Last update : 2001-07-26

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July 24th

A Day about Africa. 25 years of Inter-African Dominicans ( IAOP)

The heat has begun. The first hours of hot air, heavy with humidity, have enveloped us. The Eucharist was presided over by an African and Friar Albert Nolan, the vicar for South Africa, gave the homily. We began by singing "Thuma Mina" and finished with "Amen Siakudumisa", both songs of beautiful African rhythms. Albert, commenting on the "here are your mother and your brothers" text of the Gospel, showed us the sanctity of the family in Africa. It always causes a difficult choice between two good options: to continue wholly united to one's natural family or to incorporate oneself totally in the Dominican family. It is a challenging option. At any rate it is necessary to take the best of each family whenever it is not impossible. The fundamental thing is to live in a family.

The first part of the morning was dedicated to Africa. In the last few chapters it has been a tradition to listen to the brethren from a region or zone of special interest to the Order. In the last chapter, at Bologna, there was a report on Asia. There is no commission treating the theme of Africa. This time was dedicated without any documents to study or vote on, for the simple reason that all the participants have first hand information about the Order on that continent. This year marks the celebration of the twenty-fifth anniversary of IAOP's founding. It is a structure created by the sub-Saharan Dominicans with the support of Master De Couesnongle for interchange, collaboration in mission, and economic aid. It groups together the eight entities of the Order on this continent. There has been collaboration in initial and permanent formation, in centers of studies, in publications, and in constructing a web site. One example of great collaboration among the Dominican family is the founding of FEDOSA (the Federation of the Dominicans of South Africa), which groups together the brethren, sisters, nuns and laity. Today begins the celebration surrounding the launching of the book, The History of The Dominicans in Africa. It is written in French and costs $20. No provincial should leave chapter without buying this book.

Representatives of those diverse African entities at the chapter presented their realities, with Friar Roger Houngbédji, assistant to the Master, as presider. It was a very interesting exposition, even though what was presented was not all "gaudium et spes"/ "joy and hope". Above all there were no joys, because it seems that the world has forgotten that continent. But they do maintain hope. The Dominicans have been in Africa since the sixteenth century. Two screens showed the geographic area being discussed, the entities referred to, the great titles of their projects, etc.

Some projects emerged: the creation of a center for theological studies in the Africa which speaks French and Portuguese - 50% of those friars are in initial formation -;creating a dialogue with Islam; paying attention to the large regions isolated by such calamities as AIDs, hunger, almost eternal wars; the foundation of a new community in Madagascar and another in Cameroon.

The vicar of the Congo gave a reflection citing Timothy: We Dominicans are also present in the countries which foment the wars in his country - one can say the same about Angola - with the sales of arms and other political interests. Can't we do something?

Throughout the morning there appeared three texts of as many commissions which will be discussed tomorrow: a document on the Nuns, one on Community Life, a section on Contemplation, and a section of the Fraternal Life in Community. A cursory reading foretells that there may be an interesting dialogue.

Vespers were in English. They ended with "Hail, Blessed Lady" and a beautiful prayer to St. Dominic by the great liturgical director, Friar Marchionda.

News Briefs

In Africa there are seven Dominican monasteries: 3 in Cameroon; 1 in Angola - with plans to found another, since there are more than forty nuns; 1 in South Africa; 1 in Kenya and another in Burundi.

We have overcome the problem which had seriously affected the work of the secretarial staff. A computer virus, without being especially damaging, caused the problems. It is curious that by what it seemed to know about those of us who are here and by that which was published, it is possible that it was created by someone very close by.

The Master has a calendar very full of appointments. There are matters pending about which he wishes to be informed by listening to the provincials. And the General Council still needs to be completed. Some fear that they will be chosen, while perhaps others fear that they will not be chosen. The world is badly distributed….

The heat promised by the weather forecaster became a reality in the early hours of the morning. But there is no excuse for not working; we have a very good air conditioning system - sometimes it is too good.

Among other communications received, one charitable soul corrected us by saying that one should not say "papelorum progressio", but rather "populorum progressio". Thank you!?

At the beginning of these sessions, the Master announced the latest news about the brethren who have had to leave the chapter because of sickness: Friar Charles Fenech; Friar Virgilio Ambrosini, Friar Michel Van Aerde. All are recuperating normally. puce

(Translated from Spanish)


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