AFRICA/SIERRA LEONE- A church in Makeni dedicated to the new Saint, Guido Maria Conforti
Makeni (Agenzia Fides) - A delegation of faithful from Parma – who have just celebrated with joy and solemnity the canonization of their fellow and Bishop for almost 25 years, Monsignor Guido Maria Conforti – are on their way to Makeni, in Sierra Leone to participate in the feast of the dedication of a church, just completed, entitled to the new Saint of the universal Church. On October 23, World Mission Day, Pope Benedict XVI declared Mgr. Guido M. Conforti a Saint (1865-1931). This new church was solemnly dedicated to San Guido M. Conforti - formerly Bishop of Ravenna and Parma, as well as Founder of the Xaverian Missionaries - and will pastorally serve a large parish in the dynamic city of Makeni in the Northern Province.
The Xaverian Missionaries have been working in those lands in West Africa since July 8, 1950. About 50 years ago, in 1962, another Parmesan, Mgr. Augustus F. Azzolini – also a Xaverian, member of the missionary society founded by Mgr. Guido M. Conforti - became the first Bishop of the diocese of Makeni. It was Pope John XXIII who chose him to give life to this new African Church, in an area never touched before by the Christian proclamation and predominantly inhabited by Temne and Limba ethnic groups.
A few days after the canonization of Saint Guido M. Conforti, the people of Sierra Leone wishes thereby to express their gratitude to the Founder of the Xaverian Missionaries and their capacity for the gift of faith in those lands with a mission that is due precisely to the city of Parma and whose initial components, famous as the "Four Pioneers", all come from the territories surrounding this land of Emilia: A.F. Azzolini from Roccabianca (Parma, diocese of Parma); C: Oliviani from Cicognara of Viadana (Mantova, diocese of Cremona); S.P. Calza from Croce S. Spirito (Piacenza, Diocese of Fidenza); A. Stephen da Fontanalucia from Frassinoro (Modena, diocese of Reggio Emilia). These four pioneers of the mission in Sierra Leone belong to the first and second hundred missionaries who joined Conforti’s daring project, the man who was called to the mission by a special encounter with the Crucified Christ and that, being unable to follow him because of health reasons, made sure that many others became missionaries in the Institute he founded.
May this Church of Africa - which has just received the Apostolic Exhortation "Africae Munus" by Pope Benedict XVI – have St. Conforti’s missionary spirit, and so revive their land thanks to the richness of the mission passed on by their legions of missionaries who have often spent their entire life on earth to transmit them the light of the Gospel. (P. Gerard Caglioni sx) (Agenzia Fides 09/12/2011)
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