Prior General makes Renewal Visit in Sierra Leone


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Sierra Leone, WEST AFRICA Fray Miguel Miró, the Prior General of the Augustinian Recollects, has been carrying out the renewal visit to the Recoletos communities in Sierra Leone since November 15. Accompanied by the President of the General Secretariat of Apostolates, Fray Raul Buhay, he will be present in Kamabai and Kamalo, the two municipalities belonging to the Diocese of Makeni where the Augustinian Recollects are doing pastoral works.

November 16, Saturday

On the day of his arrival, a Friday, the Prior General spent the night in Kamabai. The following day, Saturday, he traveled to Kamalo, where the opening Eucharist of the visit presided by Fray Raul Buhay and concelebrated by Fray Miguel Miró and the Augustinian Recollect missionaries, Frays Jose Prudencio Castillo Jr., Jess Marco Sanchez, and Kenneth Caligdong, took place. St. Paul’s Parish church was full. More than two hundred people came to accompany the Prior General. In his homily, Fray Buhay, a former missionary here, highlighted the importance of Nuestra Señora de la Salud (or, for the Sierra Leoneans, “Our Lady of Welbodi”) and of the need for sacrifice that evangelization entails for missionaries, and thanked the people of Sierra Leone for welcoming God’s Word.

At the end of the celebration, Father General thanked the companioning and care of the religious community. He also gave emphasis on three words: thank God for having celebrated the Eucharist together, request for help to the Virgin of Health, and joy for being Catholics. What followed was the rite of anointing of the sick administered by Frays Dennis and Kenneth. As a closing tribute, the Salve in Latin was sung and the medals of the Virgin were distributed to those present.

In the afternoon, the Prior General shared with the community. The day ended with the praying of the rosary in which about 70 people, mostly children, participated.

November 17, Sunday

The Prior General stayed in Kamalo where the parish administered by the Augustinian Recollects covers 38 chapels and 47 schools, and in which the missionaries also celebrate Masses during the week.

On Sunday morning, the Prior General’s renewal visit officially began. The official letter about the visit was read. Fray Miró explained the reason for a renewal visit and also his interest in seeing the life and mission project of the community. Being a Sunday, each one of the missionaries of the community left after breakfast to different areas to preside over the mass. Father General accompanied the Fray Kenneth Caligdong to the village of Laminaya. To arrive, the entourage had to cross two rivers and traveled through mountains. Upon arrival, the inhabitants of the village were happy to celebrate the holiday and for the visit of the Prior General who was amazed by the joy with which the people sang and the color of the festive dresses of women. More than 200 people attended the Eucharist with the Prior General. At the end of the Mass, a couple brought their newborn daughter to the altar for a blessing and a ceremony called ‘naming’ during which the baby receives her name and becomes a member of the community. The girl received the name of Michelle, the only one with this name in the whole parish. The family named this baby girl for Miguel Miró. Afterwards, the Prior General set out for the village of Kendiyaloko, almost an hour away. About one hundred and fifty people there made the celebration very lively with their songs. At the end of the Mass the young people rendered a song and dance number for the visitors.

November 18, Monday

On Monday, November 18, the Prior General attended a welcome and baptism celebration of the first Christians in the village of Morong, where the community received a property of about four hectares from a generous donor. It has already a small house, a cultivation area and a football field. A cottage thatched with coconut leaves was made for the celebration of baptism and the Eucharist. There were 47 catechumens, among them were elders and children, who received baptism administered by the Prior General. One of the baptized received the name of Miguel, in honor of the officiating minister.

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