Bosco Mill who hails from Basankusu (DR Congo). For many years he has been active in mobilising and animating the Congolese Catholic community in San Antonio, Texas. He sent this text and videao in reaction to Emmanuel Nuh Mbeh’s posting yesterday.
The Congolese Apostolate USA held its first ever National Retreat on September 2nd and September 3rd in San Antonio, Texas. It was my initiative to bring people together for a weekend of prayer. After months of preparation, mother nature had its own plans: hurricane Harvey swept through Houston, the floods made it impossible for the Congolese from Houston to get out of the city. We were spared of any flood in San Antonio but many people got scared to travel to Texas. In addition, just two days before the event, as a secondary effect of the hurricane we ran out of gasoline in San Antonio and Dallas (most of Texas oil refineries are located in Houston area), forcing people to sit at gas stations for hours to fill up their cars. By the grace of God, we made it happen, there were people who drove all the way from Champaign Illinois to join us at the retreat. This was, by far, the most well organized Congolese religious event I ever witnessed.
The theme of our retreat was: “…May They Be One”, John 17,21. We focused on UNITY. Father Clay Mamvemba, a former Director of Liturgical services for Cardinal Monsengo and currently working on his PHD in Philosophy in Quebec City/Canada came to talk to us about Unity in Scriptures and he also examined the celebration of the Eucharist as a source of Christian Unity. Dr. Valentin Ekiaka, Professor at the Mexican American Catholic College, helped us understand different types of parishes in America and how to get united with our local Church. He emphasized cultural integration and competency. Mr. Christophe of Dallas brought to our attention some of the causes of lack of unity within our communities, he also led us to charismatic prayer. The Blessed sacrament was available for adoration and we prayed rosary together. We had two Masses: on Saturday, we celebrated the Mass in the Zairian Rite as we are accustomed to back home, and the concluding Mass was on Sunday and open to all. Many non- Congolese came and joined us not to only for the Mass but also for the reception afterwards. We hope to make of such an uplifting spiritual gathering a tradition and an annual event.
Thanks for the support of the Archdiocese of San Antonio, of the Knights of Columbus and of our very own members of the Congolese Choir of San Antonio who spent time selling Chicken BBQ plates and “mikate” to fundraise for the event. We provided nice bags with our Retreat logo to all the participants. Each bag was stuffed with: a t-shirt, a rosary, a pen, a notebook, a badge, two booklets about the retreat info and songs for the two Masses we had. The Mexican American Catholic College was generous enough to provide us with free rooms, we provided sleeping accommodation and free meals to all.
Adviser of Congolese Catholics to USCCB (US Conference of Catholic Bishops)