Close Encounter of a Scary Kind

Ferocious wild animals in the Congo are difficult to get to see. Occasionally, someone keeps a monkey as a pet instead of for the pot and you might see a snake now and then, but, apart from that, the jungle keeps its inhabitants very well hidden. Yesterday, though, I came a step closer to brushing with the wild. The sky began to darken around 6 pm; the trees teamed with bright yellow weaver-birds, chattering and squealing and carrying endless streamers of grass and palm-leaf to build up their nests. Darkness descended swiftly, leaving ragged banana trees and oil-kernel palms silhouetted against the clear royal-blue sky, with vivid twinkling constellations scattered like sequins on a velvet cloth. People in Basankusu settled down to cook and eat their evening meal, the glow of charcoal burners and the smell of various foods filled the air.

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Meditating on Mission in Pluscarden Peace

The “Democratic Republic of Congo” is a far cry from Scotland’s Morayshire Vale of St Andrew – especially when the DRC’s hot and humid rain forest is remembered in a freezing winter at Pluscarden Abbey. But more striking than that is the contrast of atmosphere. Pluscarden is renowned deservedly for its Peace; the DRC, deservedly, is not! I am anxious to get back to my beloved troubled Congo. But I am revelling in the Benedictine Pax here; “In loco isto dabo pacem (In this place I will give Peace)” …. and I will get the monks’ powerful prayers for the DRC into the bargain too. In this Peace I am still grateful for the Mission I have been privileged to be sent on. I was encouraged here in Pluscarden many years ago to respond to that “foreign missionary” call, and have been supported ever since. What we have in common, in a contemplative life in northern Scotland or in an active ministry in ‘the Heart of Darkest Africa’, is that basic truth: ‘Nil carius Christo’ - Christ and His Love is more important than anything else.

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Last Minute Attempt by Catholic Bishops to Avoid the Worst in DR Congo

KINSHASA DECEMBER 9, 2016 (CISA) – The National Episcopal Conference of the Democratic Republic of Congo (CENCO) on Dec 8, hosted a last-minute reconciliation talks to avert crisis as President Joseph Kabila’s second term comes to an end on December 19. Speaking during the negotiations, Archbishop Marcel Utembi, the president of CENCO and archbishop of Kisangani, told 30 Congolese politicians that their mission is to forge “a larger consensus around the electoral process,” reported Africanews. At the heart of the talks is the precise date when the General Elections should be held, as well as President Joseph Kabila’s fate, once his term expires on December 19th. Elections slated for November 2016 were not organized, and in October President Kabila’s political alliance, struck an agreement with an opposition faction that permits the president to stay in office until polls can be held. The General Elections have been provisionally scheduled for April 2018. However, most opposition parties, most notably a large coalition called the Rassemblement, has rejected this arrangement and want President Kabila to step down as scheduled. “Together we must find a solution to Congo’s problems among which the most important remain respecting the constitution, in other words a democratic handover of power,” Olivier Kamitatu, a senior Rassemblement official said during the meeting. Valentin Mubake, head of the opposition’s delegation to the talks said: “We are here because we are not discouraged. Many of us have skeptical faces, and we’re going to tell them that the constitution must apply. We can’t just change a country’s constitution; we apply it, that’s all.” “If the talks fail, it is because we won’t have reached consensus. So we will just go ahead and enforce what’s in the constitution. There will be possible agitations here and there but we have seen this before, it’s nothing new and we will manage it as we always have,” said Lambert Mendé, the spokesman of the presidential majority’s delegation

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How to catch a plane in DR Congo

Francis Hannaway, Mill Hill Lay Associate, travelled with Fr Stan Bondoko MHM on the river from Basankusu, where they work, to Mbandaka, to fly to Kinshasa, capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo. The increasing decline of the country’s infrastructure has led to this being the only way to travel to the capital city. Things did not go according to plan.

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A Message from the Rainforest

Greetings from Basankusu, DR Congo. I got here on Friday. After a very trying boat journey from Mbandaka! The first of its nature I ever had. I was able to stop on the way at Mampoko and Bokakata. Yesterday went to Waka and today. The people have been very welcoming and I was well received by our members. The Bishop too. Will write an article some time. On Sunday Mass was held in which we commemorated 150 years of MHM. The Mass was presided over by Bishop Joseph Mokobe and attended by priests, religious and many faithfull. the choir was very poweful and the Congolese litturgy very alive and thourougly enjoyable. Stan Bondokos band played the instruments. Later a reception was held.

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New Cathedral Basankusu, DR Congo

Slowly, but surely a new cathedral arises in the rainforest town of Basankusu, DR Congo, on the spot where once the majestic yellow brick building stood, erected by the early Mill Hill missionaries. Mill Hill associate Francis Hannaway sent this photographic impression of a work in progress.

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