- Written by Dr. Thomas Cherukat
Happy Christmas and a Bright New Year
My dear Friends of Fransalians,
Cordial greetings and good wishes from Rome. It is with great joy that I greet each one of you during this festive season of Christmas and New Year. Christmas is a celebration of life. We thank God for the gift of life. We thank God for sending his only son Jesus into the world. God becoming man, born into a human family, reaching out to the whole of creation with the universal message of love, peace and joy built on truth, justice and freedom. This is the great mystery that we celebrate at Christmas. Christmas is therefore an invitation as well as a challenge to all of us to be partners of God in transforming our world with the values of the Gospel preached and practiced by Jesus Christ.
We are at the threshold of another new year. The year 2013 has been an year of grace for the Congregation of the Missionaries of Saint Francis de Sales all over the world. The congregation has completed 175 years of its existence on 24 October 2013. The humble work that was started in Annecy, France 175 years ago has grown into a large missionary family of around 1400 members spread across 26 countries on five continents. In this jubilee year the congregation has entered into a new missionary venture in Africa by sending a team of priests from India to Zambia. We thank God for giving us so many young and dynamic priests in India who readily opt to work in the African Missions. Zambia is the 9th country in Africa where the Fransalians are engaged in pastoral, educational and developmental activities. The Lumen Christi Institute at Arusha in Tanzania has grown into a large Institution which is a common venture of all the 9 Fransalian Mission Units in Africa.
Our Chad-Cameroon Mission continues to make steady progress. The Mission was blessed with two priestly ordinations in this jubilee year. Fr. Parfait Ayissi and Fr. Christophe Abessougie, both Cameroonians were ordained priests in last July. We rejoice over the steady increase of local vocations to the Congregation in Chad and Cameroon. The Mission has now 3 priests, 5 students in philosophy, 5 novices and 8 postulants and candidates, all from Cameroon and Chad. The bulk of missionary personnel in the Mission however come from India. At present there are 16 priests and 3 students from India working in Chad and Cameroon taking the total number of members in the Mission to thirty-five.
Mission Development Office in Rome
The steady growth of missions in so many countries in the developing world pose great challenges to our congregation. The cost of maintaining so many young missions in Africa and Asia is enormous and has become increasingly difficult for the Congregation. We are heavily dependent on the generosity of friends and benefactors all over the world. The 19th General Chapter of the Congregation held in February 2013 had decided to set up a “Mission Development Office” in Rome and organize “support groups” in as many countries as possible and mobilize funds for the Fransalian Missions all over the world especially in Asia, Africa and South America. The responsibility of organizing the new Mission Office in Rome has fell on me. It is a new idea and a new venture. I have gladly accepted the new task. The Mission Office in Rome is gradually taking shape. At the initial phase, a chain of support groups in Italy and in several other countries in Western Europe and North America is planned. Trusting in God and in the generosity of all people of good will I look forward to the new year with much hope and confidence.
I thank God for the gift of each one of you for what you are and what you do especially for the missions in Africa. I thank you for your keen interest and concern for our missions I count on your continued support for the Chad Cameroon Mission and for the new project of the Mission Office in Rome. I wish you a very Happy Christmas and a bright and prosperous new year 2014. May the joy and peace of this Christmas strengthen us in our commitment to reach out to the poorest of the poor and work together for a better world.
Provincial’s Visitation of Chad-Cameroon Mission
Chad-Cameroon Mission is under the direct jurisdiction of the South West India Province. Fr. Jose Kumblolickal, the newly appointed Provincial made his first official visitation of the Mission from 11th July to 6th August 2013. He visited all centres in the Mission, met all the confreres and animated the Mission Colloquium. After his visitation to Chad-Cameroon, Fr. Jose wrote as follows:
“It was a spiritually enriching experience for me personally. Chad-Cameroon Mission is taking definite shape and it is geared towards stabilization. This year we had two ordinations and after three more years we will have steady number of ordinations every year. We have two missions in Chad namely Bero and Doba. Bero is the first mission of the South West Province in Africa. Doba was taken up later. The religious climate in the Diocese of Doba is in turmoil right now. The bishop was expelled by the Chad Government on the accusation that he spoke against the Government. Bero and Doba are large missions consisting of several out- stations, two schools and a boys’ home.”
