FIDES, the News Agency for the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples has announced the appointment by the Holy Father of Rev Djalwana Laurent Lompo as Auxiliary Bishop of Niamey, and Titular Bishop of Buffada. The appointment was made on 26 January 2013.
The new bishop has broad pastoral and administrative experience. He will assist Archbishop Michel Cartatéguy SMA in the work of the Archdiocese which covers 200,000 sq kms. There is one other diocese in the country: Maradi, which covers the remaining 1 million sq kms of Niger, nearly all of it desert but with several towns. The Catholic population of the country is less than 20,000 in a total population of 6 million.
Rev. Djalwana Laurent Lompo was born on 1 January 1967 in Koulbou which is part of the parish of St Francis of Assisi in Makalondi, one of the towns in Niamey Archdiocese. He studied philosophy and theology in Burkina Faso, respectively, at the St Jean-Baptiste Major Seminary in Ouagadougou and then at St Peter Claver seminary in Bobo-Dioulasso. He obtained a Diploma in Education at the Institut de Formation des Educateurs du clergé in Paris. He was ordained a priest on 21 September 1997 and incardinated in the Archdiocese of Niamey.
From 1997-2000 he was Assistant pastor of St. Gabriel Parish in Niamey and Head of the Foyer Samuel for vocations. For the next two years he undertook studies in Spiritual accompaniment at the Institut de Formation des Educateurs du clergé in Paris, after which he returned to take charge of the Foyer Samuel for vocations. Since 2003 he has been Vicar General to the Archbishop.
Our picture shows Fr Fachtna O’Driscoll, the Irish Provincial Leader, with Archbishop Cartatéguy, on right.
The SMA founded the first Catholic Mission in Niger in 1931, when French SMA priests travelled there from their missions in Dahomey. In 1942, Father Francois Faroud SMA was appointed as the first Prefect Apostolic of Niamey. His territory also covered parts of Dahomey and Burkina Faso until the creation of separate Prefectures of Parakou and Fada N’Gourma . From 1948 until 2003 the pastoral care of Niger was the responsibility of the Redemptorist Congregation, with French SMA missionaries working throughout the country. In 2003, Msgr Guy Romano CSSR was succeeded as bishop by an SMA who was working in the diocese since 1979, Fr Michel Cartatéguy. In 2007, Niamey was raised to the level of an Archdiocese and a new diocese, Maradi, created in the country.
Since then the Church has had a slow steady growth though the Catholic population is only about 20,000 (i.e. less than a fifth of one percent). Despite this small number its role in Nigerien society is greatly appreciated by the entire population, especially for its education, health and social services.
Niger has suffered at both ends of climate change – in 2010 they experienced too little rain to bring the crops up; last year terrible floods wiped out crops in the countryside, as well as thousands of homes in Niamey and beyond. Read more about 2010 drought here. For news about the 2012 floods click here.