On their way to the Kingdom of Swaziland (from Italy)

 Italiano - English below
Next August the diocese of Manzini will be welcoming a group of young people with two Sisters (St Peter Claver) coming from Nichelino (Italy). Last week they received the missionary mandate.

Pronti, partenza...via!
Proprio ieri, domenica 22 giugno 2014, i gruppi in partenza per le esperienze missionarie si sono ritrovati per salutarsi e ricevere la benedizione dell’Arcivescovo di Torino, Cesare Nosiglia, nella storica sede dell’Istituto Missioni della Consolata.

Canti, video e preghiera hanno accompagnato tutti i presenti a vivere con semplicità e apertura d’animo un bel momento di condivisione e per augurare a tutti di portare nel cuore gioia e serenità in qualsiasi angolo del pianeta.

Il gruppo di Nichelino conta dieci ragazzi che non vedono l’ora di partire alla volta dello Swaziland, dove verranno accolti dal vescovo José Luis e vivranno sicuramente un’esperienza unica e indimenticabile con i fratelli swazilandesi.

Ready, set, go!

Yesterday, Sunday 22nd June 2014, all the leaving/outgoing groups ready to live missionary experiences met to greet each other and receive the Turin Archbishop’s blessing in the headquarters of the Consolata Missionaries of Turin.

Songs, videos, prayers have been the core of the day to support everyone and give some easy tips to live with clarity and openmindedness a very nice time of reflection and to wish everyone to share the fire of love and joy in every corner of the world.

The Nichelino’s (small town near Turin) Group consists of 10 young people looking forward to meet their brothers in Swaziland, where they’ll be welcomed by José Luis, the Bishop and by all the people to spend with them a unique and unforgettable experience.


Malindza Refugee Camp (Swaziland)

While I was preparing something for the blog regarding our commemoration of the World Refugee Day I came across the article below written in October 2006 that gives a bit of the history of this refugee camp served by Caritas.

Nearly 30 years after UNHCR (UN Refugee Agency) opened an office in the tiny mountain kingdom of Swaziland to help people fleeing apartheid in South Africa, the UN agency is preparing for the country to take sole responsibility for all refugee services.

Tiny Swaziland may not have imagined in 1978 it would end up providing protection to thousands of other refugees. But it met its responsibility, with the help of UNHCR, by converting the Malindza reception centre into a refugee camp accommodating at its peak some 8,000 Mozambicans fleeing their civil war.

Another camp was established in Ndzevane for 7,000 South African refugees of Swazi ethnic origin who were forced from the newly established KwaZulu homeland in South Africa. They were joined by more Mozambicans and by the mid-1980s Swaziland hosted some 20,000 refugees. But the collapse of apartheid and peace in Mozambique cleared the way for repatriation.

"With the changed political situation in both South Africa and Mozambique in the 1990s the number of refugees in Swaziland dropped significantly," said Abel Mbilinyi, UNHCR's deputy regional representative. "Through UNHCR several thousand South Africans and approximately 16,000 Mozambicans were repatriated from Swaziland, leading to the need for a review of UNHCR's presence."

The review led UNHCR to end its physical presence in 2001, leaving the main functions of protection to the government and assistance with CARITAS, UNHCR's main implementing partner. Since then, UNHCR support has come from its Pretoria office. A review of the number of refugees and asylum seekers still in Swaziland is encouraging further changes.

"The number of people in Malindza Refugee Camp dropped from a couple of hundred to several dozen, which lead to our request to the government of Swaziland to verify the number of refugees and asylum seekers in the country," said Mbilinyi. Swaziland this month launched a verification of all refugees and asylum seekers in the country.

"For us," said Mbilinyi, "the exercise also ensures that legal protection measures are put in place, such as the issuance of relevant identification documents to enable refugees to exercise their rights as well as to have correct statistics, given the fact that UNHCR has communicated to the government of Swaziland its intentions to exit the refugee programme by the end of 2008."

This development is not unique to Swaziland. UNHCR is talking with several governments in the region about plans to streamline or discontinue operations. For CARITAS the verification prepares them for the time when the refugee programme will be administered fully by the government and itself.