“Our Mission in Cameroon is really flourishing. In the Diocese of Ngaoundere we are starting a minor seminary, a school and a clinic in collaboration with congregations of women religious. Two of our priests are engaged in pastoral activities in three parishes including the University parish. Ngaoundere can be one of the permanent centres of the MSFS in Cameroon. The bishop is very welcoming and supportive. In the Archdiocese of Yaoundé we have one of the most promising parishes, that of Ekoundoum. The church construction is nearing completion. Within the territory of this parish, we have a plot of land and we are starting a school there this year. We have also another four acres of land in the vicinity of this parish, where there is scope for another school. In the Diocese of Obala we have La Feuillette,our Formation House at Ngoya and two parishes entrusted to our care at Ekkekam and Ebang. In Ekkekam there are two plots of land where we are planning to have a school and a dispensary”
“Recently we have taken up one of the most remote and challenging missions.The place is called Kokabouma. It is in the Anglophone area of Cameroon and the access to this mission is a serious problem. The people are very cooperative and fully engaged in the construction of a new Church there. Soon we will be taking up the chaplaincy at the University of Buea which is also in the Anglophone area of Cameroon.”
The Chad-Cameroon Mission had two mission colloquiums in this year 2013. The first one took place in the month of March, 2013 during the visitation of Rev. Fr. Abraham Vettuvelil, our Superior General. The second Colloquium took place on 22nd July, 2013. The meeting was presided over by Rev. Fr. Jose Kumblolickal, the Provincial. The participiants shared the life in the mission centres, presented plans and visions for all the units. There were special sessions on Financial Planning, Ongoing Formation of confreres and opening of new centres in the Mission. Discussions were held also on how to streamline the financial administration and make the Mission self- sufficient. After sufficient and mature discussion, the members unanimously passed a resolution in favour of raising the Mission into a Delegation in the immediate future.
Hearty Congratulations to our New Priests from Chad- Cameroon Mission
Christophe Abessouguie, MSFS is the second priest from Chad- Cameroon mission. He was born on 14. 09.1983 at Ombessa, Cameroon. He was admitted to postulancy at Nkolbisson in Yaounde. He did his Pre-Novitiate at Ndagani in Kenya and Novitiate at Kibaha in Tanzania. He made his first profession on 10.07.2008. He holds a Master’s degree in Philosophy from the University of Yaoundé. He did his theological studies at Ecole Théologique Saint-Cyprien at Ngoya, Cameroon. He was ordained priest on 13th July, 2013 at St. Sebastian’s Cathedral, Bafia, Cameroon and celebrated his First Holy Eucharist in his home parish, Notre Dame du Mont Carmel Church, Ombessa, Diocese of Bafia on 14th July 2013.
Fr. Innocent Parfait Ayissi, MSFS is the third priest from our Chad-Cameroon mission. He was born on 20. 04.1978 at Yaounde. In September 2002 He was admitted to postulancy at Nkolbisson in 2002. He did his Pre-Novitiate and Novitiate at Kibaha in Tanzania. He made his first profession on 20th May 2006. He did his philosophical studies at Institut de Philosophie Saint-Joseph Mukasa, Yaoundé and theological studies at Ecole Théologique Saint-Cyprien Ngoya- Cameroon He was ordained priest 20th July, 2013.
Greetings from the Mission Superior
My dear Friends of Fransalians,
It is with a sense of great joy and deep gratitude that I greet you on the occasion of Christmas and New Year. We the missionaries and the people of our Missions in Chad and Cameroon think of you and pray for you during this joyful season of Christmas and New Year. You are very dear to us. You are our good friends who always stand by us and come to our help. You belong to our Fransalian Family. Our work in the missions is really hard. But we feel very much strengthened by the support we receive from our friends and benefactors all over the world. May God bless your generosity and loving solidarity with the poor.
