AMERICA/SURINAME - Redemptorist fathers in Suriname: 150 years of mission special concern for slaves

Monday, 1 August 2016 missionary animation   missionary institutes   slavery  

Paramaribo (Agenzia Fides) – Today, 1 August 2016, the feast day of Saint Alphonsus Maria de Liguori, marks a mission anniversary: 150 years of the service of the Redemptorist Fathers (the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer) in Suriname. The anniversary will be solemnly celebrated in Paramaribo, where the Fathers have an historic presence marked by missionary work and promotion of respect for human dignity and human rights.

On 31 August 1865, Blessed Pope Pius IX promulgated a decree regarding the consignment of the Apostolic Vicariate of Dutch Guyana (later to be renamed Suriname) to the care of the Dutch Province of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer. The acceptance of this mission marked a new chapter in the ad gentes mission. In March 1866, Mons. Jan Swinkels, C.Ss.R., and three Redemptorist missionaries arrived in Paramaribo. For 135 years, the local Church was entrusted to the Dutch Province . Sad to say in the 1880s and 1890s the Province was unable to send missionaries, and only three local men in Suriname entered the Order. Aware of the difficulties encountered by the Redemptorist work in Suriname, the Governor General asked the Redemptorists in Brazil (URB) to take over the Mission.

The most famous Redemptorist missionary, in the history of Suriname, is undoubtedly Dutch born Blessed Peter Donders, C.Ss.R. As soon as he arrived in Suriname in 1842, Fr. Peter Donders started his mission visiting plantations, preaching the Good News and celebrating the Sacraments, and showing special concern and care for slaves. Paramaribo was a centre for the slave trade and slavery in Suriname until 1863 when it was abolished. In his letters Donders denounced with indignation the harsh treatment of African natives forced to work in the plantations. (CE) (Agenzia Fides, 01/08/2016)