"What we envisage with the conclusion of the verification exercise would be to profile and extract a very current skills inventory of the refugees in the country, so that when we begin planning we would be talking about the kind of interventions that benefit the refugees most," said Reggie Magagula, the Caritas project coordinator. "This goes towards better planning for the future."

UNHCR's handover of the Swaziland's refugee programme will be a big adjustment for both refugees and government officials. UNHCR envisages its exit from the refugee programme will be a two-pronged exercise. First, UNHCR will hand over the Ndzevane Refugee Camp, which UNHCR and donor communities contributed for the use of South African and Mozambican refugees in the 1980s.

"The handover of Ndzevane will include in addition to physical facilities such as schools and a health centre now used by the communities in that area eight water tanks to store water and an ambulance donated to the government," said Mbilinyi. He believes this will be in six to 12 months.

The second stage, will be Malindza refugee camp. "Swaziland has informed UNHCR that it wishes to keep Malindza open for any refugee inflows that may occur in the future. We are keeping the health facility open as it benefits the local people and we still provide a little educational assistance for refugee children attending school in Malindza, though we are now encouraging parents to contribute more," said Mbilinyi.

Despite apprehension among some government officials, they are assuming more responsibility by streamlining services in Malindza. UNHCR has contributed to improving the infrastructure but wants those refugees who remain to understand that the UN refugee agency will be ending its assistance.

"Although UNHCR has contributed to improving the infrastructure of the camp, what we would like to stress to the government is that refugees should make the choice to be there, knowing that there'll be no further assistance from UNHCR, particularly after 2008," Mbilinyi said.

By Pumla Rulashe in Malindza Refugee Camp, Swaziland


"World Refugee Day" at Malindza

World Refugee Day is celebrated on June 20 every year. The Malindza Camp does it on the nearest Saturday. This year was no exception and with the present of national (the minister of Home Affairs, Her Royal Highness Princess Tsandzile), members of Parliament, local authorities (Chief Ndlondlo) and representatives of UNICEF and UNHCR we all gathered at midday at Malindza.

The program lasted a couple of hours and the refugees gave us a taste not only of their music and dances but also of their local food (at the end).

I was present as president of Caritas Swaziland who is implementing partner of the UNHCR. In the midst of the tragedy of a situation that has affected more than 50 million people in the world in invited everyone to celebrate "the courage, determination and faith of the millions of refugees worldwide who have been forced to take the difficult decision of abandoning their land and families in search of a better tomorrow in a foreign and sometimes hostile land." together with "the spirit of the Swazi people who open their hearts and welcome them."

Then, in the name of Caritas Swaziland, I renewed our commitment to continue with this service: 
"I wish to conclude Honorable Minister, by pledging the commitment of the Roman Catholic Church through its social development arm, Caritas Swaziland, whose President I am, that we shall continually strive to ensure that refugees and asylum-seekers gain access to quality education, health-care and indeed are assisted to generate income aimed at improving their lives such that a certain measure of their dignity is restored to them."
The Minister of Home Affairs invited us all to celebrate and appreciate the lives of those who have been displaced, to reflect on the progress made in this area and the challenges still present together with a commitment to find lasting and durable solutions. She also underlined an element we might miss: "refugees bring their experience and hope... they enrich our country".
One thing that remained clear in my heart is that the service done by Caritas Swaziland at Malindza is done silently like many other services done by the church in the country.

St Lucia Retreat Centre: the stained glass has arrived!

From the very beginning of the project, when we were just started to talk about the idea, one of the members of the community told me about his wish to donate a stained glass of St Lucia. We immediately said "yes" to the idea but... nothing had prepared us to how beautiful it would be.

The three pieces arrived last Wednesday evening in St Lucia and by Thursday afternoon they had been put in its place in the new church.

The stained glass brings not just elements of the life of St Lucia but adds elements of our "local St Lucia": note the crocodile and the hippo at the bottom of the image!


 Congratulations to the author and "thanks a lot" to all those who made it possible!


20 June: Feast of Our Lady Consolata

We beseech you, Almighty God,
may the intercession of her,
whom you have chosen Virgin and Mother of your Son
obtain for our Congregation and for all its members
integrity of faith, 
perseverance in vocation,
missionary ardour for evangelization,
and fruitfulness int he apostolate.

