AFRICA/DR CONGO - After 120 years of evangelization, the village of Yanonge celebrates its first nun

Saturday, 16 July 2022

Yanonge (Agenzia Fides) - "Marthe represents us all, as a Church that seeks the face of the Lord", writes Fr. Vittorio Farronato from the Democratic Republic of Congo referring to the first girl who became a nun in the village of Yanonge after 120 years of evangelization. "Looking at the face of the Lord - continues the Comboni missionary - in his eyes we see, as in a mirror, the people he loves and we turn to the people of the world to look at them with his eyes, and translate his concern". Fr. Farronato gives testimony to the missionary activity carried out this year by recounting the life of the village. "We have concluded this year's cycle of baptisms: between the center and the villages there were about 150, mainly teenagers between 12 and 17 years of age, who completed the three years of catechumenate. I try to invent new forms, sometimes small theatrical scenes, narratives of biblical stories where there is a child/adolescent in whom they can recognize themselves. I bought a small color copier, I painted many African style drawings to photocopy booklets for all the villages. Now we are organizing ourselves to recover many young people left to themselves, we have good collaboration on the part of the local laity. We accompany them in formation. There is a young Congolese missionary, Fr. Biangbali Abaingu Blaise with us, and a new member has arrived in the community, Br. Romero Arias Hernán, from Peru, a doctor with many years of experience between Congo and Sudan". "Climate change is felt here too with irregular rains and exaggerated heat - he adds. A body of the European Union has established a base in Yanonge, to protect the forest, improve traditional agriculture, promote small-scale farming, enhance trees by selling a semi-finished product. We are also carrying out significant initiatives: 7 large fish ponds where there were scrubs and swamps; we have planted a forest of acacias, hundreds of citrus fruits, a thousand forest trees, coffee, cocoa, fruit trees and more". The missionary explains that there is no wage labor in the country, "apart from a few teachers and state employees, the money that circulates is scarce. We have started training and experiences to do beekeeping. The first six houses thrill with bees at work; now we want to put 6 more houses, perhaps reaching 30. The European Union body accompanies us in the technical training; we have created an association recognized by the state. In the future we hope to set up a Yanonge honey pot sales office. I used to say to friends: an organization makes plans with the force of dollars; the Church does works of mercy with the strength of solidarity. At the school of Jesus we know the value of each person, we know the concern of the Father, we try to tell it with our hands, explain it with words, celebrate it in the liturgy". Fr. Ferronato concludes: "life hurts us all and then, between Covid and Ukraine, everything gets complicated, we are anxious about the future. Sometimes we go forward against the wind, but it is a prophetic service, not just optimism, but hope". (AP) (Agenzia Fides, 16/7/2022)