Reported by our sister Helene Kavula
Lavigerie Family recollection – Ouagadougou Section – Sunday, November 05, 2023
Apostolic zeal and dedication
It was around this theme that the “Lavigerie Family” group met in Ouagadougou on Sunday November 05, 2023, for its first recollection since its foundation 15 months ago (August 2022). Led by Father Joseph Maoka, Missionary of Africa. The day began by inviting the members of the Lavigerie family present that day to be attentive to the Lord, who meets us in our daily state of mind, in silence. The Lord visits us in unexpected situations (1R19, 8-13).
Apostolic zeal and dedication are rooted in various points developed in the course of the talk. Firstly, the Holy Trinity, through which we become aware that God is communion and has a plan to save mankind. That’s why he sent his Son Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh who reveals the Father’s face to us. Jesus Christ chose twelve apostles to be with him and to be sent on mission to preach the Good News and bring relief to mankind. The apostles formed the Church, which by nature is missionary.
Jesus prepared his apostles to continue his work. In the Church there is a diversity of congregations, institutes and societies, but this diversity is a richness. We see unity in diversity. To proclaim Christ, we must be strongly attached to him. To imitate those apostles who are our model, we are called to live in the spirit of simplicity, humility, service and sacrifice. We have emphasized our spirit of sacrifice in the simple acts and gestures of our daily lives.
During the talk, a number of biblical references were given to nourish our personal reflection/prayer, during which the priest was available to give the sacrament of reconciliation to those who wished to receive it. At around midday we had a Eucharist prepared and led by members of the Family. Isn’t this a practical exercise in service and sacrifice?
The Lavigerie family had taken care to invite the missionary sisters of Notre Dame d’Afrique present in Ouaga. A number of sisters from the Cathedral and St Julien communities took part in the lively Eucharist.
Before the Eucharist, the sisters who prepared it took care to have a rehearsal of the Mass hymns, so that everyone could feel at ease during the Mass. For some songs, it was a rehearsal because everyone already knew them. But there was one particular song, unique to the congregation (Notre Dame d’Afrique, mère de Jésus, Dieu t’a choisie et bénie…) that only a few people knew. What a joy it was for the group to learn it in record time, and to sing it at the top of their voices during the Eucharist.
“What a beautiful song” exclaimed several members of the group, who were coming into contact with it for the first time.
Leaving the Eucharistic table, we were invited to share a meal with the community. This was a wonderful opportunity for everyone to get to know each other and to make friends, to exchange ideas spontaneously, simply and without protocol, first between family members and then between family members and sisters from both communities. If we are called to share the charism of the Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Africa, isn’t this a good opportunity to get to know them better?
Relieve, remove, eliminate what oppresses man….
This is one of the missions of the twelve whom Jesus chose to be with him and to be sent. Trying to imitate these apostles, who are a model of apostolic zeal and dedication, a delegation went on behalf of the whole group to visit and encourage a member of the Lavigerie Family who is looking after her elderly, sick and tired mother. Visiting someone – a gesture that seems simple and natural – was greeted with great enthusiasm, faith and gratitude by the host family. After a time of sharing and prayer, we took our leave of the family, remaining united in prayer. Through this visit to the sick person, we felt in deep communion with Cardinal Lavigerie, who advocated this closeness to the oppressed. So, ended our day of recollection, which could be summed up as a day of prayer and action.
The Lavigerie family will always be there for its members in good times and bad.