Assist, sanctify and guide
our Father General and all superiors.
With your grace, sustain us your servants,
sustain the houses and the missionary works,
reward those who do good to us,
our parents, relatives and friends.

Preserve us in peace and in unity of spirit,
grant serenity and strength to our sick brothers and sisters
support the weak and the vacillating,
welcome into your kingdom those who have died.

With the grace of your Spirit,
increase the missionary activity of our Congregation
so that the Gospel may spread
and all peoples may know you, the one true God,
and him whom you have sent,
Jesus Christ your son
born of the Virgin Mary.



St Lucia... looking more and more beautiful!

If you have been following the blog or the "St Lucia Retreat and Training Centre" Project, you might remember I uploaded some photographs a month' ago. Just a month' ago. In fact, you can go and have a look at them.

Wednesday we met for an update. It was... a different place! The huge hole at the centre of the plot has been filled up and for the first time in the last year we were able to go into the plot with our vehicles. 

The new church has been painted, frames are in place for the huge glasses, soon the St Lucia in stained glass will be uploaded, the tabernacle has been fixed. Just click on the link below to have a look at the photos. 

 Click HERE for more photos of the Church
Also the hall has been painted and, I must say, it looks impressive. It can accommodate 150 people. There is lots of space around and a beautiful view.
Click HERE for photos of the hall

Finally, the cottages. Having been grouped in two areas (five on one side of the plot and four on the other side) gives a sense of privacy and quietness for those who will be in retreat. There will also be three more rooms in the Centre which are part of the old house.

Click HERE for photos of the cottages

As you see, this time I thought of grouping the photos so that you could have a better picture of the progress. 

At the end of the visit we had our usual "business session" dealing with the things that need to be done in the coming months.

The plan has not changed: the Centre will be opened next 1st November 2014. We are grateful to God and to you all for this.

* * *
If you want to be part of the "buy-a-brick" project:

Banking Details

Account name: St Lucia Centre
Bank: First National Bank
Account Number: 62 285 445 807
Branch: Mtubatuba
Branch number: 220330

Cnr Jan Smuts & St Lucia Avenue
South Africa


Or click here:



The miracle attributed to the intercession of Sr Irene Stefani MC

The miracle attributed to the intercession of Sister Irene Stefani is the multiplication of the water of the baptismal font of the parish church of Nipepe (Diocese of Lichinga, Niassa, Mozambique), which served catechists from different parishes of the diocese, gathered for a training course together with the parish priest, Father Giuseppe Frizzi IMC. 
They had remained segregated in the church of Nipepe, together with other people of the area who took refuge there, due to the belligerence between the two factions Frelimo and Renamo, who sowed destruction and death. It is about 260 people, including many children running around in the church in the hottest period of the year, January 1989. 
Sister Irene's intercession was invoked and there was enough water for all the refugees in the church for three and a half days, and not just for drinking, but also to cool off from the sweat and also to wash a baby girl born on that occasion and called Irene. 
There was no possibility to provide themselves with water and the catechist Bernardo gave them permission to use than the baptismal font, which they would never have dared to touch.  
It is a font dug in a tree trunk, with numerous cracks, so much water was leaking. At the end of their segregation, the head of the parish, P. Frizzi, noticed that the floor was very wet around the baptistery. Astonished, he was informed by the people of what had happened. 
The engineers have estimated that at the beginning of imprisonment should not be more than four, maximum six liters of water in the dugout. Sister Irene was the only one invoked every day for the salvation of catechists. The witnesses continue to repeat, in various ways: "For we are saved through the intercession of Sister Irene", "She has listened to us and helped"; "Irene was the mother to do the miracle" ...

