Help for the Formation of 39 Carmelite Friars in Central Africa
Last year, the Carmelite Fathers in the Central African Republic had good reason to celebrate. Young Brother Christo was taking his perpetual vows. His parents accompanied him to the altar, as in a traditional African wedding they would have given their son to his bride. In this case, they were giving him to God and the Church. The next day, in the Cathedral of Bouar, he was ordained a deacon, while his Carmelite confrere Brother Odilon was ordained to the priesthood. There was great joy and rejoicing among their Carmelite brothers and all the faithful.
Last year, thanks to the generosity of our benefactors, we were able to give $28,600 to support the formation of 39 young Carmelites in the Central African Republic and in Cameroon. Of these young men, 27 were from the war-torn Central African Republic, while the other 12 were from Cameroon. The Carmelites in both these neighboring countries work closely together in the training of their young religious, with the theology students from the Central African Republic going to study in Yaoundé, the capital of Cameroon, while the young men from Cameroon travel to Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic, to study philosophy. In these and other ways, both sides work closely together.
Shortly after Christmas, 11 of these young Carmelite students, who are training in Bangui, went on an excursion with Father Federico Trinchero, their teacher, to a remote village in the south. When they arrived, they discovered that no priest had visited the village for a long time and that the people had not even been able to celebrate the Christmas Midnight Mass, although they had lovingly decorated their church and gathered to pray there.
On the spur of the moment, Father Federico decided to celebrate a belated Christmas Mass for them, together with his young confreres and students. The news spread like wildfire through the village and the surrounding area, and by the next day everyone had arrived. Father Federico then celebrated the Christmas Mass for them, while the young Carmelites sang the Christmas liturgy. Everyone was overjoyed and deeply moved by the occasion.
Father Federico recalls, “During the Mass, I thought of this country, evangelized in past years by fearless missionaries, but still lacking priests today. And I looked at my young students and thought, if the first Apostles – just 12 of them – whom we strive to emulate today, were able to evangelize Galilee, Judaea, Samaria, Asia, Greece and Italy, then surely we can do the same, at least in our suburb of Bangui and in the nearby provinces of Ombella M’Poko, Nana-Mamberé, Ouham-Pendé, and perhaps even in Lobaye and Sangha-Mbaéré…”
On their return from their excursion, young Brother Grâce-à-Dieu came up to Father Federico to thank him for the experience, saying, “The Catholics in Bambio, who were so happy about their belated Christmas Mass, have made me more than ever determined to become a priest.”
Thanks to your help, he and 38 other young Carmelite hopefuls can continue following their vocation. Their heartfelt thanks and prayers for you and for everyone who has helped!
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