18 May 2019

Dear brothers and sisters of the Salesian Family in the world,

I write to you to share sad news and to invite you again to put your life and your mission in the hands of the One in whom the full meaning of every event resides: the God of Love and His Son Jesus Christ, the Risen Lord.

I was coming to Brazzaville (Republic of the Congo) for the visit to this new Vice Province when the Provincial of the Western French-speaking Africa Province (AFO) informed me that, a few minutes before, the missionary confrere Fr Fernando Hernández was cruelly murdered and that Fr Germain Plakoo-Mlapa was seriously injured and is now in the hospital. Fr Germain Plakoo-Mlapa was at the side of Fr César Antonio Fernández, who was assassinated just three months ago.

The reason for this tragedy is related to an act of revenge. In fact, it seems that the old chef of the community, who was fired about a year ago, entered the refectory of the confreres during lunch time and enacted his vendetta with a machete.

In three months, two missionary confreres have lost their lives in this Province. We pray intensely for the healing of Father Germain and also for the wounds that will remain imprinted in his soul, since it must be terrible to endure all that he has lived during this time.

Dear brothers and sisters of our dear Salesian Family, I share with you all the sorrow that the confreres share with their families and to ask you to remember them in prayer at such a dramatic moment.

We are living through the time of Easter and at this moment I can only hold on and anchor myself in faith to the Lord, keep silent and pray that He may transform the blood of these martyrs, cruelly and innocently shed, to life and good for the African people and for all peoples.

Our two confreres, Fr César Antonio and Fr Fernando, lived profoundly loving the African people, the young Africans and their families, always seeking their good in the name of the Lord.

Our prayer today should be an intercession for them, an intense prayer for Father Germain and a request for forgiveness for their assassins, as the Lord has done.

Our Mother Help of Christians takes us by the hand and leads us before God the Father. She accompanies us and takes care of all of us, sons and daughters, on this earth.

With these words, I intend to express our condolences and our closeness to Fr José Elegbede and the confreres of the AFO Province, much tried by these tragic events.


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