Venne quindi preso in considerazione il miracolo attribuito alla intercessione di Suor Irene Stefani. 
Si tratta della moltiplicazione dell’acqua del fonte battesimale della chiesa parrocchiale di Nipepe (Diocesi di Lichinga, Niassa, Mozambico), di cui si servirono i catechisti di varie parrocchie della diocesi, riuniti per un corso formativo assieme al Parroco, P. Giuseppe Frizzi IMC, e rimasti segregati nella chiesa di Nipepe, nella quale accorsero anche persone del paese, a causa della belligeranza tra le due fazioni Frelimo e Renamo, che seminavano devastazione e morte. Si tratta di circa 260 persone, inclusi molti bambini che scorrazzavano nella chiesa nel periodo più caldo dell’anno, gennaio 1989. 
Fu invocata Suor Irene e si ebbe acqua sufficiente per tutti i rifugiati in chiesa per tre giorni e mezzo, e non solo per bere, ma pure per rinfrescarsi dal sudore e anche per lavare una bambina nata in quella circostanza e chiamata Irene. Non vi era nessun’altra possibilità di fornirsi di acqua e il catechista Bernardo diede il permesso di servirsi di quella del fonte battesimale, che essi, dicono gli interessati, non avrebbero mai avuto l’ardire di toccare. 
Si tratta di un fonte battesimale scavato in un tronco di albero, con numerose crepe, per cui perdeva molta acqua. Alla fine della segregazione, il responsabile della parrocchia, P. Frizzi, si accorse che il pavimento attorno al battistero era molto bagnato. Stupito, fu informato dalla gente di quanto era avvenuto. I tecnici hanno valutato che all’inizio della prigionia non dovevano esserci più di quattro, al massimo sei, litri di acqua nel tronco scavato. Suor Irene, e solo lei venne invocata ogni giorno per la salvezza dei catechisti. 
I testimoni presenti continuano a ripetete, in vari modi: “Per intercessione di Suor Irene siamo salvi”, “Lei ci ha ascoltato e aiutato”; “è stata madre Irene a fare il miracolo”, e così via.


"Blessed" Suor Irene Stefani MC (Consolata Missionary Sister)

Pope Francis authorized the promulgation of the decree for the beatification of
Sr. Irene Stefani, Consolata Missionary

(tomorrow, the miracle attributed to her intercession)

Anfo (Italy), August 22  1891
 Ghekondi (Kenya), October 31  1930

A mother “all compassion and love” this is the name given to sister Irene by the African people. A phrase which embraces a whole life of total dedica­tion to God in the path of generous service and evangelization.

In 1911, at the age of twenty, Irene chose to become a missionary among the Consolata Sisters, an Institute founded in Turin (Italy) just a year before by blessed Joseph Allamano.

On January 29, 1914 in Turin while taking her vows she expressed in few lines the program of her life:
“Only Jesus.
Totally with Jesus...
Totality belonging to Jesus...
Totally for Jesus.
Do this and you will live!”

Sister Irene reached Kenya in January 1915. There she lived the life of the early pioneers: in great poverty, hard labor and isolation. Her generous heart knew no bounds in giving herself in love full of compassion and in proclaiming to all her greatest treasure: the Good News that Jesus, the Son of God, was their Savior.

A few months after her arrival in Kenya, the first world war reached the English an German colonial territories of East Africa. Sister Irene offered to be among the Red Cross Volunteers involved in a hard and stressful work of mercy; nursing among the “carriers” in make­shift military hospitals, where thousands were crowded. For three years patiently and with heroic dedication she worked to alleviate with love and compassion, the tragedy of a people taken forcibly neglected in an almost inhuman situation.

After the war we find Sister Irene back among her beloved Akikuyu, directly involved in pastoral work of evangelization, in nursing, teaching, visiting the families, always ready to welcome, to help, to encourage, to guide gently the youth so that they might live fully their newly found faith. Everywhere she worked in a so charitable way that people named her “Nyaatha” which means “the Merciful Mother”. 

The year 1930 was a particularly difficult one for the Institute and the Mission.

Sister Irene well aware of this, asked her superior to be allowed to sacrifice her “poor, useless life for the mission”. “I can't say no - said Mother Ferdinanda - but let us do the will of God, nothing but the will of God”.

Sister Irene had been granted the great permission, but she did not know that God would respond at once and would soon come to take her. Just two weeks later she died, victim of her heroic charity, of an illness contracted while caring far the plague-stricken people of the villages. 

It was October 31, 1930.

Up and down in the Kikuyu hills the news spread in a flash and was received with a mourning that had never been heard before, because now the “Nyaatha - the mother all compassion and love” was dead.

