Print

Péréré3The poor condition of roads made it impossible for me to get to the 3rd mass on time. Hence, I was late for 30min in spite of the four wheel drive car. At a point, I had to leave the car on the way and call for a motorbike to take me to the village. On arrival at the village, Christians were patiently waiting while having entertainment.

Faithful to the tradition of the missionary commitment of the Society of African Missions (SMA), to areas of primary evangelization, SMA missionaries continue to witness to the joy of the Gospel in the parish of the Conversion of St Paul, Pèrèrè in northern Bénin Republic, 388 kilometers from Cotonou, the commercial capital of the country.

Like most villages in the north of Benin, majority of the population in our parish community are believers of traditional faiths and Islam. The dominant language is Bariba and most people engage in subsistence farming and trade. 

It is in this historical, socio-cultural and religious context that evolves slowly but steadily that SMA missionary activity to the most abandoned takes place.

With the collaboration of catechists, and the Albertine sisters we reach out to villages that are often happy to welcome us, Muslims, traditional worshipers alike.

Our Parish Community is subdivided into zones for easy administration. The zones are; Pèrèrè, Suya, Kpané and Kpebié. Each zone takes charge to organize where Christians from the various villages gather for either Christmas or Easter celebrations.Péréré2

It is important to say it is always great joy to see how Christians are proud of their faith, in spite of their small numbers. They rise early in the morning and meet at their village chapels to dedicate their daily activities to God and assemble again in the evening to thank God for the day. Our Christian communities are also committed to celebrating the major feasts of the Church such as Christmas, Easter, Patron Saints … they joyfully take part in pilgrimages too.

This year’s Christmas celebration brought together Pèrèrè center, Ourarou, Darukpara, Kpiré and Won. They were the hosting neighboring villages. There were four masses for Christmas Vigil, with each priest presiding over two of the four Masses. Five Masses were celebrated on Christmas day. I presided the Masses at Pèrèrè center, Ourarou and Kpiré. The Parish Priest Fr. Vijay Bhaskar presided those in Won and Darukpara.

On the night of 24th of December, Mass was celebrated at 8pm in the first village, and at 10.30pm in the second village. Though worn out by the poor state of the roads to the villages, I was energized by the joyful faces of the community members who were present to celebrate the birth of Jesus. The evening continued at the parish rectory with a short celebration with food and drinks with the community of Albertine Sisters.

Péréré1On Christmas day, I presided the Eucharistic celebrations at the parish at 7:30 am. After which I headed to Ourarou for the 9:30am mass then finished with Mass at Kpiré at 11:30am. The poor condition of roads made it impossible for me to get to the 3rd mass on time. Hence, I was late for 30min in spite of the four wheel drive car. At a point, I had to leave the car on the way and call for a motorbike to take me to the village. On arrival at the village, Christians were patiently waiting while having entertainment. Since the village chapel was too small to accommodate four villages, a simple structure was erected outside the chapel. It was covered with palms leaves to provide some shade for those who were under it. The public address system was so performing that not only those present at Mass could follow but also those around the village.

Even after spending the whole night dancing and singing songs of Christmas, the Christians did not seem tired as they continued dancing during mass too. I baptized babies in the villages to mark this important feast of the coming of our Savior.

Eucharistic celebration that provided spiritual nourishment was followed by food for our bodies. Different kinds of delicacies that had been prepared overnight were shared among all those present, including non-Christians who joined us to celebrate. After the nice banquet, I began my journey back to the parish house.

This was how joyful our Christmas celebration was. We have been mandated by Christ to go forth and proclaim the Good News and we are fortunate to fulfill this noble task with grateful hearts, praying with faith that the coming of Christ will bring us joy, lasting peace and more so communion with our brothers and sisters.

Happy and blessed year 2020

                                                                                                            Fr David Obara sma