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Monday, February 11, 2013
Shisong, Cameroon: thousands of people gathered to remember the story of 50 years of Fraternity. Gratitude towards those who started it and new horizons.

«An extraordinary story, a divine one, which you know well. So many years of faithfulness and commitment from many of you that made that seed grow –sown first in Cameroon. From that seed pieces of humanity renewed by love have blossomed, striving towards the realization of God’s project for the whole large African continent, and beyond». These are some excerpts from the message sent by Maria Voce (Emmaus), the President of the Focolare Movement, to the members of the movement in Africa, who are celebrating this year the 50th anniversary of the arrival of the Charism of unityin their continent.

There were 2000 persons gathered close to Fontem on the 9th February, at Shisong, in the Bamenda Region (North-West of Cameroon) the same place that welcomed the first focolarini who reached on the 12thFebruary 1963. There were all those who consider themselves as “Chiara’s children”. They had celebrated the Cry Die (the end of mourning) for the founder of the Focolare in January 2009, in that same place. With that event Chiara was solemnly counted among the ancestors, and therefore worthy to be remembered and invoked, because “her ideal of solidarity, spirituality, sharing, and love cannot die”. There were also those who in these years have taken part in the “New Evangelization” action, an integral project started in 2000 by Chiara and the Fon (King) of Fontem, who was the first one to take the commitment, in front of his people, to living the spirit of love and unity that comes from the Gospel. It’s the Fon himself who later on got the other chiefs and noblemen involved.

Last Saturday’s event at Shisong started with the Time Out for peace, and continued with the ‘Jubilee celebration prayer’, asking God to strengthen their Faith in Him, keeping in mind the ‘pioneers’ of this adventure (Chiara Lubich, Bishop Julius Peeters and the Fon Defang); to know how to start again with humility to love every neighbour, to walk towards universal fraternity, to increase the fire of charity in every community, in order to be apostles of Jesus’ Testament “That all may be one” (Jn 17,21).   Two of the first focolarini who gave so much of themselves in Africa, Bruna Tomasi and Lucio Dal Soglio, were present through their messages. The reading of their letters and those of others among the protagonists of the beginnings of the focolare (Rosa Calò, Rita Azarian) introduced the documentary: “Focolare, 50 years in Africa”, retracing this journey, interwoven with the experience of Piero Pasolini and Marilen Holzhauser.  For the occasion, a special issue of the African edition of New City was entirely dedicated to cover this topic.   Since the beginning, the Word of God was not merely an object of contemplation, but was instead immediately translated into real choices, in daily life. When the different communities were born, that special atmosphere of family was experienced, a spirit in which it was possible to share even one’s needs.

Then many actions were initiated in the continent, including social programmes, schools, and health centres: from the College in Fontem, to nursery schools, primary schools and tuitions programs in Cameroon, Nigeria, Tanzania, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Kenya; a hospital in Fontem, medical centres in Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo and Ivory Coast; actions against malnutrition; carpentry workshops for the youth in South Africa, Cameroon, Ivory Coast and Kenya; an agricultural project in Nigeria.   From the beginning of the ’70s, many African youth discovered “Chiara’s way” and therefore a new lifestyle. Like her, Anne Nyimi Pemba (Congo) and Venant Mbonimpaye (Burundi) left everything to follow Jesus, embarking themselves on this new way of consecrated life in Africa.  They were among the first ones, like Teresina Tumhiriwe, from Uganda, Benedict Menjo and Dominic Nyuyilim from Cameroon. Dominic was present at the Shisong celebration, sharing his own experience. Many have followed them in their footsteps.

Mafua Christina, Queen of the Bangwa, and Prof. Martin Nkafu, born in Fontem and lecturer of Philosophy and traditional cultures at the Pontifical Lateran University, were also present. They shared their personal experiences, followed with a array by the new generations – children, teenagers and youth– that showed how much today’s experience is in continuity with the Ideal of brotherhood that took roots 50 years ago.

“A people born from the Gospel, capable of witnessing of being family beyond their belonging to different tribes, ethnic groups and peoples,” Maria Voce wrote in her message, with the wish of restarting together from this milestone –that will last for the whole year, with a celebration in Kenya at the Mariapolis Piero on the 19th May, during the Pan-African congress of the Volunteers of God, and other events in various African countries.