Her mortal remains lie now in the Consolata Church in Nyeri.

More than fifty years after her death, her memory is very much alive.

The Church of Nyeri (Kenya) and the Church of Turin (Italy) are asking that the heroic virtues of sister Irene be recognized to the glory of God and the good of all.

Sister Irene continues even today her missionary journey of compassion and love, by obtaining many favours.

An unexpected blessing...!

Last week I went to St Joseph's Mission to briefly meet Fr Angelo Ciccone OSM and agree with him on the dates of the coming celebrations (opening of churches, confirmations...).

Leaving his office I saw the children playing outside and went to greet each one of them. It was a joyful moment for all of us and a blessing so we decided to have a photograph together.

Someone said I made their day. They certainly made mine.  "Cheese...!"

Owning the diocesan webpage

 The diocesan priests of the Diocese of Manzini meet every month. At the beginning of the year they make the "year plan" indicating "dates" and "places" of the meetings as they do it every time in a different parish.

At one of their meetings they planned a three-day gathering on important themes. One of them was: "computers, social media, webpage...". For some reason they decided to ask me, the bishop, to help them with that. 

What we basically did was a first session of basic things like not leaving the computer without an updated antivirus and then we tried to identify common elements of interest as we could stay there for hours talking about these things.

One of them was "the diocesan webpage" which has been recreated and updated thanks to the hard work of Shereé at "Mariannhill Media".

We then planned a practical exercise. Those interested would be back one week later with a text and a photo they would like to publish.

So we did! Seven diocesan priests met a week later for the first training session.

Well... not everyone had prepared a text but they could find something in their computers they would like to publish.

They were all granted access to publish in the webpage and learnt to load their own material. We worked together for two hours and by the end 

We hope to meet again in the future to keep on learning and, more than that, to share on how this virtual space could help us be good news in the diocese of Manzini.

A new way of reading ANOTHER well known text...

The ANOTHER in capitals is for those who have read the previous post with a similar title. First, the original text from St Teresa of Avila.

Christ Has No Body

Christ has no body but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
Compassion on this world,
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,
Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,
Yours are the eyes, you are his body.
Christ has no body now but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
compassion on this world.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours.

Teresa of Avila (1515–1582)

Then, reading things on media, I came across the following one:

“Christ has no online presence but yours
No blog, no Facebook but yours
Yours are the tweets by which love touches the online world 
Yours are the posts through which the Gospel is shared 
Yours are the updates through which hope is revealed.”

by an Australian youth minister.

One could "link it" to what Pope Benedict XVI wrote:
"Believers are increasingly aware that, unless the Good News is made known also in the digital world, it may be absent in the experience of many people for whom this existential space is important. The digital environment is not a parallel or purely virtual world, but is part of the daily experience of many people, especially the young."
47th World Communications' day 
"Social Networks: portals of truth and faith; new spaces for evangelization."
[Sunday, 12 May 2013]


"More strength to Hope" (Hope House)

Praying together at the beginning of the project at Hope House
"More strength to Hope" is the name of a project that has started at "Hope House", the hospice of the Diocese of Manzini. The details of the project were prepared by Sr Elsa Joseph MSMHC but the name was chosen by Chiara Giovetti, a lay woman working in Rome at the project office of the Consolata Missionaries. It immediately clicked. 

Chiara visited the Diocese of Manzini last week and we thought it would be a good idea to have a little prayer gathering and sod cutting done by her. Mr William Kelly, Director of Caritas Swaziland, welcomed us and Mr Harry Nxumalo close the gathering thanking everyone, particularly the Italian Bishops' Conference. He explained that for a long time they had been dreaming to do this, so this is "a dream come true" thanks to this generous donation.

The project is financed by the Italian Bishops' Conference (CEI) and it will allow:
  • to renovate 10 of the 25 units, 
  • to build a new storeroom and
  • a retaining wall (to stop the water from damaging some of the units)
  • to update the Hope House's staff
  • to train the patients, their family members and the informal caregivers in palliative care, methods to deal with the pain and loss, precautions to avoid infection and other related matters,
  • to recruit a physiotherapist 

Things are already moving fruit of the usual efficiency of Sr Elsa Josephs and her team. All should be done in the next 12 months.

