The Missionaries of Africa and the Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Africa in Brussels, Belgium, opened the 150th Anniversary on December 2, 2018, surrounded by people from various denominations, countries and the parishioners of St. Michael’s Chapel, on Clovis Street.
The small community of White Fathers on Clovis Street serves St Michael’s Chapel, where prayer groups from various denominations, countries, and Sunday parishioners gather. So they advanced the date of the 150th Jubilee celebration to December 2, and it was a success.
Some reactions: “What a beautiful chapel, what beautiful rhythmic hymns!” “There were many Africans.” “We did not know that the Fathers and Sisters had done such good work in Africa!” “It was very enjoyable, the meals and the encounters!” The words of the homily were powerful and encouraging.”
The chapel and the Eucharist of the first Sunday of Advent saw an unusual and colorful assembly with festive accents. Many friends of the community of the Missionaries of Africa came to surround them, 14 Missionary Sisters and 8 Fathers were there to celebrate the beginning of our foundation 150 years ago.
Opening to what is different – one aspect of being missionary
Fr. Georges Jacques, assistant to the Provincial of Europe presided over the ceremony and gave the homily. Here is a quote: “Because of our charism we want to be bearers of hope over and over again by our prophetic attitude. We want to testify, by the very composition of our communities and by our commitment to the laity and with the laity, that it is possible, that it is good, that it is rewarding, that it is evangelical to live together as children of God from different backgrounds, cultures, races and religions. Open to what is different by our very faith, we proclaim by our witness of life that the future of the world and of the Church is in the welcome, the respect and even in the positive appreciation of the great variety of men and women today. That’s what it is to be a missionary today.”
A few singers and guitarists, mostly Africans, animated the very prayerful and joyful celebration. The Mass ended with the singing of the Sancta Maria and the sending to Nigeria of Father Johan Miltenburg (from the Clovis community).
A video, “The time of the pioneers” (by Fr. Manu Quertemont) brought back to life the missionary beginnings of our two Institutes. We, the Sisters had prepared panels at the exit of the chapel where photos showed the Sisters of yesterday and today and the future of the Congregation: the taking of vows of the young professed sisters.
The feast continued of course with a meal: delicious dishes from different countries. The joy was at its height with the ceremony of the Jubilee cake (made by our sister Simone Dislaire)
The M.Afr Provincial Gérard Chabanon and our leader of the Entity Europe-South, Madeleine Closset delivered a congratulatory toast for our 150th anniversary.
Let us give thanks to God for this beautiful event and thanks to Magloire Bamali who organized this festival.
Sr. Monique Bonami, Missionary Sister of Our Lady of Africa, Brussels, Belgium