Lukonzolwa is a village in the south-east of the Democratic Republic of Congo, almost 2,450 km from the capital, Kinshasa. With its mountains, its magnificent landscape decorated with multiple hills. This part of the south-east of the country has enormous natural resources: copper, gold, red mercury, cobalt, laterite, but paradoxically it remains poor.
After my first religious profession in Kinshasa in our beautiful chapel at La Gombe on 17 September 2021, a great day of the stigmata of Saint Francis of Assisi, I received my obedience for Lukonzolwa, which was my first mission.
When I arrived on mission, for the first three months I was a pharmacy attendant in our health centre, involved in youth ministry and youth chaplaincy at parish level, and then decanal chaplaincy at the level of the diocese of Kilwa-Kasenga. I was gradually integrated into the services that were entrusted to me, which I am still happy to provide.
We have 11 chapels that are outstations of our parish of Saint Antoine de Padoue, as well as various groups and movements in the parish, such as the Kiro, the junior legionaries, the scouts and a new French youth choir. All the young people meet every Thursday at the C.E.V. where we share the Word of God, with a chosen theme, and we invite a speaker, either a priest or a doctor, to preach or talk to the young people.
With enthusiasm, I embarked on evangelisation, criss-crossing the villages several kilometres apart, by motorbike or canoe to the various chapels with the OFM brothers for pastoral work, as well as during special occasions: Christmas for young people, Easter for young people, Pentecost for young people and other activities… These are great experiences with young people, but sometimes strong and also dangerous, as Blessed Mary of the Passion tells us: “For the mission and its risks, she wanted us to be disponible and strong in the faith”.
Today, the mission is improving, thanks to the mix of residents. We are continuing and emphasising awareness-raising through different teaching methods, including the education of young girls.
However, in our country, the education of young girls and child marriages are a major challenge. We find a girl of 15 or 16 with a baby, her husband gone and her studies in jeopardy. This is a very common problem. As we go along, we gain the trust of the young people, which is an openness on their part and a willingness to make a change in their daily lives.
We organise various meetings and recollections, accompanying them on their journey to educate and awaken their consciences. In this way, we continue to bear witness to the FMM charism by living out our ‘raison d’être’ and being a humanising presence to all.