|Democratic Republic of the Congo –“Thanksgiving” Day|
|Democratic Republic of the Congo – Youth and the Salesian Family|
(ANS – Lubumbashi) – The fourth day of the journey of the Rector Major in the Province of Central Africa (AFC) Saturday 30 April was spent in the Kafubu valley, a journey recalling the memory of origins of the Salesian presence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The day began with a meeting with Bishop Gaston Kashala Ruwezi SDB of Sakania-Kipushi, at Kafubu, 15 km from Lubumbashi. Fr Chávez and those with him were met by pupils from the schools in Ima-Kafubu and Kwesu, the second belonging to the FMA.
After visiting the Cathedral, which had been the see of other Salesian bishops before Bishop Ruwezi – Bishop Joseph Sak, Bishop René van Heusden and Bishop Pierre François Lehaen – the Rector Major, standing on a chair, spoke to the students encouraging them to take the lead in their own lives and it that of their country.
Bishop Ruwezi took the Rector Major to the cemetery where the first Salesian missionaries are buried. On the way the pupils from the FMA primary school of Shibukeni, performed a local dance. After praying at the tomb of the Salesians, Fr Chávez placed a bunch of flowers in recognition of the work of evangelisation and education begun by the pioneers. Remembered in particular was Fr Francesco Scaloni (1861–1926) who as Provincial of Belgium promoted the presence of the Salesians in the Congo sending the first six missionaries.
The next stop was at the FMA novitiate at Kwesu; after giving a short talk on religious life, the Rector Major gave the novices a medal of Don Bosco. Then it was the turn of the Salesian novitiate and post-novitiate at Kansebula. Speaking to the young religious, the Rector Major emphasised that acquiring a Salesian identity is a long process which requires a formation which is constant, profound and permanent, “we are not born Salesians, we become so day by day.”
In the afternoon the Rector Major and his companions returned to Kafubu, where Bishop Ruwezi took them to the diocesan Offices and to the Ima-Kafubu school. Fr Gaston Kibilo, Vicar General of the diocese of Sakania-Kipushi, thanked Fr Chávez, for the work of the Salesians over many years for the evangelisation and the education of the young people of the Congo.