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Father Polycarp Désiré Guinimbele is a priest with the Society of African Missions since 2014. He is from the Central African Republic. While in Lyon, at the SMA Media Center, he shared with us his missionary experience in Niger (2014-2017) then in the Central African Republic where since October 2017, he was appointed secretary, bursar as well as the missionary vocation animator.

In Doutchi, Niger

My first missionary assignment was in Doutchi Niger where I arrived on October 24, 2014. I was welcomed by Father Maria Joseph Paramanandam, an Indian SMA confrere. Very quickly, we defined our missionary priorities, mainly focusing on primary evangelization. Several other responsibilities were entrusted to me such as catechesis, evangelization toward the sick, the youth, the children, Small Christian Communities, Legion of Mary, liturgy...

Our catechesis at Doutchi was essentially baptismal. It was basically the same in the whole country. Catechesis consists in awakening faith and accompanying the first steps of young converts. It is rooted in the recommendation of the Risen Christ to his disciples: Go!therefore andmake disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” This task of faith education was an integral part of my missionary activity.

My commitment to the service of evangelizing to the sick was to say the least, charitable. It was marked by special attention to the sick, the elderly or isolated, and the most abandoned. Not only did we provide them with spiritual accompaniment (mass, sacrament of the sick, various prayers), but we visited them frequently and, if necessary, we provided material assistance that could be in the form of food or medicine. This assistance was offered to all; Christians as well as non-Christians. This service was shared by all, priests, nuns and lay faithful.

In evoking the lay faithful, I think particularly of the legion of Mary a group of women devoted to the Virgin Mary and who, once a week, came together to pray and share the Word of God. Their involvement in the parish charity work was great, and their visibility was a real testimony to everyone. The legionaries of Mary regularly attended the meetings of the Basic Ecclesial Communities commonly known as Small Christian Communities (SCC). This was an avenue for prayer, sharing and reflection in which, twice a month, the faithful found themselves in the home of one of them to reflect on how to impact the Word of God, social life, Christian faith, culture, and solidarity among them. Between Charity and education of the youth, liturgy and evangelical witness, the Small Christian Community was positioned as the energy of parish life. They equipped the faithful, they thought through liturgy and charity and they animated catechesis...

In the small Christian communities (and the other movements that I accompanied), my role was that of an animator who listened, advised, and provoked initiative. This is what I think prompted Laurent Lompo, archbishop of Niamey, to entrust me, after two years, the responsibility of the parish as pastor after the parish priest was recalled to India. I was then able to appreciate the important role played by the Parish Pastoral Council (PPC) a body composed of representatives of the parish movements and who, with the parish priest, explored on the development of the parish. However, my transient passage (one year), did not allow me to undertake any major projects. I just managed the day-to-day life of the parish.

At the SMA District-in- Formation RCA

In October 2017, I was recalled to the Central African Republic to serve as secretary and bursar of the new Central Africa District-in-Formation (CADF). As secretary, my role consists in updating the current records, taking good care of documents in the archives, sending files of the members to the SMA General Council, managing the agenda of the Council and the superior of CADF, writing official documents and taking minutes of meetings of the Council or assemblies. I also take care of health insurance of CADF members.

As the CADF Bursar, I have the responsibility of managing and researching for funds. The task is difficult, given the difficult socio-economic and political situation that the Central African Republic is going through. At the moment, we are ensuring that all SMA structures in Central African Republic are functioning normally.

Apart from that, I provide punctual services to St. Peter Clever Center, SMA preparatory house of formation located in Bangui, and I also take care of the missionary and vocational animation. It is for this reason that I happen to frequent SMA parishes, to have some proximity with potential candidates for SMA.

Polycarpe Désiré Guinimbele, sma