Temporary calm at Congolese novitiate

The following is an English translation of the original Italian that has been posted at www.dehon.it:

Situation of the Novitiate in Kiragho-Butembo
As a movement toward normality in Congo

Rome 13 August 2010

After the turbulent days and days of changes the novitiate community at Kiragho Butembo is returning to a serene life and normal rhythm.  Some events in particular have contributed to the dissolving the climate of tension and of factionalism that had affected the life of our confreres in the zone where the novitiate is.

These confreres (and novices), after a meeting held on the time of the night of the 10th and 11th of August and at the insistence of the provincial superior, have returned to the novitiate, where only Father Osnildo remained, who was ill with fever.

On the 11th of August the ministry of the interior had a meeting in Butembo with the prefect (mayor) of the city, other civil authorities, and the bishop.  They spoke first with the priests of the parish of Kiragho and then with Father Osnildo at the novitiate.  They verified the perilous security situation, they suggested sending in a military garrison to that area, that in the judgment of our confreres, would be leaving in the following days.. Their presence could end up being counter productive and possibly attract the attention of new bandits.

Our confreres in the parish have accepted the call to return, but have asked the bishop for a period of rest outside the immediate area, to calm down and recharge their energy.  The bishop gave permission to take this time of rest, and in the meantime, the care of the community will be entrusted to a diocesan priest.  There is attention and solidarity among our confreres.  Father Silvano Ruardo, scj from the community of Mambasa, just returning from Uganda, has arrived in Butembo with a truck and has supplied the pantry (storage) of the novitiate with some necessary products after these days of destruciton and confusion.   Today, Friday the 13th of August, two confreres must leave from Kisangani for Butembo by air.  They will spend some few days with the community there.  In the meantime, they are thinking about how to provide for a satellite connection to  Kiragho-Butembo.  This may be possibly done by telephone or internet in the future, but are currently non-existent.

We are grateful to the Lord for the recent developments of the situation, but there are many things that still need resolution:

The local security situation continues to be precarious, as is true in the entire eastern part of the country.

It is certain that the ministry is now directly aware of the situation.  We hope that these days of suffering, fear and disorientation, will eventually contribute to an increase of security among the population, who have been terrorized by bandits in these last days.

For the novices, this has been a difficult experience, but also a time of reflection and consideration of their motives in choosing their vocations.

A special thought goes to Fr. Osnildo that, without complaint, has demonstrated a fundamental reason (attitude/stance) toward his life and his missionary vocation, with courage and solidarity toward the people of the place, in the face of violence.

To the bishop of Beni-Butembo we send heartfelt thanks for his pastoral care, solicitude, and friendship with which he has accompanied our confreres during this difficult time.

We are living through these events in the light of faith and we continue to read these things as the signs of the presence of the gospel in a world that continues to be in need of us announcing peace, disposing ourselves to risk again life to disarm violence that struggles, with prophetic attitude of courage that proposes reconciliation and solidarity.

Father Rinaldo Paganelli, scj
SCJ Printing Office