17 April 2013 – 9th day of the XX SMA General Assembly
Meeting with San Egidio community
We continued our reflection on mission in today’s world.
Today was marked with a visit to the San Egidio community in Trastevere. Its aim was to listen to the witness from some of the San Egidio community who are involved with Africa, with a view that the SMA would establish some means of collaborating with them.
The San Egidio community, founded in Rome in 1968 by Andrea Ricardi, gathers Catholic clergy and laity together. It objectives are to pray, witness to the Gospel, show concern and help to the poor and engage in the service of peace.
Prayer is the fundamental work of the community. Meditating on the Word of God, the community members, sisters and brothers, engage in an authentic conversion which leads to a greater love for all. Prayer is the source of their communion and fraternity. During our visit we had time to pray with the community in the basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere with the intention of remembering the mission of the SMA.
Living and spreading the Word of God are one and the same. Spreading the Word necessitates concrete action: befriending the poor and at the service of peace.
San Egidio’s BRAVO Project (Birth Registration for All Versus Oblivion) seeks to ensure the civil registration of all children. They work to make civil authorities and people of good will aware of the consequences of the non-registration of children and the effects this can have on countries in terms of their stability and development, notably in Africa. Burkina Faso, Rwanda and Burundi have already benefitted from this project and which needs to extend to other countries. The SMA has also, for several years, been involved in a similar initiative among the Pygmy peoples of Central Africa.
Another aspect of San Egidio’s work relates to HIV/Aids. The community provides care and assistance to those with the infection or are affected by HIV, particularly women. They seek to reduce the maternal mortality rate and help bring about an HIV-free generation in Africa.
Particular attention is given to elderly people, especially those suffering as a result of the Rwanda genocide.
In the service of peace in the world, particularly in Africa, San Egidio was deeply involved in the peace process which came about in Mozambique with the signing of a peace accord on 4 October 1992, bringing an end to that civil war. They have also been involved in the conflicts in Algeria, Central African Republic and Guinea Conakry.
San Egidio works strongly to counteract an « Afro-pessimism » and seeks to present a positive image of the continent, convinced that Africa is the hope of the world and of the Church of the future. Certain SMA units already collaborate with San Egidio, for example the Italian Province.
SMA confreres are involved with San Egidio in their parishes in Africa, especially in the Ivory Coast.
We concluded our meeting with a time of prayer and a meal provided by the community to us.
– An edited translation by the SMA Communications Director from the original French text of Fr André N’koy Odimba