(500)Rules

Geneviève

Tuesday, April 9, 2013 at 19:04

Je viens de “tomber” sur cet article et ces photos, que de souvenirs ! J’ai été infirmière à Fontem de 1976 à 1978, j’habitais à la maison Gen, ça m’a fait réellement plaisir de revoir des photos avec Marilen et Lucio et de reconnaître certaines focolarines… Fontem a dû changer énormément depuis cette époque !

    djoumessi severin

    Monday, September 9, 2013 at 21:35

    mon emotion est au comble quand je retombe sur ces photos du MARIAPOLI CENTER de fontem ou j ai ete a mon tout premier GEN FEST entre 1992 et 1995 a un mois de mars. par la suit des week en de formations au mariapolis ou encore les rencontre de formations toujours a fontem avec des responsable tels Dr alain DAVET, m. STEPHAN, MR PIUS et bien d autres encore que j ai plus jamais eu des nouvelles.
    vraiment je souhaiterai re integrer le mouvement dans ma ville actuelle DOUALA au CAMEROUN.

Jane Frances

Thursday, February 21, 2013 at 13:10

Direttamente da Fontem:
La data del 9 febbraio non e’ stata scelta a caso….ma si voleva rivivere, almeno idealmente, la stessa data di arrivo dei primi…pionieri dell’unità in terra d’Africa! E non era neanche una coincidenza che proprio quel giorno ricorreva l’anniversario di Stephen Lukong, figlio di questa terra, che ci ha lasciato nel 2004.

Shisong si e’ presentata, a chi di noi la vedeva per la prima volta, immersa nel sole del tramonto ed i raggi rossi e gialli del sole la facevano splendere come una corona luminosa!!! Se a quei pionieri ci sono voluti 3 giorni per arrivarci, fortunati noi di Fontem che abbiamo impiegato solo 10 ore di macchina.
Con alcuni siamo arrivati qualche giorno prima della celebrazione e si e’ lavorato sodo per accogliere le diverse centinaia di invitati e di membri del Movimento dei Focolari che sarebbero
arrivati!!!! Anche la gente del posto si è messa a piena disposizione, basta pensare che il sindaco ha accolto tante persone a casa sua, non solo per dormire, ma ha anche preparato per loro una cena squisita.
Finalmente il giorno tanto atteso e’ arrivato, aperto con una messa di ringraziamento a Dio nella Chiesa parrocchiale del Sacro Cuore in Shisong…Una chiesa ancora adornata dal regalo fatto da Nicasio, (uno dei primi focolarini): una Madonna con la corona di 12 stelle, e ora custodita dai Padri Cappuccini.

Il clima era solenne ed il sacro si rendeva palpabile in tutti gli atti della celebrazione eucaristica… presieduta dall’arcivescovo di Bamenda e dagli altri 3 vescovi presenti, insieme ad una ventina di sacerdoti e religiosi.
L’arcivescovo Cornelius Fontem Esua di Bamenda ha ripercorso la storia della venuta e della diffusione del
carisma dell’unita’ in terra d’Africa, e per sottolinearne l’attualità ha citato ampi stralci dell’intervento della Presidente Maria Voce al recente Sinodo dei vescovi sulla Nuova Evangelizzazione, il tutto in un clima di profondo ascolto, ed attenzione. Trascinante l’animazione della liturgia curata dal coro parrocchiale di Shisong. Tutto si muoveva armoniosamente….e le danze Bangwa contribuivano a dare alla celebrazione un tono di composta gioia ed esprimevano il grazie e la felicità del dono che Dio anche oggi aveva rinnovato!
Nella sala,poi, la festa e’ continuata con testimonianze e rievocazioni attraverso filmati ed esperienze dei primi focolarini, frutti che questa terra ha dato a Dio attraverso il carisma dell’unita’.
Si e’ anche guardato in avanti: i giovani in prima linea, hanno animato l’incontro con i loro canti, ci hanno invitati tutti a riprendere il Time Out ed hanno coinvolti la sala nel Progetto: “ Let’s Bridge.” S’é lanciata poi la nuova edizione di New City Africa, preparata per il 50° anniversario, invitando tutti a dare il proprio contributo alla nuova edizione in inglese che continuerà ad andare in stampa con le prossime edizioni. Nel cuore di tutti e nelle loro impressioni si sentiva un ringraziamento a Chiara la protagonista principale di questa divina avventura.

soni enage sapnit

Sunday, February 17, 2013 at 05:19

It is so exciting to read about the history of how the Ideal started in Africa 50 years Ago. My daughter Maria Elena was born March 24,1986, nickname ” MARILEN”. Yes ,she was named after Marilen Holzhauser who died days prior to my daughters birth. When my daughter was small age 5-7, she had similar traits with the Focolina Marilen H., confirmed by a Filipina focolarina Maricor who knew Marilen H. well. Thus in 2007, we met Anna Paula in Rome. She is a nurse of Chiara and knew Marilen H. well. After the meeting she gave us Marilen’s H. book about her life. Today Marilen Holzhauser (in heaven) continues to guide my daughter Marilen…in everything she does. As a gen, in the Philippines,member of the genfest 2012 band Budapest, part of the family of Chiara. Grazie Dio, Grazie Chiara, Grazie Marilen!