70 Years of Friendship and Support: “Friends of African Missions” Association

Dominic Wabwireh avatar

Journée de l'Amitié - Nantes

On May 3, 1954, a heartfelt initiative took root as a group of dedicated men gathered to form the “Friends of the Naudières House” association in Rézé, France, under the chairmanship of Mr. Pierre HUCHET. United by their shared bond as former seminarians, their mission was clear: to offer support to their friends who continued their journey into priesthood.

Year after year, the association organized a special gathering known as “Friendship Day,” a cherished occasion where an array of items ranging from books and household goods to stamp collections and masks were sold. The proceeds from these sales were directed towards supporting the missionary endeavors of the Society of African Missions (SMA) Fathers, particularly in Africa.

As time progressed, the association underwent a transformation, recognizing the desire of couples and other friends to play an active role in their noble cause. Thus, the association’s name was changed to better reflect its new status. Today, the association is known as the Association of Friends of African Missions, which has also enlisted the generous support of volunteers for its activities.

This year, the SMA fathers proposed a 19-minute film highlighting the missionary work in the Central African Republic. The film provides a poignant glimpse into the lives of missionaries, emphasizing the importance of treating the Pygmies with dignity and respect. According to Father Pierre BOUCHET, every human being deserves to be respected, and the Pygmies are no exception. This goal is central to evangelization.

The collective efforts of all those involved in organizing these events are driven by a unity of sentiment and purpose. Beyond the sale of items, participants are invited to enjoy an authentic African meal, offering families the opportunity to immerse themselves in the mission and spirit of the SMA.

However, despite the camaraderie and shared sense of purpose, challenges loom on the horizon. The dwindling number of vocations, coupled with an aging team of fathers, association members, and volunteers, casts a shadow of uncertainty over the continuity of activities.

Nonetheless, the spirit of friendship endures, with the “Friendship Day” becoming a cherished tradition celebrated every first weekend of March.

Today, under the leadership of Mr. Michel GROSSEAU, assisted by Mr. André ORHON, the association continues to forge new friendships and networks. It is not just a time for transactions, but a precious opportunity to reconnect with missionary and lay friends, where laughter and sincere conversations illuminate the corridors and halls.

As we reflect on 70 years of unwavering friendship and support, the legacy of the “Friends of African Missions” association bears witness to the enduring spirit of compassion, unity, and solidarity in service to others.

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