Angola: Parish Mission in Lobito

Although the Vice Province of Luanda (Angola) has a small number of Confreres and no team for parish missions, it had begun offering parish missions since the year 2000 to local churches. Each year, Angola’s Redemptorists make a popular mission, answering requests from various parts of our country. The Secretariat of Evangelization and Spirituality co-ordinates this: responds to requests, makes preliminary contacts on the ground, and accompanies the first phase of the mission. Everything is done in close collaboration with the parish priest and different committees of the parish. Next, comes the second phase, very important in the mission process: a month of prayer and evangelization from house to house animated by the leaders identified in the locality. For the third phase, that of missionary preaching (7 to 10 days), missionaries come; Redemptorist priests and lay missionaries. In addition to them, there are also priests of the local parishes to help out in the mission.

From 4 to 11 June 2017, the third phase of the popular mission took place in the parish of the Holy Trinity, in the port city of Lobito (the most important port in the country), in the area of Compão and its surroundings. The population of the area is 8,500 inhabitants, of which approx. 7,400 are Catholics. The 53 parish sectors were grouped into 9 communities, each of which experienced this phase of intense evangelization and celebration with the presence of missionaries.

We were 10 Redemptorists, 4 diocesan Priests, 3 Oblate Sisters of the Most Holy Redeemer (they took the initiative for this parish mission), 3 Sistine Sisters and 2 sisters of St. Catherine of Sienna (indigenous congregation); the nuns are engaged pastorally in the parish. In addition, there were two secular lay Vincentian laymen and two lay Redemptorist missionaries.

The most touching moment was the procession with candles on Friday night from the 9 communities, that came to the parish hall; an experience that usually overwhelms people. There was also a moving sermon (on the “light of the world” theme) and the day’s programme ended with the consecration to Our Mother of Perpetual Help. Another touching moment was the “procession” of the boats, with the image of Mary, through the sea shore on Saturday morning. A part of the population of the fishing zone, and the fishermen who took part were much moved: it was a first-time pastoral activity that involved them directly; they felt particularly blessed. The Closing Eucharist of the mission was on Sunday 11th  (Solemnity of the Holy Trinity, parish patron) and was presided over by the diocesan bishop, during which he gave 111 young people and adults the sacrament of confirmation. On Saturday, the Bishop attended the General Evaluation Meeting of the Mission with missionaries and sector coordinators (around 120 people).

Fr. Albino Segunda, the pastor, said of the mission: “It was a new and challenging experience. But not complicated; It was feasible and engaging. It has brought a new wisdom that provokes us. It made us go to the “distant”, and they felt challenged. It was a great opportunity to bear witness to one’s faith and to impart faith in others. The first two phases were essential to break walls and barriers, by meeting others. The third stage, celebratory, left a mark in hearts and communities.

The whole mission made people feel more involved in the ecclesial life. The next step – of community consolidation – is a great challenge. We must also rethink some of the dynamics and structures of the pastoral care for Youth. “

(João Pedro Fernandes, CSsR)