History of the Marian Mission in Africa
The Marians established their first missions in Africa in 1984, first in Rwanda, and then in Cameroon. Presently, there are 10 missionaries serving in both countries. They provide pastoral and social ministry in their parishes and educational services to the youth and children. They also provide spiritual and charismatic ministry.
Character of the Marian Missions
The Marian mission in Rwanda has been placed within a specific social, cultural, and political environment.
- Before the war, we were growing the Church through organizing chapels and schools.
- During the war, we assisted refugees through our ministry in the refugee camps.
- After the war, we undertook the ministry of reconciliation for traumatized and wounded people, helping them to find peace, forgiveness, and a sense of life.
Our mission in Cameroon can be described as assistance in restoring back to life both the people and structures. Through repairing old ruined buildings and making new constructions, we restored to the mission its old splendor and functionality. We proclaim hope to fallen people, educate them, set free from fear and poverty, and lead them to a dignified way of life.
Calling for Mercy
This is how we could name our African Missions, since the theological basis of our mission is proclaiming and practicing mercy. We undertook this challenge in Cameroon by creating communities of Divine Mercy. We now have 25 communities, that recite the Divine Mercy Chaplet and get involved in helping the poor. In April 2004, the Bishop established the Shrine of the Divine Mercy, the only such shrine in Cameroon, and entrusted its care to the Marians.
Shrine and Apostolate activities
We organized a large pilgrimage for the Feast of the Divine Mercy. In 2004, 1000 people participated in a walking pilgrimage to the Shrine. In 2005, the number was greater. In 2006, the pilgrims also arrived, regardless of the rain.
In the Shrine, we hold retreats and sessions for all groups and movements.
We assist the poor and the sick, especially people with AIDS.
We create for the young people the “foyer” – a formation center where they can learn a trade and receive the basic formation necessary for independent life.
We organized a group of animators or leaders with whom we spread the Divine Mercy message and spirituality through the entire diocese.
Following St. Faustina’s example as an “Apostle of the Divine Mercy”, and in the spirit of the Lord’s commandment given to Faustina (“In the Old Covenant I sent prophets wielding thunderbolts to my people. Today I am sending you with my Mercy to the people of the whole world” - Diary, 1588), we visited 20 parishes in our diocese with Divine Mercy Animation – conferences, singing, celebration, as well as a theatrical performance.
We also try to root the Divine Mercy message into the hearts and minds of the Africans by using their culture and customs, and we try to improve their customs by offering them the victory of love and mercy over the vengeance and hatred.
We translate prayers and songs into local dialects. We also use African art to bring the Merciful Christ and The Divine Mercy closer to people.
In particular, we help families. The African family is in great need of The Divine Mercy. The majority of families live outside any kind of wedding bonds, whether traditional, legal, or religious. They often maintain polygamy. Such bad heathen habits deprive (divest) women of all dignity and condemn children to poverty.
Apart from pastoral and spiritual activity, the need for Mercy includes social works: for example, development of the formation center where we provide assistance for the poor and the sick. We assist the handicapped and suffering people by providing them with wheelchairs, tools for trade, and by teaching them to be independent.