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Br Massimo Fusarelli visits the Province of Our Lady of the Angels

Democratic Republic of Congo

18 February 2024

From the 12th to 16th February the Minister General, Br Massimo Fusarelli, and the General Definitor for Africa, Br Victor Quematcha, visited the friars of the Province of Our Lady of the Angels, in the Democratic Republic of Congo. This Province derives from that of St Benedict the African, and was canonically erected on the 16th February 2015. It is currently made up of 102 brothers, of which 75 are solemnly professed and 27 are temporarily professed. Amongst the solemnly professed there are a bishop, 61 priests, 6 transitional deacons, 4 brothers with clerical option and 3 lay brothers. All 27 temporarily professed are clerical options trained in the country and some in the Holy Land. 

In addition to the training of postulants and novices which takes place in Mbujimayi and the animation of the Franciscan Family, the friars are mainly engaged in three pastoral sectors: parishes, Christian education and health. Thus these friars are distributed in 17 fraternities, both in the Republic of Congo and abroad; others live in inter-provincial fraternities in the country, some are at the service of other Provinces. The brothers serve 13 parishes in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Belgium, France and Italy; they administer 46 schools in the dioceses of Mbujimayi and Tshilomba, a hospital in Mbujimayi and an orphanage in Mwene-Ditu. 

The Minister General and the Definitor General visited the Dioceses of Mbujimayi and Tshilomba. They met all the members of the Franciscan Family: the solemnly professed and temporarily professed friars, the novices and postulants; the Poor Clare Sisters of Saint Clare of the Mamu wa Bupole Monastery in Mbujimayi; regular and secular tertiaries, in addition to the Franciscan Youth, Franciscan sympathizers, students, children and people of good will. In each place, Br Massimo and Br Victor met with the diocesan ecclesiastical authorities, members of the Franciscan Family and the Friars Minor. 

At the center of the meetings is the commitment of the friars to the service of the different dioceses, to ecclesial communion and to respect for the Franciscan identity; all members of the Franciscan Family were reminded of their common vocation, that of living the Holy Gospel in fraternity and minority, but also the celebration of the Franciscan Centenaries, that of the Rule and Christmas of Greccio (2023), that of the Stigmata of Saint Francis (2024), that of the Canticle of the Creatures (2025) and that of the Easter of Saint Francis (2026). The Friars Minor were reminded of the relevance of the Franciscan charism both inside and outside our Fraternities, a charism to be lived with true sincerity and commitment. 

This visit was an encouragement and a sign of hope in the difficult context of the Democratic Republic of Congo, characterized by the country's rich potential and the unspeakable misery in which the majority of the population languishes, by wars, insecurity and anguish, but also by the resilience and hope of a population that expects the Franciscans to be bearers of the gift of the Gospel which is the life and rule of the Friars Minor. 

Written with the contribution by Br Adélard-Marie Ntumba, OFM - Provincial Secretary

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