the blind people. A group of people he took in and organized in the aftermath of the country’s 2002 civil war. More precision in this reportage
This gathering is made of persons of the locality of Bomi county in liberia and they are blind people. Their story begun in 2002 during the Liberian civil war. Faced with the incapacity to flee the crisis, these blind people were rescued by Rev. Fr. Garry Jenkins, missionary in Liberia for more than 40 years.
Rév. Fr. Garry Henkins, Missionary SMA in Libéria :
In 2002 may the 13th the day before the whole town left here because there was a rebel advance and the people were afraid and fled, I remained here with the catechists Zina and Matthew the nurse. We walked through joseph town. The town was empty except for a few people with guns and then gradually when people heard us talking, they came out of their houses. I was amazed to realize there were 40- or 50-blind people, disable people, still left in the town, who could not run away. So, I said to Zina we have to stay here to try and help these people. We have proportionally more blind people here than in any other town. So, our ministry is to go out to try to help these people as much as we can.
A ministry and support which is very much appreciated by the blind community of Bomi.
Mr. Morris SIAKA, Member of the Blind Community of Bomi – Liberia :
I run away from the war, you see some of us here we are from different counties, and we are here. The only family we have is the catholic church that’s cares for us and for our family here. Every month they give us a bag of rice, and some bags with some gifts inside. We want to tell the missionaries thank you, the catholic church, for what the catholic church is doing for us. And Hamadiyya is number 2, with Mary’s meal, every month they give us few cups of rice, and nobody else is doing it. They are our family in Bomi county, for all the blind people. We tell them thank you, we tell God thank you. Thank you to Fr. Garry and all the people behind him.
Despite all efforts and appreciation, there is still a lot to do and the blind community of Bomi is appealing for the support of people of goodwill.
Mr. David TOMMY – Président of the Blind Community of Bomi (Liberia) :
Some of us have houses that are leaking. We are even thinking about this raining season coming what will be the standard of those houses, we do not have mattresses, so we are asking the missionaries and anybody behind them to help us. If they do, we don’t have anything to offer them, but to appreciate them, and to give some words of prayer, that God should bless them, and bless all their generations to come.
A cry for help that will make life, so to say, more bearable for them.
The Tanga house of the Sma Tanga project in the District of Tanzania, this year marks the first anniversary of its official opening. Opened on March 14, 2020, Tanga, is a house that aims to be a family, a haven of peace and reception for vulnerable young people and children, in particular Albinos, who in Tanzania are victims of abuse and violence, often leading to their mutilation and murder.
More details on this project in this report from the District of Tanzania.
Rév. Fr. John KILCOYNE – Superior of the SMA District of Tanzania:
We would like to introduce you to one of our projects here in Tanzania, in this district, a very important one to us, it is called the tanga project which means sailing in Kiswahili; and it’s meant specially to assist vulnerable young people and particularly those affected with albinism.
Our project tango was opened on the 14th of march last year. This is a project that while being very much an SMA project is done in full collaboration with the local authorities here in Tanzania.
Rév. Fr. Janusz Machota – Co-worker in Tanga House and Project:
I believe that God loves everyone equally but there is this special affection for those who are the most abandoned, excluded and marginalized. I do believe that this is exactly also the charism of the SMA, that is why I did join it more than 30 years ago so when I heard a few years ago about the exclusion and terrible violence done to albino people in Tanzania. And the way they have to struggle with the danger of the skin cancer, other health issues and a social exclusion. I heard the same voice: “do something about it”; and together with the SMA Tanzania in close collaboration with other groups, we decided to start Tanga which is a home and a project we would like to change the lives and give a better hope, for uh like kabula, and other of our youth and children and also to change the mentality and transformation of the Tanzanian society that all albino people are safeguarded and they have the right place in the society.
Miss Kabula MASANJA – Beneficiary and Member of the Tanga House (an Albino girl who lost her right arm in an attack, she has been 5 years in the care of the SMA)
Despite the fact that I lost everything before lived in the center, separated from the community, I thank God for his hand and for his merciful and love that He gave us the people to take over the control of my life especially in caring, education and loving, I would like to thank God and to thank everybody including the SMA Fathers for their support.
