Hello from the Democratic Republic of the Congo! We are praying very hard since the Congo is holding national elections tomorrow, November 28.
On November 20 we had a great Christ the King celebration in my parish, where we are starting to build a church. There was a long carnival that took us through all the streets of our neighborhood. People really enjoyed it. They said that it was the first time a priest walked with his parishioners.
The bad thing about our celebration is that we did not have enough food, so I decided to feed only the little ones. People were not happy about that. Despite that they accompanied me back in the evening with huge ovation of songs and shouting. The streets were closed when they brought me back home.
My parishioners also requested a youth Christmas celebration. I may have to cancel it because it would cost us $150 to purchase rice and meat, but I am not able to afford that.
A few weeks ago I buried a woman whose husband died recently of HIV/AIDS. It was a shocking funeral, because the parents left seven orphans of whom one is pregnant at the age 15. I never believed that a girl could get pregnant that young because she looks like she is still eight. The face of the youngest made me cry. She is maybe one and half years old. You could read confusion on her face.
I was so saddened by the children’s situation. They are really destitute now. With $500 I could fix their house and send the oldest to school. I thought that I had been raised in a hard situation, but I was very well cared for, better than many.
I still teach English at the high school and at the university. The high school kids try to speak a bit of it now. The university students disappoint me. They do not make an effort to speak.
Advent and the new liturgical year began on Sunday with a long Mass. Unfortunately I forgot that we do not sing the Gloria in Advent. Twice I invited the people to sing it with me. Luckily they were very alert and reminded me by not singing the Gloria. We all laughed and the Mass went on. This is a sign that I am a brand new priest.
Here in the Diocese of Tshumbe I serve as secretary of Bishop Nicolas Djomo. The priests of my diocese asked me to preach the annual retreat (December 4 to December 10). Please, pray for me!