I am very happy to inform you that our work in Chad and Cameroon continues to grow in spite of the many difficulties that we encounter everyday. We thank God for the gift of new ordinations, and the number of students, novices and candidates in our mission. The recent General Chapter of the Congregation has mandated that the Chad-Cameroon Mission be raised to the juridical status of a “Delegation” with greater autonomy for a more effective planning and administration. Thank you for your continued support and concern for our Mission. We pray for your intentions. May the joy and peace of this Christmas be with you always and in the new year.
- Written by Dr. Thomas Cherukat
Dear Friends of the Fransalians,
Cordial greetings from Chad-Cameroon Mission. It is once again Christmas time. This joyful feast of the birthday of Jesus is a privileged moment for me to greet each one of you and to share some news from our missions. The birth of a child is always a happy event. The birth of Jesus is all the more joyful and meaningful for us because he is the Son of God who became man in order to be one with us. He is the Emmanuel : GOD WITH US.
God coming down to the world and reaching out to the whole of humanity is the inspiration behind every missionary activity. God has crossed the frontiers. As missionaries, we too feel called by God to cross the frontiers to make Christ present in every part of the world. The birth of Jesus continues to enlighten and enliven the hearts and minds of millions who are deprived of their human dignity and freedom.
As Friends of Fransalians, you too are journeying with us, going beyond the frontiers. Your constant support for our work in the remote missions of Chad and Cameroon is a clear sign of your missionary commitment to make Christ and his message known to the world. With a grateful heart, I wish each one of you a Very Happy Christmas and a Bright New Year. May the joy and peace of Christmas fill your hearts and homes as you step into the New Year.
Fr. Joshy Nellimalamattam, MSFS
NEWS FROM YAOUNDE, CENTRAL CAMEROON
Yaoundé, the capital city of Cameroon with a population of around 2 million.is also the main centre of Fransalian Missions in Chad-Cameroon. La Feuillette, the Fransalian Formation house is just outside Yaounde city but falls under the Diocese of Obala. Ekoumdoum, Ebang and Ekekam are the three important Fransalian Missions in and around Yaounde.
EBANG: The Holy Family Parish of Ebang is the youngest mission that the Fransalians have opened. The new mission is in the suburb of Yaoundé.. Fr. Manoj Arackal was installed as the Parish Priest of this mission on 8th May 2012. The new mission has a catholic population of over 4000 spread over 4 sub-centres. It is a mission full of challenges. There is hardly any infrastructure. People gather in a tiny chapel. There is no presbytery for the priest to reside in the mission. A church has to be built. A multipurpose hall is an urgent need. Faith formation has to be intensified. Developmental projects are to be initiated.
EKEKAM : Ekekam Mission has always been a difficult mission mainly because of its inaccessibility. Situated in the dense forest and without good roads, people walk long distances. The Mission has initiated a number of developmental projects. Eight wells are dug to provide clean drinking water for the people. A multipurpose hall has been built. The construction of a presbytery is in progress. We need more finance to complete the project.
EKOUMDOUM : Ekoumdoum Mission continues to make great progress. However the construction of the church and presbytery has come to a halt due to shortage of funds. The priests have already moved into the unfinished presbytery. Daily Eucharist is celebrated in the new church which is yet to be completed. The land for the educational projects has been acquired.
LA FEUILLETTE: Our Formation house in Ngoya is a community of 3 priests,2 deacons and 9 candidates. Deacon Parfait Ayissi and Deacon Christophe Abessougi are due to be ordained priests in June 2013. Chad-Cameroon Mission rejoices over the increasing number of local priests and candidates. There are 3 candidates from Chad and Cameroon doing their novitiate in Tanzania.
NEWS FROM NORTH CAMEROON
BEREM : Berem Mission is situated 65 kms away from Ngaoundere in North Cameroon. The Mission has a small community of catholics wit 3 sub-stations. The Mission is managing two primary schools. The people of Berem are poor farmers struggling to make their livelihood. It is a drought-prone area and water is scarce. Fr. Bipin, the Parish Priest has initiated a number of projects aimed at better farming and greater productivity.
