Launching of the pastoral year 2023-2024 and solemn opening of the Cause of Beatification of Cardinal Paul ZOUNGRANA
Pastoral agent in communion with the Christian family, be a witness of Christ
This is the theme of this pastoral year 2023-2024. It was launched on Wednesday, September 27, 2023, at Ouagadougou Cathedral during the mass presided over by His Eminence Cardinal Philippe OUEDRAOGO, Metropolitan Archbishop of Ouagadougou (who has just been relieved from his service as archbishop). During this celebration there was the solemn opening of the cause for the beatification of Cardinal Paul ZOUNGRANA, one of the first three Burkinabé priests.
As part of the march towards the 125th anniversary of evangelization in Burkina Faso (1900-2025), the Church family of Burkina invites each Christian to engage in the Church according to their particular vocation. For the smooth running of this jubilee, we began with the year of the laity which will end in January 2024. This same year which will be devoted to the mission of pastoral agents made me reflect on our theme of the 26th general chapter:
The love of the Risen Christ calls us to walk together without fear, in collaboration with others!
As a community, we are called to collaborate with our local Church. Therefore, at the request of our priest who wants pastoral agents to come close to the different groups and movements of the parish to accompany them and assure them of their presence and proximity, we responded to his call. I found this theme to be an invitation for us MSOLA to see how our lifestyle brings us close to the people around us and to those we meet in our places of apostolate.
Visits to neighborhoods and our presence in prayer with the Basic Ecclesial Community are ways of being in communion with the Christian family. Pray for us so that our presence will be active in our relationships with the faithful of the local Church. May we be able to witness to the risen Christ by being in communion with the Christian family and by walking together towards the jubilee of 125 years of evangelization of the country.
This year, the opening of the jubilee year of 125 years of evangelization in Burkina Faso also marks 81 years of ordination of Burkinabé priests. It was on May 2, 1942 that Burkina Faso (Upper Volta at that time) had its first three sons ordained priests: Father Joseph Ouedraogo, Father Zacharie Nikiema, and Cardinal Paul Zoungrana for whom the cause of beatification was opened. It was a joy to unite with the Church Family of Ouagadougou and to participate in this Eucharistic celebration during which we discovered that the procedures for opening the cause of beatification have been initiated.
Cardinal Paul Zoungrana, in addition to being among the first three Burkinabé priests, was the first cardinal of West Africa but also the first cardinal of the Missionaries of Africa (the evangelizers of Burkina Faso). In fact, on September 24, 1948 after 6 years as a diocesan priest, he entered the society of the Missionaries of Africa. He was created cardinal by Pope Paul VI in 1965. He actively participated in the Second Vatican Council and he gave his contribution by delivering one of the messages at the conclusion of the Council. He also participated in the conclaves which elected popes John Paul I and John Paul II.
This story of the jubilee and the life of Cardinal Paul Zoungrana can help us review the fruitfulness of the mission of our founder whom the Good Lord used to send apostles to several African countries. In his spiritual testament, Cardinal Lavigerie writes:
O my dear Africa. I had sacrificed everything to you seventeen years ago, when pushed by a force which was visibly that of God, I left everything to devote myself to your service, I was only the voice of the desert calling those who must trace the paths to the Gospel. So, I die without having been able to do anything for you other than suffer and through my suffering prepare apostles for you.
The apostles he prepared did their part and the Church of Burkina Faso is alive. It is a thanksgiving for the life of Cardinal Lavigerie because his love for Africa bore good fruit. He who participated in the Vatican Council and I as cardinal of Africa, his son, also took part in that of Vatican II as African bishop.
Let us pray for this cause of beatification not only for its success but above all for the Church family of Burkina Faso to be more mature in its faith, in its pilgrimage towards holiness.