AFRICA/LIBERIA - A missionary: "New Catholic schools for the good of all, giving the Gospel of Jesus"

Saturday, 11 September 2021 missionary institutes   missionaries   school   education  

Foya (Agenzia Fides) - "We have decided to build a Catholic school. The head of the village assured us of collaboration and now Christians and Muslims are building the new building together". Thus reports in an interview to Agenzia Fides Father Lorenzo Snider, priest of the Society of African Missions (SMA) speaking of the new project that the religious of the missionary institute founded by Mgr. De Brésillac are carrying out in Kortuma, the capital of the district of Vahun, three hours from the city of Foya.
The initiative, financed thanks to donations from the Lombard parish of Villa di Chiavenna, will allow about a hundred children to leave the shack where they were studying. "It is an experience of interreligious communion - underlines Fr. Lorenzo - who gathers Catholics and Muslims, because the school belongs to everyone".
In addition to a high school in Foya, a school will also be built in the village of Ngesu Pio Kongor thanks to funds from "SMA Solidale".
"Here in the district there were 500 children without access to education - says Father Snider - to bring the concrete we had to repair the road and build wooden bridges. They hadn't seen a car for ten years".
The great trust given to Catholic school allows these areas to be removed from a future of marginalization. In fact, in northwestern Liberia the SMA missionaries are carrying out a sort of "global project": liturgical formation with catechists. It is a simple but extraordinary experience because they take time away from work in the fields and from families to participate in the meetings".
In addition, thanks to the collaboration with an association, support is also offered to dozens of widows, orphans and people with disabilities. A structure also houses the pastoral activity for the 300 young people of the Catholic Children Organization who, in turn, are missionaries among their peers. "In recent months - reports Fr. Lorenzo - we went to meet other young people to invite them to join the movement. It was exciting to see them, enthusiastic and happy, talking and offering them a Christian experience". In addition to this, in recent years, through the Fraternité Laïque Missionnaire (Flm), the fathers of the SMA have strengthened the "Foya Health Center", a medical center where doctors, nurses and pedagogical assistants carry out a year of volunteer work. The presence of SMA missionaries in Liberia since 2013 has also been fundamental for the reconstruction and return of Christians to Foya. The two civil wars between 1990 and 2004 forced the population to flee from atrocities, looting and destruction. "Here we live a very strong ecumenical experience - observes the missionary - because there are 25 different Christian religious confessions". The territory was evangelized in the mid-nineteenth century by the Pentecostals, then by the Lutherans, by the Episcopalians and finally by the Catholics. Father Snider arrived there two years ago, after having been to Ivory Coast and then to Padua, where he worked with asylum seekers. Today, despite the tragedies of Ebola and Covid-19, he appreciates the vitality and humor of the Liberians and their ability to react to any tragedy. "There are positive elements to be valued, especially young people. The Church must walk with them", notes Father Snider. Christian life - he concludes - is first of all to have a profound relationship with Jesus Christ: for those who accept the Gospel, the responsibility is to work together for the good of all". (ES) (Agenzia Fides, 11/9/2021)