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Passing on the testimony

· The spiritual meaning of the work ·

“My Africa / I name you / for ever / and every time / a new sentiment / surprises me / Africa / with you / I exult and rejoice. / With you / I weep and suffer. / With you / I hope and hope / that the miracle / will happen / and that you / may truly / rise again” (Elisa Kidané, My Africa). A woman, poet and missionary dreams of the new morning, “the first day after the sabbath”, for her land. She dreams of the day that dawned in the hearts and eyes of the group of women who hastened to the Tomb where, for the first time, they met the Risen Lord.

This heart-rending miracle is already being brought about in Africa, the fruit of a long and loving gestation which African women, undaunted lovers of hope, have carried ahead with courage and determination.

Africa is a world because of the vastness of the continent and the crucible of races and cultures that characterize it. Beneath its skies that explode with stars, Africa – the cradle of humanity – tries every day to continue on its way courageously, under the scorching sun.

Still today the work involved in the evangelization of Africa is a great challenge for the Church and for the heralds of the Gospel: they are ready and willing, as they were 2,000 years ago, to take a desert road at midday when no one is about ( Acts 8:26) and to begin again to scatter the seed that will germinate in its own time. So it was that the evangelization of Africa began, and so it continues amidst enormous difficulties, with little steps, with tenacity and without presumption.

I remember the catechesis for mission workers in the south of Ethiopia; I remember their thirst for the word of God. Many of them were illiterate but they wanted the Bible all the same – it was the Holy Book that they put in the place of honour in their poor huts as a pledge of blessing.

The work with the young people in the parishes has been surprising, and at times also gratifying. Their thirst for the divine obliges us to pass on to them the moral and spiritual patrimony that will assure their growth in the faith in harmony with their culture and traditions.

It is the perennial mission of the Church which proclaims Christ: a mission to be lived and carried out in Africa too, with the conviction that this challenge implies the ability and desire for involvement in the local Christian communities.

A great task awaits Gospel workers, a task that began long ago and that must be completed: “the search for the favourable moment” in order to pass the testimony on – with discretion and courage – to the local evangelizers. We have already entered a phase of transition, not improvised but intended and prepared for. The delicacy and problems of this time obviously escape no one.

We are called to be salt and light on the African continent where we must continue to present the Good News that saves and frees integrally, in a renewed effort of evangelization. In Africa many evangelizing experiences are of the first proclamation, kerygmatic.

Maria Regina Canale, A Cabrini missionary in Ethiopia

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