Books for the Formation of Vocations to a Carmelite Monastery in the Central African Republic
Project Code: 142-06-79
Father Anastasio Roggero is a living legend. This 76-year-old priest from the Ligurian province of the Discalced Carmelites is not, strictly speaking, a missionary, since he does not work constantly in Africa. Nonetheless, his heart is very much in the Central African Republic, and almost everybody knows him there. He is one of the pioneers of the Carmelite mission in the Central African Republic, founded 40 years ago, and he is also the founder of the Carmelite monastery in Bangui. He had dreamt of this for years, but it was only in 2006 that the dream became reality and, in addition to the four Carmelite mission stations already in the country, a Carmelite monastery was established in the capital.
In the center of the monastery grounds, which are close to the airport, there is a hill. On the rock face on the side of this slope, the word "Carmel" is inscribed in 40-foot-high letters which can be seen from a plane. And when Father Anastasio comes to visit his confreres, you can hear the excited screams of innumerable children shouting "Ciao" – the only Italian word they know. For them, he is simply "Father Ciao." The adults, too, are joyful when he comes.
Amidst the rejoicing, the Carmelite monastery in Bangui has not remained untouched by war. Since December 2012, the grounds have been a refugee camp. "Just imagine around 10,000 people having a sort of picnic in your garden for months on end – several tons of garbage have been the inevitable result, and the grass is already only a memory," says Father Federico Trinchero, who was the Prior here when the refugees began to arrive in the thousands. But even though babies have been born in the chapel and in the chapter room and everyday life has in many respects been turned upside down, the life of the monastery still goes on.
Thankfully, in many ways the monastery is flourishing. There have been many local vocations, so that by now there are 12 young men in the monastery already preparing to take their permanent vows. And more young men have also joined who are currently still undergoing training. So it was that at Easter 2014 a group of 10 young aspirants were accepted into the monastery. This is of course a joy and a blessing of God for the community, yet at the same time it is a challenge. For where are these young religious to live in a monastery already overflowing with refugees?
The monks are not lacking in resourcefulness, and have simply set up a dormitory in the refectory. But these young aspirants still need proper training. "We are not letting ourselves be discouraged," writes Father Federico. "We are happy that we are able to be here and to serve the Church and the people in this country. And above all, we do not want the tragic events that are still continuing to shake the country to prevent our young brothers from undergoing their theological and philosophical formation as serenely and worthily as possible."
These young religious, who are currently undergoing their training today, are the ones who in future will help their people to live in peace. And to aid them in their studies, Father Federico has asked ACN for help to increase the stock of books in the monastery library. We have promised him $6,900.
Will you give to provide books for this monastery in the Central African Republic, a monastery that is flourishing in such a challenging situation? We are sure the monks will remember you in their grateful prayers.
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