The Call to Preach
The Missionaries of Africa were founded over 130 years ago, for the
Evangelization of Africa. They continue today to remain faithful to their
mission to share the life and mission of Jesus, and to give witness to the
Gospel in Africa...
Our founder, Cardinal Charles Lavigerie, from the very beginning, wanted us
to be "apostles ... and nothing but apostles". In other words: men of
prayer and action.
The dictionary definition of the word "Preach" is to proclaim. The
Missionaries of Africa have always been committed to proclaiming the Christian
Faith, by preaching it, teaching it, but more importantly by
witnessing it, daily, in the way we live our lives.
One of the most original insights of Lavigerie is indisputably the way he
envisaged the preaching and teaching of the Christian Faith. He held a doctorate
in History from the Sorbonne in Paris and drew upon the ancient practices of the
Church, insisting on lengthy instruction for all those desiring to prepare
"I have decided that the ancient discipline of the Church, which has never
been formally abrogated, should be vigorously adhered to by all our
missionaries." (Letter to his missionaries of Equatorial Africa in 1879.) He was
a visionary, and much of the advice that he gave his missionaries was similar to
today's Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) which is familiar to many
in the Church today.
To this day the Missionaries of Africa have remained faithful to that
ruling of the founder, and to that tradition.
Building the Church
In some countries in Africa where the Missionaries
of Africa have worked, about 60% of the population are
Catholic (Rwanda, Burundi). It has been noted by several
authors (eg Pillip Jenkins "The Future of Christendom")
that the growth of the Church in Africa is so dynamic
that it may represent the future of Catholicism. In
contrast to the United States and Western Europe vocations
to the priestshood and the religious life are on the
increase, moreover the average age of priests and religious
declines each year, the number of religious communities,
parishes and dioceses is increasing each year.
Despite this growth there are still millions of African
who have not heard the Good News of Jesus Christ. The
Missionaries of Africa are turning over to the African
clergy the care of those Churches where the Gospel has
been heard and are devoting themselves to those who
have not heard the Gospel message.
Christian Development of the Laity
Notwithstanding the increase in African vocations,
a very large percentage of African Christians cannot
celebrate the Eucharist every Sunday and feast day.
In these areas the Church is led by lay leaders who
gather the people to pray. They effectively run the
Church in their villages. The education and support
of these lay leaders is a priority for the Missionaries
of Africa and the entire Church in Africa. Also a priority
is the deepening of the Faith among the educated and
elite classes in Africa.
Small Christian Communities
The are sometimes called "Small Christian Communities",
"Basic Christian Communities" whatever title is give
to them the reality is the same. These are groups of
adults who gather together in groups of 12, 15 or 20
people at the local village level. They read and reflect
upon the Word of God, and share with one another the
fruit of their reflection thus helping one another to
deepen their faith and understanding of Holy Scritpure.
But they do not stop there, for inspired by the Word
of God they look around them to see what they can do
to help the people of their own villages, how to help
the sick, the orphans, the widows, the homeless, even
going so far as to engage in self-help projects.
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