General News from the Province
It is always a great honor and an intense joy to welcome brothers coming from other African entities. This time it was the Province of St Francis in Africa and Madagascar to host the annual meeting of the JPIC Provincial Animators (Kenya, Sept 14-18) of the OFM African Conference.
On Sunday, September 14, Br. Joe Ehrhardt, vice-president of the JPIC Conference, welcomed the attendants. The work began the following day with the reports of the Entities present (Holy Land, Mozambique, St. Francis’ Province and JPIC FA) and the fraternal sharing of the achievements and challenges of each entity.
In the afternoon the friars visited the one-year-old office of JPIC Franciscans Africa in Lang’ata where they were received by Br. Gianfrancesco and Sr. Kevin. After a presentation of the activities and dreams of the office and its growing importance for the Franciscan Family in Africa the friars went to visit sisters giraffes at the nearby “giraffe center”. Evening Prayer and supper were “celebrated” in our theology House in Lang’ata.
The morning of September 16 was dedicated to the presentation of the upcoming publications of the JPIC office of the General Curia, namely: the book that contains a reflection on Minority (Chap. IV of the GGCC) and the handbook for the JPIC Animators. Both publications will serve to advance the reflection on our charism and our commitment to the work of JPIC.
In the afternoon of the same day the friars were delighted by the accurate and updated presentation on the “new challenges of HIV/AIDS to the Church and the African Continent” made by Dr. Margaret Ogola, head of the Health department of the Kenyan Episcopal Conference.
Fr. David Kamau - ofmCap who followed soon after her, gave an overview of the historical reasons behind the post-election violence Kenya experienced early this year. Both presentations were followed by a fraternal dialogue with the experts.
On Sept. 17, Feast of the Stigmata of St. Francis, br. Joe during the Mass offered a reflection on the “new stigmata” affecting so many people in our African societies and the effect of neo-liberalism to their growth.
The morning session of the day focused on the “contribution of Franciscans to save mother earth”. A Franciscan sister, Mary Frances Wanagari, LSSJ shared her experience as an activist woman working for human rights and environment in Kenya on behalf of the Association of Sisters for Justice and Peace.
The rest of the day was spent visiting a poverty-stricken area of Nairobi, Kasarani and the work the Little Sisters of St. Francis are doing for the youth and most vulnerable people of our society.
The board of Youth Alive, Peter, John and Lillian, together with Sr. Venantius, received us in their headquarter and told us of their effort in trying to change youth behaviour and passing on a challenging pro-life message meant to rescue youth from drugs, violence and promiscuity. A very friendly Franciscan sharing closed the day around a glass of water and some cookies.
After supper the animators evaluated the meeting, reconfirmed its importance for the delegates, stressed the need for a better communication among them, reiterated their commitment at the service of justice, peace and Integrity of creation in their entities through their work in the following three critical areas:
- We give special concern to the following categories of people:
a) those excluded and marginalised (as identified by each Entity).
b) those infected by HIV/AIDS and/or other infectious diseases (malaria, TB, waterborne diseases)
- We try to work so as to eliminate in so far as possible inequalities among the friars and we try to encourage the development of a just distribution of resources among the people in the Countries where we live and work.
- Peace is necessary in order for development to take place. We urge the friars in all Entities to establish a process of conscience formation which will include formation and training in conflict management (prevention and resolution) and peace building. This formation will be made available to the friars and to the people in the places where we are living.