Benin – SMA reaffirms its commitment

BENIN – Jubilee Year of missionary activity to celebrate 150th anniversary of evangelization in Benin

Rome (Agenzia Fides) – Celebrations have begun for the 150th anniversary of the evangelization of Benin, with a Mass celebrated Sunday, April 18 in Agoue. “Agoue was one of the first places reached by the Fathers of the Society of African Missions,” Fr. Jean-Marie Guillaume, Vicar General of the SMA, told Fides. The SMA Missionaries began the evangelization of the country between 1860 and 1861.
The celebrations for the 150th anniversary of evangelization will be completed next year, on August 21, 2011, with a Marian pilgrimage to Dassa-Zoume. The theme of the jubilee year is “Christian, Witness to Your Hope.”
“The local bishops have decided to hold a year of celebrations to understand the importance of the event, to ensure that the Church of Benin will take charge of its development and will increasingly become a missionary Church,” says Fr. Guillaime. “Already today – continues the Vicar General of the SMA – there are missionaries from Benin in Morocco, where there is a large community of students from French-speaking West Africa. Moreover, the local bishops are promoting the movement of priests from the south to the north of Benin, where environmental conditions are more difficult.”
The Mass that marked the start of the Year celebration was presided over by Bishop Antoine Ganyé of Dassa-Zoume, President of the Benin Bishops’ Conference, and was concelebrated by the Bishops of Benin and Togo.
“During Mass, four Beninese deacons of SMA were ordained. Thus, in this way the SMA wished to reaffirm its commitment to support the local Catholic community and the mission,” concludes Fr. Guillaime. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 21/4/2010)