We are deeply grateful to the benefactors who support the Catholic Church in Italy and to Chiara for helping us make it possible ... and for coming to stay with us!


"Six on the way" (around the world by car)

The "six on the way" with the Bishop and the Director of Caritas
Not sure how common it is to have four small children joyfully running around at a bishop's house, doing a couple of hours of "school" at the meeting room, playing with terminally ill children at the hospice and painting a room at a youth project...

It all started with a Whatsapp message where a friend of mine told me about people they knew coming to Swaziland: "They are travelling around the world by car... a couple and four children. They would like to visit you".

Bastien (father), Aurélie (mother), Faustine, Rose, Bertille and Zélie came and asked if they could park their car at the bishop's house. They would just camp there. No need for anything else. 

Whenever possible we'd quote the gospel: "there are many rooms in my Father's house"... I welcomed them and without saying more than that, rooms were prepared for them in the house (it seems the children were happy to have "proper beds" for a few nights).

I asked them if before leaving, they would share their story for this blog. Here it is.

"Discovering two years' ago the genetic disease of our third child, we reflected once again on what is really important for us... That inner journey led us to decide to travel around the world as a family for two years. We wanted to discover the world with our own eyes, its miseries but also its beauties. We wanted to grow in love and convey our four daughters (Faustine, 9 years' old; Rose, 7 years' old; Bertille, 5 years' old and Zelie 2 years' old) a sense of hope in order to give them the pleasure of growing up, love and act in this world .

We then became the "six on the way" on board of a Land Rover adapted to be a kind of a house. We travelled South America for 8 months and we had a very intense mission experience in Santiago de Chile with the 'Mercy International Association': as a family and with the people of the neighborhood, we fixed a room dedicated to the school support of street children of a village.

Desiring to also give some of our time in Africa where we have just arrived, we called the bishop of the diocese of Manzini who opened the doors of his big house and his diocese. We spent 8 days in Manzini. We repainted a study room of a children's village founded by the Salesians to support orphans and we played with sick children at "Hope House" (where terminally ill patients are welcomed with their families). It has been an experience that, hopefully, will forever mark our children...

Thank you Bishop for generously hosting us, sharing our exciting stories about South Africa, Swaziland and the mission and the Church!"

You can know more about them by visiting their webpage:



Missionarie coraggiose: Sr Barbara Staley

The article below has been taken from the Italian edition of L'Osservatore Romano.
Sr Barbara Staley, a Cabrini Sister, has been working in Swaziland for many years
and she has now been chosen ninth Superior General of the Cabrini Sisters.
Our Diocese who enjoyed the blessing of her presence
is now asked to share with the rest of the world.
For those who do not speak Italian... hope the Google translation helps you read it.

Barbara Staley eletta superiora generale delle cabriniane
di Lucetta Scaraffia

Madre Barbara Staley è stata eletta nona superiora generale delle missionarie del Sacro Cuore di Gesù, fondate da Francesca Saverio Cabrini, la santa proclamata patrona degli emigranti nel 1950. Nata a Buffalo (New York) l’8 gennaio 1958, laureata in scienze sociali alla New York University, madre Barbara è un esempio vero e forte di missionaria: dopo un primo apostolato in alcune comunità del Guatemala per lo sviluppo e la promozione umana, ha lavorato con gli immigrati clandestini a Chicago, ma soprattutto per dieci anni è stata al servizio dei malati di Aids, di tubercolosi e degli orfani, vittime di queste pandemie, ospitati nella missione di Saint Philip nello Swaziland.

È stata un’esperienza eroica e coraggiosa quella di madre Barbara: con il solo aiuto di un’altra missionaria, suor Diane, ha combattuto per anni contro l’epidemia di Aids in un Paese che è al primo posto nel mondo per l’infezione da Hiv, cercando di contrastarne la diffusione, di curare i malati e soprattutto di seguire la schiera di orfani che rischiavano di morire perché nessuno se ne occupava. L’epidemia infatti ha distrutto tutte le forme tradizionali di aiuto comunitario, che non hanno retto alla vertiginosa serie di morti, al punto che i bambini — spesso anch’essi malati — si trovavano a lottare da soli per la sopravvivenza.

