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LENTEN APPEAL 2014
St. Benedict, the “Father of Western Monasticism” invites his followers to mark the Lenten Season with good deeds and sacrifices but also to look forward with joy to holy Easter. It is in this spirit that I invite you to join forces with us in bringing God’s love to the people of the Diocese of Pemba in Mozambique where we Missionary Benedictines have been asked to assist with “re-planting” the faith.
I quote from a letter of Fr. Witmar Metzger, a missionary in Mtwara, Tanzania, who recently returned from a fact finding trip together with Abbot Dionys of Ndanda.
“Prior to the War for Independence (1964 to 1975), Dutch missionaries had established parishes and worked among the people. The missionaries had to flee the country at the outset of the fighting. Then from 1976 through 1992 a fierce tribal war ravaged the region. At the time of independence, President Samora Machel confiscated all church property, especially schools, hospitals, seminaries, convents, and rectories. It was strictly forbidden to assemble for worship. The government stated that “Religion is opium for the people.” In the 1990th the communistic ideology finally changed and permitted religion to flourish.
The Diocese of Pemba lacks priests and religious to provide pastoral care for the Christians. The African Benedictine Sisters of Ndanda accepted the invitation to help in the diocese. Four Sisters live in Imbuho under primitive conditions. The only priest in the region lives in the parish of Mueda, a 30 km distance. He is responsible for two parishes with 110 missions attached.
On Sundays the Sisters venture out on motorbike taxis to several missions. They lead the faithful in the celebration of the Liturgy of the Word and distribute Holy Communion which has been consecrated during Holy Mass the last time the parish priest was at Imbuho. On average, a 5 gallon bucket filled with consecrated hosts is left with the Sisters for distribution whenever the faithful gather for worship in one of the missions.
The pastoral outreach of the Sisters is an important task. After a fact finding mission by Abbot Dionys of Ndanda Abbey in neighboring Tanzania, together with Fr. Conrad and Fr. Witmar, the monastic chapter of Ndanda committed themselves to provide personnel for a parish, assist with building it up, and – hopefully – establish a monastic foundation of our Congregation.”
So far the remarks from Fr. Witmar’s report! You can imagine that a major building project is needed. The biggest problem at Imbuho: lack of water; no tools or machinery that can be utilized once construction starts.
The Sisters are eager to open a kindergarten and use the space also for other programs to reach parents and young adults, most of them not yet baptized. Next on the agenda will be improvements to the convent and a modest house for two or three monks of Ndanda Abbey who will be assigned to Imbuho. There is no chapel or church – Holy Mass is celebrated under a tree.
There is pioneer work to be done among the Wamakonde tribe – many of whom speak Kiswahili. During the tribal war, refugees from Mozambique found safe haven in Tanzania and several men of the Imbuho parish have worked together with Fr. Witmar on the construction of Lindi Cathedral. This is a very positive connection that will be helpful.
Let me summarize the needs of which Fr. Witmar spoke in his detailed report:
· water well and tools, machinery, and a truck for transporting material
· kindergarten and meeting space
· improvements to existing Sisters’ Convent and housing for the monks
· training of catechists
· church – a long range dream – estimated cost $250.000.00
· we need to raise $200,000.00 for kindergarten and housing for sisters and monks
During this Lenten Season we invite you to bring a financial sacrifice to assist us with deepening the faith among the people of Imbuho parish in Mozambique through the pastoral outreach of the Benedictines, and by helping to construct the needed facilities.
God bless you for your anticipated help.
We invite you to become a coworker in our ministries! Together let us bring “Light to the Blind”, as the motto of our Congregation suggests. Your prayerful and financial support will make a difference.
Please do not hesitate to let us know your needs and intentions which we promise to remember in our daily prayers.
Fr. Adam Patras, O.S.B.