AFRICA/ANGOLA - The 'small domestic church' in Bengo: "Lent began with the washing of feet"

Saturday, 9 March 2024


Terreiro (Agenzia Fides) - "Despite all the rain, there is no shortage of people attending church services. And with the invitation to the path of prayer and meditation on the Word of God, the creation of a 'small domestic church' is also encouraged," said Father Martino Bonazzetti, a missionary in Angola who speaks of the beginning of Lent in the community of Desvio da Barra do Dande, Bengo.

"A period of rain has begun – continues the priest of the Society of African Missions. "The night before Ash Wednesday it rained, and a lot, so it was not easy to reach the village of Terreiro, a municipality in the province Cuanza Norte, to celebrate the first day of Lent. There was no shortage of mud and the four-wheel drive came in handy. When I reached the church, the church door was locked. I called the catechist and he informed me that people probably can't come because of the rain. In fact, houses are scattered here. An elderly couple who showed me the river in the distance told me that it takes almost an hour to reach the church".

"It was the beginning of Lent", explains the missionary. "As I was making my way home, I met a group of Christians on the street who saw the car passing by and, certain that the priest had arrived, walked through the mud to the church. They fought their way back through the mud, but they were heartily happy about this wonderful surprise. As I watched the people arrive at the church, I was reminded of a phrase by Don Tonino Bello, who said that Lent begins with the head (the ashes) and ends with the feet (the ablution). Here we took a different approach: when people arrived, they washed their feet to remove the mud with water that they brought with them in a bottle or got from neighbors. Lent began with the washing of the feet".

"This Lent, together with the Family Pastoral Commission, we have considered how we can help people to pray in the family," concludes Father Martino. "Considering the distances and the possibilities of meeting in "smaller" churches (distance and safety), we have proposed two paths: one of prayer, placing a statue of the Holy Family in homes, and one of meditation about the word. "The aim is for families to become more and more what we call 'small domestic church'." (AP) (Agenzia Fides, 9/3/2024)