La missione doveva così allevare bambini senza genitori e tutti dicevano alle missionarie che il problema era impossibile da risolvere, senza sapere che sono donne preparate a non arrendersi mai, soprattutto quando la gente muore davanti a loro. Ogni giorno dovevano trovare il cibo per i bambini dell’orfanotrofio in crescita costante, dovevano assistere i malati girando con un vecchio e malandato furgone per tutto il Paese, cercando di convincerli a fare l’analisi del sangue e a prendere le medicine, quando c’erano.

Le due missionarie sono riuscite così a far costruire un sistema decente di irrigazione, ad ampliare l’ambulatorio medico (arrivato a trattare fino a ottocento malati al giorno) e il direttore dell’Organizzazione mondiale della sanità che opera nello Swaziland sostiene che il Cabrini Ministries è un modello per il resto del Paese proprio per il suo programma originale, che tiene insieme diagnosi, cura ed educazione seguendo attivamente i pazienti, uno per uno, secondo il motto della missione «Ripristinare la vita, riaccendere la speranza».


A new way of reading a well-known text...

Reading a reflection on the church and the new media by Irish Archbishop Eamon Martin I came across this text:

"Many people say that it was a four minute speech which led to the election of Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Buenos Aires as Pope. 

In his pre-conclave speech to the other Cardinals, he used the popular image from the Book of Revelation of Jesus standing at the door and knocking. 

But in an unusual and inspired way he turned the image around: “Obviously, the text refers to his knocking from the outside in order to enter but I think about the times in which Jesus knocks from within so that we will let him come out. The self-referential Church keeps Jesus Christ within herself and does not let him out….” A Church which does not come out of herself to evangelise, he said, becomes self-referential and then gets sick."

We have become familiar over the past year with this consistent theme in the teaching of Pope Francis. In Evangelii Gaudium he writes: ‘I prefer a Church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a Church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security…. If something should rightly disturb us and trouble our consciences, it is the fact that so many of our brothers and sisters are living without the strength, light and consolation born of friendship with Jesus Christ, without a community of faith to support them, without meaning and a goal in life’.

By the way, I tried to "google" "Jesus knocking from within" hoping to find an image for this blog but... could not find it. Hope you do!

Food distribution project (Good Shepherd & St Peregrine's)

Last week we welcomed Chiara Giovetti who came from Rome to visit our Diocese. Chiara works at the project office of the Consolata Missionaries and was instrumental in helping our diocese receive support for a couple of projects. 

One of them allows us to provide food to about 750 children (100 of which are under 18 months' old) in three parishes: Good Shepherd (Siteki), St Peregrine's (Bulandzeni) and Holy Rosary (Mankanyane). 

We were able to visit two of these centres during her stay in the country. It was also a good opportunity for me to be there. 

I had heard about the importance of the project and the clear situation of need of so many people but I had never been there. It is really so.

During our stay at Good Shepherd (Siteki) someone stood up to thank the Catholic Church for the project and added two more things:
  • the first one is the hope that the project will continue in the future (and this will depend on receiving more funds as the diocesan resources are very limited;
  • the second one, which touched me most, was: "there are many other children in the community who do not have enough to eat"
This second one touched me because of their sense of being one family where everyone counts. They are grateful for what they receive and hope it will continue but they cannot close their eyes to the need of others.

It also touched me because aware of what was in front of me and her words, one cannot but wonder how comes that so many children, so many people do not have enough to eat in this beautiful country. 

For us, as a church, it is not enough to give food to those that are hungry. We need to understand why it is happening and work with others to make sure we all live with the dignity of a child of God.

Thinking of this I came across the following text from the "Compedium of the Social Doctrine of the Church":
"5. Love faces a vast field of work and the Church is eager to make her contribution with her social doctrine, which concerns the whole person and is addressed to all people. So many needy brothers and sisters are waiting for help, so many who are oppressed are waiting for justice, so many who are unemployed are waiting for a job, so many peoples are waiting for respect. How can it be that even today there are still people dying of hunger? Condemned to illiteracy? Lacking the most basic medical care? Without a roof over their head? The scenario of poverty can extend indefinitely..."


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Bishop of the Diocese of Manzini (Swaziland)

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