MBE-KARNA : Mbe-Karna Mission is situated at 70 kms from Ngaoundere. The Mission has received a new pastor in the person of Fr. Emile Amougou, the first Fransalian priest from Cameroon. People of Mbe-Karna welcomed their new pastor with much joy. Monsignor Joseph Djida, the Bishop of Ngaoundere made his pastoral visit to Mbe-Karna on 18th August 2012 and installed Fr. Emile as Parish Priest. It was a beautiful event which brought together many people from the neighboring villages irrespective of their religious affiliations. The ongoing project of providing drinking water to the far flung villages is a priority for this mission. The construction of a presbytery and a boys’ home at Mbe is another important project envisaged for the immediate future.
BINI-DANG: The pastoral care of more than 5000 catholic students in Ngaoundere is organized by the chaplaincy at Bini-Dang. At present 3 Fransalian priests are serving the chaplaincy. Apart from the daily Mass and other spiritual exercises in the parish church, the students are given opportunities to seek guidance and counseling. A number of associations and movements are started in the parish to help the students to deepen their faith and to become committed Christians and responsible citizens.
NEWS FROM SOUTH WEST CAMEROON
KOKOBUMA: Kokobuma is the first Fransalian mission in the English-speaking region in the South-West of Cameroon. It is a most challenging and difficult mission in a remote area. Fr. Mathew Kavithazha, a veteran missionary is assigned to this mission. Several bishops in the Anglophone region of Cameroon have expressed their wish to have the Fransalians to work in their dioceses.
NEWS FROM CHAD
Bishop of Doba Expelled: A difficult time for the Church in Chad
Our Mission in Chad is going through difficult times. The Government of Chad has expelled Monsignor Michel Russo, the Bishop of Doba from the country. Bishop Russo, an Italian has been a missionary in Chad for the past 33 years. He has been quite outspoken against the Government of Chad and the American oil company Esso which has a huge project of oil exploration and production in and around Doba.
Bishop Russo has been championing the cause of the poor, demanding a just share of the oil revenues for them. Oil is extracted from the land that was acquired from the poor farmers. The local population continues to live in abject poverty even as millions of barrels of oil are extracted from their lands and sent overseas. Bishop Russo has been an eloquent critic of the policies of the Chadian Government and of the Esso Company for their apparent insensitivity to the basic needs of the local population in Doba whose land has been taken away to make huge profits for the multinational company. The critics say that the Government is using up the oil revenue chiefly to import arms and weapons to quell the rebellion in many parts of the country instead of investing on development.
The Fransalian in Chad owe much to Monsignor Russo. It was at his invitation, encouragement and support that the Fransalians started their mission in Bero and Doba. We wish and pray that Bishop Russo will soon be allowed to return to Chad as diplomatic efforts are underway. It is however gratifying that our two missions in Bero and Doba continue to make a great positive impact on the social and educational life of the people.
Greetings from Pater Thomas Cherukat in Rome
My dear Friends of Fransalians,
It is with great joy and a sense of gratitude that I greet each one of you on the occasion of Christmas and New Year. The joyful feast of Christmas is a reminder to all of us that God is on the side of the poor. Jesus was born poor. He grew up in a poor family. He went about preaching the good news, doing good to all and especially to the poorest of the poor. He healed the sick. He mingled with sinners and outcasts. He questioned the powerful and defended the weak and the abandoned. He gave his life as a ransom for many by dying on the cross to rise again to life. Christmas is therefore a great challenge for all of us. It is a challenge to live like Jesus, to think like Jesus and to act like Jesus. We need to reach out to the poor, to give life to them and to help them to liberate themselves from all forms of injustice and inhumanity.