Rév. Sr. Barbara LYDKOWSKA, CSL – Co-worker in Tanga House and Project:
This is an open house, it is not a fortress to protect albino people. A lot of children from the neighborhood can come play study with our albino children and we hope, it will help to integrate them into the society in the future. God t give us dreams and miracles, one of the most important things in my life is this project and I thank the SMA for this great honor and privilege to be a sister and mother to our children, to be a part of the Tanga family.
Democratic Republic of Congo
Twenty-five years, a quarter of a century, this is what the SMA formation house in Kimwenza, in the DRC, celebrates. On this occasion, an insight is given to us of the reality and activities taken place in the house.
Located in the diocese of Kisantu, ecclesiastical province of Kinshasa, the SMA formation house of Kimwenza is made up this year of two formators and fourteen students, including seven candidates in the propaedeutic year and seven students spread over the different years of philosophy. Life in the formation house is organized around four main areas: spiritual life; intellectual life; community life, and pastoral.
The formation house has marked since 2020, a silver jubilee that has been decided to be celebrated this year through various events.
Rev. Fr. Simon-Pierre KAKIAU – Superior of the SMA Formation of Kimwenza:
There is a particularity in the life of the SMA House of formation this year, we are celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Kimwenza house. This house that you see was officially founded with the first academic year in 1995. So, normally it was last year that we were supposed to celebrate this; but given the uncertainties of the situation in which we were with the coronavirus pandemic, it is now that we are celebrating the 25th anniversary, the Silver Jubilee of the house; and it is a great joy for us to renew our will to be able to participate in the formation of our missionaries but also and above all to rethink how this mission with these new missionaries will be tomorrow. Will they have the tools that will allow them to face the mission; tools from the point of view of the missionary method, from the point of view of appreciation of realities and from the point of view of the evangelical message proposed to our peoples. So, it is a great joy for us to celebrate this Silver Jubilee and also a clarion call to all the elders who have passed through this house anywhere they are, to also think of the Kimwenza house. If they ever find the time to come back, it will always be a source of encouragement, especially for our seminarians, to see those who came before them and from their experience, to appreciate the quality of the work they do for the evangelization of the peoples of Africa. This is the particularity of the SMA House of formation in Kimwenza this year.
– On March 25 and 26, a working session was held by videoconference for the contact persons of the “On Road to 2026” program. This meeting took place following the decisions of the meeting of last January 12, of the SMA-NDA commission on the Common Spiritual Heritage, to collect testimonies in order to give life to the experiential phase of the said program.
– A summary of the canonical visit of the Superior General and Fr. Christopher Pachut to the Democratic Republic of Congo:
The first canonical visit of this mandate was to Democratic Republic of Congo. Fr Christopher and I arrived in Kinshasa on Friday February 13th and we left for Rome two weeks later on Thursday, February 25th 2021.
We visited the four SMA communities in the city of Kinshasa: the Kimwenza Formation House including preparatory programme and philosophy; St Barthélemy Parish in Masina local government; St Thimotée Parish with its Secondary and Boarding School in Ndjili Brasserie local government, and the Siforco SMA District House, near the international airport of Kinshasa Ndjili.
We took two days to visit the SMA sites located in the Batéké Plateau, around 150 km from Kinshasa: St Thomas Aquinas Parish in Mampu, opened by the SMA in January 2020, the Mampu Farm comprising 135 hectares at about 15 km from the Parish and the Kinsélé site, 50 km further, where the District has rented 1,200 hectares of land for a project of cattle breeding.
Currently 12 members (11 Congolese and 1 Togolese) and Daniel, a Nigerian stagiaire are appointed in the District. Other fifteen members of the District are missionaries outside the Congo.
After this visit I would like to underline three points of strength for the District of Congo:
– The District House at Siforco, now almost completed. It gives solidity to the District and reinforces its responsibility for the mission of SMA in the country.
– The good number of seminarians in training and the good spirit prevailing in the Kimwenza House of formation.
– The members’ strong commitment to take the challenges of the Parish and the agricultural project in the Batéké Plateau.
A big thank you to Fr Jean Baptiste Musa Bino and to all the members for the joy and fraternity of their welcome.
– “The new SMA bulletin is now ready. The theme that guides this bulletin is “Mission amidst crisis”. You will get your copy very soon. It has interesting articles about how mission continued and continues in the midst of various crises”.
We wish everyone a very Happy Easter Season!