AFRICA/NIGER - Via Crucis in Niger always with the hope of the resurrection: the hope of the missionary

Tuesday, 4 April 2023


Dosso (Agenzia Fides) - In view of the 14 traditional Stations of the Cross at Easter, Father Rafael Casamayor shared the "Stations of the Cross" which, every Friday, symbolically celebrates the community of Dosso where he works. The priest, from the Society of African Missions, shared his testimony after the celebration of Palm Sunday, April 2, which brings us fully into Holy Week. "What we are experiencing in Niger in our Christian community of Dosso is a way of the cross projected towards the hope of the resurrection, the hope of the missionary", writes Father Rafael.
The obstacles that hinder the work of the priests present prove the importance of the formation of the laity. The missionary cited as an example the kidnapping suffered for two years by Father Pier Luigi Maccalli or the wounding of Father Nicaise. The awareness that Nigerien society, which is 98% Muslim, is becoming radicalized after the burning of churches in 2015, and the jihadist propaganda that followed and which increasingly shows an attitude of a certain hostility and indifference, incomprehensible there a few years, are unfortunately consolidated elements.
"Across the Sahel, jihadist and terrorist violence has emerged and with it a new social climate. In Niger, more than 350,000 displaced people, mainly Christians, and many other migrants from neighboring countries have had to leave their their lands, their homes and their villages to take refuge in protected places. Christian communities and organizations are making considerable efforts to come to their aid".
"My confrere Father Pier Luigi, with whom I worked on different projects and who was kidnapped in the desert for two years, told me that during those terrible months he had discovered an unknown aspect of God, his tenderness in the midst of pain and loneliness. And it is true that, in these moments of insecurity and uncertainty, a word of comfort, a gesture of solidarity are fresh water for the spirit and the soul - underlines Father Rafael. Most members of the Dosso community are emigrants, children of a wandering Jew. An average Nigerian has seven children. They meet all over the city and I focused on the blind and the street children, some remain hidden, others come out at night", explains the missionary in reference to the projects that he himself carries out in the mission.
"The communities of Makalondi, Bomoanga, Kankani ... are the most precarious, but also the most lively, those which are the best organized and which arouse our total admiration and solidarity".
"Finally, the fear disappeared from my heart. The fear of going out, of being seen, of letting people know I'm a Christian, of carrying the cross, has all vanished and I feel grateful for the faith that God has given me. Without realizing it, I have learned to walk this path that I discovered over the years and from the people I have met, despite reluctance and doubts, and I can even understand its fullness. As the days went by, living among people of ancient cultures, I discovered a new land, new people and that is where I pitched my tent, which is now my new homeland". (RC) (Agenzia Fides, 4/4/2023)