Serving God's People in Africa since 1868

Help Provide Educational Studies to those in Burundi

50 years ago. I can remember the occasion of my ordination, my family and friends were standing around, and someone was congratulating my mother. She was a very humble, gentle woman who simply said – “There is still a very long way to go.” Oh the wisdom of mothers!

Some 25 years on, I can remember reading an article at the occasion of my 25th Jubilee. It was a wonderful article by Fr. William Buckley, S.J. in which the author was sharing his reflections and experiences: “was he weak enough to be a priest?”


Dear Friend,

50 years ago. I can remember the occasion of my ordination, my family and friends were standing around, and someone was congratulating my mother. She was a very humble, gentle woman who simply said – “There is still a very long way to go.” Oh the wisdom of mothers!

Some 25 years on, I can remember reading an article at the occasion of my 25th Jubilee. It was a wonderful article by Fr. William Buckley, S.J. in which the author was sharing his reflections and experiences: “was he weak enough to be a priest?”

Now some twenty-five years later, it still resonates with me more than ever. Amid the ups and downs, I can still thank God for what He has managed to achieve through me. Certainly, my missionary journey over the years followed lines I never imagined. I dreamt that I would spend my time in a poor country parish in Africa. However, in fact most of my life as a missionary I have spent outside that Continent.

In Africa I fell sick and had various surgeries, the healing took time and medically I was advised not to go back on a long-term basis. Therefore, my mission remained the same, but took other turns of living it out. In fact, I spent many years as “God’s beggar” asking for help for the poor in various parts of our missions. It was not what I planned but often we propose but God disposes. God often sees things differently and the difficult part on our end of the deal is not to box Him in!

A couple of years ago I “retired” from the development office for health reasons. Recently Denis Pringle, our Director of Development, with whom I worked with for many years, asked me if I would write an article and so I write…I didn’t ask it for myself but for those I served through my missionary colleagues who are actually working in Africa.

Although I will not plan any big ceremonial celebration on my 50th Jubilee as most of my family are gone. Therefore, I thought I would “celebrate” by asking for a special gift in the name of one of my missionary colleague presently working with the Batwa people in Burundi.
You perhaps knew in former times the Batwa people as the “pygmies.” I did ask help for them in the past when I was Director of Development. Through Fr. Elias Mwebembezi, (who is still working there) land was acquired for this minority group to help them adapt and integrate into the general population. Fr. Elias is a very tall man who has dedicated much of his effort to helping the “Batwa” people. They, in many ways, remain a marginalized people; though houses have been built, a dispensary established, campaigns against diseases etc. yet much remains to be done.

Fr. Elias’ in his recent request for education material is asking for help for 2,500 children who are in grade school and 300 in high school. Education is the primary option for the advancement and integration into society. This project is one of the main efforts of the Missionaries of Africa in Burundi in this post war reconstruction period where so much death and destruction occurs and such pain-filled memories are engraved in the hearts of all.

I have never won a lottery and do not have a great amount of money of my own, but I thought of your cooperation and generosity in the past. I would have a real reason to give thanks to God at this special moment in my life as a Missionary. Fr. Elias is asking for $25,000 for educational assistance for these children who really ARE among the very poor.

As I launch this appeal, I think of Jesus saying – “Ask and you shall receive” and “As long as you do it to the least of my brothers or sisters you do it to ME.” I will live in hope and appreciation of your gift for Fr. Elias and his Batwa people.

Thank you and please do not forget a prayer for yours truly.

Your Missionary Friend,

Fr. John Lynch, M.Afr.

P.S. I still keep many memories of the wonderful help given by people just like you, who have given our missionaries so much support and help. We offer a special prayer each day in our Community Masses for you and those you hold close in your heart.