Pope John Paul II’s missionary prayer intention for September 2004: “That in Africa authentic brotherly cooperation may develop among all those who work for the growth and development of ecclesial Communities” Comment by Sr. Giuseppina Tresoldi SMC, Missionary in Uganda

Monday, 30 August 2004

Vatican City (Fides Service) - This month’s prayer intention calls our attention and reflection to Africa so that our prayer may be more intense and sincere.
Africa is a continent of light and hope despite the shadows on the horizon and the heavy burden of wars, AIDS, unchecked exploitation, political and economic insecurity. In this context the people in Africa live with a strong sense of religion, which permeates and affects every aspect of life and lives daily life in a spirit of solidarity a strong traditional value.
In Africa the Church is “family-of-God” and this is the most suitable image to convey the spirit of faith in God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit, a Community therefore and supreme relation in Unity. Just as the growth of the human family is a gift and a task for every person, so too all the baptised are called to collaborate to promote the growth of God’s family, the Holy Church, and the contribution of every individual is necessary and appreciated. Growth is promoted through witness and practice of the faith confirmed with works of charity, prayer and union and growth of all around the Table of the Eucharist and through the celebration of the other Sacraments, channels of grace and salvation for all.
In ecclesial communities in Africa there is a rich and diversified participation in this growth, under the guidance of the Bishops and priests in the local Churches. We think of Christian families, small domestic churches, where initiation to the Christian life begins inserted on the most sacred cultural values such as hospitality and solidarity-fraternity, regardless of ethnic or tribal differences. We think of the Basic Ecclesial Communities, in city districts and in villages, led by ordinary laypersons and praiseworthy catechists who have devoted their lives to this ministry.
We contemplate the great variety of African men and women in different communities and ministries consecrated to God and to evangelisation, in keeping with the grace of the charisma of origin. We look above all to lay persons committed to transforming the environment in which they live offering a witness of a life culturally and spiritually rich.
We see the great crowds of young people, present and future of an African Church ever more authentic and active, thirsting for the Word, which gives sense and direction to their life exposed to so many challenges and dangers.
We see the rising and spread of various ecclesial movements and associations whose aim is the growth of Church life through apostolic activity and spiritual dynamism, which stems from the Word of God, listened to and welcomed as Word of Life.
We see the Priests, called to express in their life and ministry the redeeming mystery of Christ and to guide and coordinate the faithful in the variety of their gifts and in common efforts to promote the growth of the Church from its most natural nucleus - the Parish - as a community of communion.
Our thoughts go also to those working in Catholic schools at all levels to build a Christian culture through educaiton; to those who work in the sector of communications, those who operate in the field of justice and peace.
This month’s prayer intention takes us by the hand and helps us enter the great Family-of-God, the Church in Africa, to rejoice for its development and vitality and to pray that the efforts and commitment of those working for its growth may proceed in harmony and under the banner of brotherhood.
May Mary Mother of the Church-Family-of-God, bless the members of all Ecclesial Communities in Africa and guide them along the path of peace and collaboration. (Sr. Giuseppina Tresoldi SMC) (Agenzia Fides 30/8/2004, Righe 52 - Parole 658)