The new year 2013 is an year of grace for the entire Church as well as for the Fransalian Family. Pope Benedict XVI has declared the year as an year of faith. The recently held Synod of Bishops in Rome has called for a new evangelization of all peoples and cultures. The year 2013 marks multiple jubilees and important events for the Fransalian Family. The Congregation celebrates 175th anniversary of its foundation on 24th October 2013. It is also the 150th anniversary of the death of its Founder Fr. Peter Mermier (+ 30.09.1862). The English Province of the Fransalians has just celebrated 150 years of its existence. The East Africa Province is celebrating its silver jubilee. As a crowning point of all these historical landmarks, the 19th General Chapter of the Congregation is scheduled to be held from 01-15 February 2013 at Hyderabad in India. As we rejoice and thank the Lord for the great things He has done for our Congregation, we continue to trust in the providential care of the Lord. We ask the Lord to bless our Congregation and send more labourers into His vineyard.
My dear Friends, I thank each one of you for all what you are and all what you do to strengthen our hands to help the poor and needy in the remote missions of Africa. I wish each one of you a very happy Christmas. May the joy and peace of this Christmas be in your hearts and in your families.
Fr. Thomas Cherukat, MSFS
- Written by Dr. Thomas Cherukat
Greetings From India
Dear Friends of Fransalians,
Let me first of all wish each one of you a very Happy Christmas and a grace-filled and prosperous New Year. God is our Father. We are His children. Jesus, the Son of God is born to us. All of us, the whole of humanity and the entire creation belong to the Family of God. Christmas which means “God with us” is a Family Feast, a celebration of love and care for each other. As we share our joy with our own family members and friends, it is also an occasion to think of our less fortunate brothers and sisters who need our help and support especially those who suffer from abject poverty and misery. By sharing our resources with the needy we are acknowledging and celebrating the fact that all of us belong to God’s own Family.
News From Chad-Cameroon
The newly elevated Delegation of Chad-Cameroon continues to make rapid progress especially in the field of education and social development. The school at Ngaoundere in Cameroon and the three schools at Bero and Doba are making good progress. At Djalingo in Ngaoundere a new building has been added to the existing school. The two Boys’ Homes at Bero and Doba are catering to 58 children. The newly built school at Doba is being developed into a large Educational Complex which includes a primary school with nursery and a secondary school which welcomes both boys and girls and a Boys’ Home for children from the far away villages. In the current academic year there are 25 children in the nursery, 45 children in the 7th class and 15 children in the Boys’ Home. A large number of girls from the economically backward families are given special attention and support through the sponsorship program. The number of children sponsored under the project of Schuelerpatenschaften have now crossed 500 chiefly from Africa and India. We are grateful to our sponsors for their love and generosity towards the economically disadvantaged children in all our missions. The drinking water projects in Chad continue with the support that we receive from our well-wishers. We have been able to dig a borewell at Doba recently.
Unfortunately the political strife in the Anglophone region of Cameroon in recent months is causing much anxiety and fear among people. The missionaries too are caught in the crossfire. Increasing violence against the mission centres and kidnapping of several missionaries by the rebel forces are reported. Trusting in the security of God’s plans for us and praying for peace in the region, our missionaries are going ahead with the works entrusted to them with courage and hope. I request your kind prayers for our missionaries and the suffering people in Chad and Cameroon.
Natural Calamities In South India
In the past few months, the three South Indian States of Kerala, Karnataka and Tamilnadu have witnessed unprecedented destruction of life and properties due to floods, landslides and cyclones in a massive scale. The three states together have a population of over 180 million.
Kerala struck by massive floods and landslides
In the month of August 2018, tragedy struck the tiny state of Kerala in the form of an unprecedented flooding and landslides. The ferocity of the South-West monsoon was such that between 1st August and 19th August Kerala received heavy and incessant rainfall which was 164% more than the average. As a result the entire state came to a halt for almost the whole of August. Kerala had experienced a natural calamity of such magnitude only in 1924 almost a century ago. The fury of the floods continued unabated for almost two weeks and a trail of death, displacement and destruction followed. More than 450 people lost their lives. Over 3 million people were displaced who had to be sheltered in thousands of relief camps. Almost twenty thousand houses got fully damaged and over hundred thousand were partially damaged. Over ten thousand kilometres of major roads were washed away and about sixteen thousand hectares of land was lost. Over 83000 kilometres of roads and more than 200 bridges had suffered extensive damage. Several districts across the State were isolated due to the frequent landslides resulting in widespread destruction of lives and property besides an acute scarcity of clean drinking water.
