By Sr Donatira Tusiime, Goma, D.R.C.
Warm greetings from the community of Goma. I would like to share with you the joyful experience of living fraternity and communion as a Lavigerie Family “FALA” in the diocese of Goma. The Lavigerie Family is a group composed of 5 very active branches.
- FAMAG. Family of Missionaries of Africa of Goma “Relatives of sisters and fathers”.
- FAMA. Fraternity of Former Missionaries of Africa
- AMA. Friends of Missionaries of Africa
- Missionaries of Africa and Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Africa
Each group has its own objective to reach but what unites us as FALA is three words of Cardinal Lavigerie; Apostle, Love and Africa.
When I see these committed lay people, I am always impressed by the fact that they see themselves as apostles. They try to live this, starting with their families, their neighborhoods as well as their witness in daily life.
They live the attitude of love that they show through their commitment and communion in moments of joy as well as sorrow. They make efforts to overcome the barriers of tribalism to live the brotherhood that is a great challenge here.
They see that being African is a value and they live it as missionaries by loving African values especially solidarity. In living this, they are inspired by the love of Africa that Cardinal Lavigerie had encouraged these missionaries to live: “I have loved everything in Africa…”
We live this time of fraternity and communion through our various meetings and events that bring us together for example ordinations, perpetual vows, mourning and weddings, sessions and recollections.
Recently we had the joy of participating in the celebration of perpetual vows, of congratulating and welcoming our Sister Pascaline Katungu in the great Lavigerian Family of Goma. Personally, I appreciated very much their initiative and commitment for the success of this celebration. We had a thanksgiving mass as well as sharing the festive meal accompanied by gifts and dances. As a community, we were touched by this gesture of love and the family spirit that the big family showed us.
In a special way, I take more time with the AMA group. I find them very active, committed and taking a lot of initiatives. Every last Thursday of the month they meet for adoration and mass. During this time, they take advantage of praying for all the events experienced during the month, especially the anniversaries. They are organized to create awareness in all the parishes of the city of Goma to make themselves known. I enjoy accompanying them in these outings because it helps to make us known and encourage others to be part of our mission.
AMA group after the monthly mass:
As a Lavigerie Family, we agreed to broadcast on Radio Maria to make these five groups known. We are currently preparing how our programs will take place.
I have been in this group for a few months and I collaborate with Father Baraka Jean Noel, Missionary of Africa who is the chaplain of FALA. I participate in the meetings to give my small contributions, for example, to help in the preparation of the mass and the radio broadcasts because from time to time they ask questions about us, the MSOLA. My presence is much appreciated and it encourages them as they often tell me. What impresses me a lot in this group is the special attention, the love and the communion that they have in difficult moments and in moments of joy. It challenges me to see how I live my life as an apostle this attitude that was so dear to Cardinal Lavigerie. Being with the members of this group helps me to be more open to the laity and to live better the collaboration with the Missionaries of Africa. It is a call to be more open to the laity so that they can share in our mission.
I am really grateful to God for all that I am living with FALA, for discovering our mission and also for my community that does not stop supporting me in this mission through their listening, encouragement and participation.