Sharing Christ Across Cultures and Faiths


FORTY YEARS OF XAVERIAN MISSIONARY PRESENCE IN CAMEROON AND CHAD, AFRICA

Fathers Gianni Abeni and Francesco Benigno were the first Xaverians to arrive in Cameroon on September 5, 1982, in Douala, in the parish of Oyack. In the north of the country, in the diocese of Yagoua, parish of Djougoumta, Fathers Armando Coletto, Michele D’Erchie, and Mario Maniero. A few weeks later the group destined for Chad arrived. It was composed of Fathers Sergio Favarin, Salvador Romano and Gianfranco Sana. They opened the Xaverian presence in the mission of Gounou-Gaya, the Diocese of Pala.

The opening in Cameroon and Chad was born following the expulsion of the Xaverians from Burundi in the years 1980-81. The Xaverians decided to settle on both banks of the Logone, a river that separates the two countries. They opened further south a presence around the large city of Douala and later another in the capital Yaoundé (Cameroon).

Initially, an opening in the capital was not planned. But the Congo Region was looking for a place to install the theological community, which is how historical circumstances led to its opening in Yaoundé in 1986. With the foundation of the international theologate, young Xaverians from different countries arrived. The Xaverians were also open to local vocations and founded a formation house in Bafoussam (Cameroon). Currently, the Cameroon-Chad Region has about thirty missionaries and about forty young people in training, including philosophers and theologians. Thus, slowly, the dream of the founder of the Xaverian Missionaries, Saint Guido Maria Conforti, is realized: “To make the whole world one family in Christ”.

Missionary work in Chad is usually carried out with people with little or no schooling, in rural areas such as Gounou Gaya and Djdo-Tagal or in centers of relative importance such as Bongor and the outskirts of N’Djamena (Chadian capital). Here, the work of evangelization is accompanied by that of human development. In recent years, the Xaverians have been running the radio of the diocese of Pala, which is committed to human promotion and discreetly transmits Christian values. In northern Chad, and more precisely in the vicariate of Mongo, the Xaverians opened a new presence, a little over four years ago, in a Muslim environment in the small town of Bitkine.

In the south of Cameroon, the Church is well organized and is moving towards autonomy. The Xaverians work mainly in the outskirts of the cities, with the exception of a temporary presence in Benakuma. The priorities of pastoral work are to form basic Christian communities in the neighborhoods and to train leaders to take charge of the various ecclesial services. The catechumenate, especially that of young people and adults, is always one of the priorities. Communities managed by the Xaverians grew and organized rapidly. After a few years of missionary presence, the need arose to leave the charge of these communities to the local priests in order to be able to open new missionary fronts where there was a greater need.

A strategy that is still being developed is that of Missionary and Vocational Animation in a Church where there is already a sufficiently important apostolic potential: men and women religious, priests and laity sufficiently mature. There are also missionaries who work abroad. Gradually, it is believed that the laity can also join the mission ad gentes.

Fr. Antonio Lopez Villaseñor, SX


Mission Blog: Cardinal Sean O’Malley’s Statement of Migrants Unexpectedly Flown to Massachusetts from Florida

Immigration policies and practices stand as an abiding moral, legal and political challenge to our Commonwealth and our country. We have delayed far too long in developing an effective response to immigrants, migrants, and refugees at a moment when the movement of men, women, children, and families surpasses any other known example in our history. 

Our common humanity is the lens through which our response to immigrants and refugees must be judged.  Pope Francis has made the plight of immigrants and refugees a constant theme of his pontificate. The Holy Father’s witness, in word and deed, has been based on understanding immigrants and refugees as pilgrims forced by socio-economic conditions, human rights abuses, and the climate crisis to leave their homes in search of safety, security, and stability for themselves and their families. 

This week the humanity and vulnerability that immigrants and refugees share have come home to us in Massachusetts.  The Venezuelan refugees have come from a situation of enormous oppression and suffering in their own country. 

As is often the case, human tragedy evokes moral goodness. The citizens of Martha’s Vineyard have shown us all how common humanity motivates generosity and effective kindness. I commend young and old for their example and effective response.  More


Xaverian Missionaries USA Celebrate 75 Years of Missionary Presence

The Xaverian Missionaries of New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Wisconsin were joined by Bishop Robert Reed for a celebration of the anniversary. Three of our priests could not be present.

The Xaverian Missionaries USA celebrate 75 years of presence in the United States. Celebrations were held at Our Lady of Fatima Shrine in Holliston, Massachusetts where the first founding of our presence took place.

On September 8, 1946, Cardinal Cushing of the Archdiocese of Boston blessed our first established community in Holliston, Massachusetts, where Our Lady of Fatima Shrine was first established, as well as the high school seminary. The shrine was to be a place of spiritual pilgrimage and missionary awareness and response. From here the Xaverian Missionaries pushed west to Franklin, Wisconsin, and the enlargement of our first seminary founded in Holliston. Since then we have established communities in Chicago and San Jose, California, campus ministry positions in Illinois, and directorship of the African Faith and Justice Network for a period in Washington DC. In 1967 we established our headquarters, the Provincial House, in Wayne, New Jersey. September 5th through 11th, 2022 we brought together Xaverian Missionaries from throughout the country, friends, and benefactors for days of dialogue and celebrations.

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75th Anniversary Celebration at Fatima Shrine


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