Disaster in the Kodagu district of Karnataka
Kodagu, popularly known as Coorg is a hilly district of Karnataka bordering Kerala on the north. It is a region of coffee and pepper plantations. The district suffered heavy loss of life and property in the aftermath of the incessant rainfall that occurred in the region especially in mid-August. Landslides swept through the region destroying several villages and thereby causing much grief and destruction to hundreds of families in the region. More than 20 lives were lost. More than 40 relief centres were set up and over six thousand people were given emergency shelters.
A Severe Cyclone hits Tamil Nadu
The fury of nature struck again in Tamilnadu in the form of a severe cyclone in the early hours of 16th November 2018. More than 45 lives were lost besides the massive destruction of houses and property across several coastal districts of the state. Around 250,000 people have been evacuated. Thousands of houses were damaged. The real extent of the damage is yet to be assessed. Relief works are in full swing.
An Appeal For Urgent Help
A human tragedy of such a magnitude has occurred in the three neighbouring States of Kerala, Karnataka and Tamilnadu which fall within the geographical territories of the South-West India Province and the South East India Province of the Missionaries of Saint Francis de Sales. The Fransalian communities in Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu have promptly set up several relief centres for the affected people. As an immediate response to the tragedy that struck Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, Vikasjyothi, the Mission Development Office in Mysore together with the Amisales in Rome has been able to mobilise a modest sum of Rs. 10.00.000.00 (Euro 12.000.00) and forward it to the Relief Funds of the two Provinces.
Vikasjyothi in Mysore continues to be actively engaged in mobilising resources for the relief works. I am very grateful to the friends and benefactors who contribute to this cause. It will take a long time for the affected regions to rebuild itself. Rehabilitation is the real task ahead. The entire Congregation has been responding generously to the needy people. We are now trying to help the most needy to rebuild their lost homes. It is planned to help at least 100 families immediately with the available funds to re-build their homes. Much more can be done as and when more funds are available. I request our friends and well-wishers to contribute generously to this noble cause. May the joy and peace of Christmas help all of us to reach out to the poor and needy.
P. Dr. Thomas Cherukat, MSFS
Greetings From Chad-Cameroon
My dear Friends and Well–Wishers of Fransalians,
Greetings of love and Joy from Chad-Cameroon. I am happy to inform you that Chad Cameroon Mission has been raised to the status of a Delegation in our Congregation and that I was installed as the first Delegation Superior on 29 September 2018. Everyone knows that it is a very difficult mission. But our missionary journey in this part of Africa gives us immense joy and hope as we experience daily the marvels that the Lord works in this mission. The initial reluctance, anxieties, struggles, trials and difficulties has not weakened the enthusiasm of so many of our young and energetic missionaries who have come to this mission from the far off India. The mission has been growing at a very rapid pace during the last 19 years. The good Lord has been making it clear to us that we are engaged in His work and that He wants us to continue His work in this part of the world. New batches of young missionaries from India are coming to work in this mission year after year. Prospects of local vocations are also very bright. We have already 4 priests from Cameroon and more than 50 seminarians are in different stages of formation. It is with a deep sense of humility and gratitude that I have assumed the responsibility of leading the new Delegation. I believe that the greatest strength of our new Delegation is the young and dynamic confreres who dare to be challenged and to give their best..
We express our deep sentiments of gratitude to all those confreres, friends and benefactors who have been a constant source of support and encouragement for this mission in the past years. May the good Lord reward their love and generosity. We look forward to your continued prayers and support for the further growth of this Delegation. I take this opportunity to wish each one of you a very Happy Christmas and a Bright New Year. May God bless all of you.
Fr. Manoj Xavier Arackal.
Delegation Superior Chad-Cameroon