|Angola – The Casket of Don Bosco at Luena|
|Angola – Press Statement by the Diocese of Lwena|
(ANS – Lwena) – On Sunday 8 July the Nuncio Apostolic of São Tomé e Príncipe, Archbishop Novatus Rugambwa, with some Bishops from Angola, presided at the celebration for the re-opening of the Cathedral of the diocese of Lwena, in the city of Lwena and the Province of Moxico. This is a sign of hope for a diocese deeply scarred by the civil war, and for the last four years entrusted to the care of a Salesian Bishop.
Taking part in the celebration attended by many of the faithful and by some Government authorities, and lasting several hours were the Archbishop of Saurimo, Mons. José Manuel Imbamba, the Bishop of Mbanza Congo, Mons. Vicente Carlos Kiaziku O.F.M. Cap. and the retired Bishops Mons. Zacarias Kamuenho and Mons. Chingo ia Hombo.
Following work of reconstruction and restoration the inauguration of the Cathedral was a sign of rebirth and of peace for a Church deeply committed to the construction of “the earthly city.”
During the 34 years of war in Angola (from 1968, when the armed struggle for independence began until 2002, when peace was signed) the deterioration of the structures at all levels – of the people and of the Church - was incalculable.
The diocese of Lwena, which covers 233.000 km², experienced persecution and violence. Many Christian communities which for years – some for decades – did not have or even see a priest or missionary were kept alive, even though totally isolated by the war thanks to the courage and to the convinced witness of countless lay catechists. These were the backbone and the blood stream in the animation and formation of the local Christian communities as they kept the faith alive in many areas. Some were genuine martyrs.
When peace came in 2002, and the leader of the armed opposition Jonas Savimbi was killed at Moxico and buried in fact in the Lwena cemetery, the local Church began a process of reconstruction throughout society and the church itself.
Bishop Tirso Blanco SDB Bishop of Lwena from March 2008, pursued some strategies of reconstruction with the establishment of a diocesan pre-seminary, the gradual re-establishment of the old churches and missions (which had been the fruits of the long missionary labours mainly of Portuguese Benedictines in the colonial era) and the return or the first arrival of many religious Congregations in the diocese.
At the end of the celebration, by means of a phone call, the Councillor for the Africa-Madagascar Region, and former Superior of Angola, Fr Guillermo Basanes congratulated Bishop Blanco, at one time a close collaborator in the “Mamá Muxima” Vice Province; and the Rector Major also spoke complimenting the Salesian Bishop for his efforts and for the work he undertakes in the diocese.
There has been a Salesian community in Lwena since 1982. At present the four Salesians there look after the parish, some scattered Christian communities in the countryside, an oratory-youth centre, an elementary and middle school and some literacy and vocational training centres.