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A Church for the Shrine of Our Lady in Savoigne in Senegal
The parish does not have a "proper" church, but only a multipurpose hall, built in the 1970s and where Mass is also celebrated. Will you help build a church for Our Lady?
Senegal is an overwhelmingly Muslim West African country with a population of some 12 million people; roughly 90% are followers of Islam. For their part, Christians, most of whom are Catholic, make up only 5% of the total population.
The Parish of Savoigne lies in the
northwest of the country, in the region close to the frontier with Mauritania.
It is the only Catholic parish within a radius of 60 miles. The parish has a
total of some 375 Catholics, yet also draws in many other believers from further
away, since this is also the church where an 18th-century statue of Our Lady,
Health of the Sick, is kept and revered.
From year to year, the number of pilgrims has grown, and the number of answered prayers is also growing steadily. Father Zanaboni, who belongs to the congregation of the Merciful Brothers of St. John of God and who has been working as a missionary in Africa since 1982, reports: "The women are welcomed; they are listened to, they are supported – and they return home again quite transformed."
Unfortunately, the parish does not even have a "proper" church, but only a multipurpose hall, built in the 1970s, where Holy Mass is also celebrated. The building is not suitable for the needs of the parish itself, since the acoustics are very poor and it is hard to even follow the Mass. When he gives his homily, Father Zanaboni has to stand in the middle of the hall and shout in order to be heard properly.
During the rainy season, the water trickles through the roof and the celebration of the liturgy is sometimes disturbed when people in the congregation try to avoid the dripping water and find a dry place to stand. And now, with the additional influx of the pilgrims, the building has also become simply too small. "The local people generously give up their places to the pilgrims," Father Zanaboni tells us.
Given this situation, there is an
urgent need for a proper church. The local parishioners have already tried many
initiatives to raise the necessary funds. They launched a campaign whereby
everyone would try to contribute two bags of cement; and they have also tried
other fundraising events, such as one on the anniversary of the consecration of
the church and on other occasions. But the people are poor and even with the
best will in the world, they will never be able to raise the necessary funds by
their own unaided efforts.
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