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IcofPriests, nuns, and about seventy laypeople and friends SMA met at the Bishop Paul Pellet Center for the inauguration of the said Center and the launch of the ICOF 2021 program (International Congregation for ongoing Formation) during the Eucharistic celebration. This event took place in the presence of some ecclesiastical authorities including Rev. Boniface ZIRI, Bishop of the Diocese of Abengourou, Fr. Rozario, SMA General Councilor, Fr. Narcisse Seka Ogou, SMA Provincial Superior of Côte d'Ivoire, and Sister Amelie Yapo, Provincial Superior of Our Lady of Apostles sisters in Côte d'Ivoire.

In his homily, Fr. Rozario emphasized the rupture that Abraham made, through a deep discernment of the will of God, with the cultural practices of his time, which consisted in the sacrifice of the firstborn. A break with traditional practices that takes on the appearance of rejuvenation. According to Fr. Rozario, there is a need to update oneself regularly. Renewal of faith and beliefs lead us to separate ourselves from what is not necessary even though sometimes this may be painful for us. This as a result takes on the full meaning of the ICOF project which is a place of renewal. A project that meets the greatest need of our time in ongoing formation. This was the linchpin of Bishop Paul Pellet, who invested a great deal in the ongoing formation of missionaries, hence the need to place the Centre under his tutelage.

Icof3The Provincial Superior of Côte d'Ivoire, Fr. Seka Narcisse, also recalled the main lines of the ICOF program which aims to be a space for renewal, spiritual sharing, pastoral and even theological experiences. He pointed out that the 2021 program will be held from July 1 to August 29, 2021. A program that will extend over 4 weeks, followed by training for bursars, on resilience and religious life. He borrowed from the spiritual qualities of Bishop Pellet, who remains a spiritual source from which we must drink.

Bishop Boniface ZIRI, who presided over the Mass and blessed the Center, on behalf of his priests and in particular Cardinal Jean Pierre Kutwan, Archbishop of Abidjan, thanked the Society of African Missions for all the work of evangelization carried out in Côte d'Ivoire. For him, this Center will be a source of spiritual oxygenation for the neighborhood of Abobo (Abidjan). He invited participants to read and reread Ecclesia in Africa, a post-synodal encyclical in which Pope John Paul II pays a vibrant tribute to the missionaries. He urged all to be peacemakers, to be uniting, to be free from money and honors. He encouraged people to be above the fray by refusing to lock themselves into the notions of tribalism and nationalism.

Fr. Donald ZAGORE, SMA