With the life expectancy of many people all over the world having improved, 30 years might still be considered as tender age! However, when we recall that it is 30 years of advocating for and educating about just policies for Africa with different United States’ Governments that is a long time. It also means that a lot of things have happened and are still happening.
This year from 1st – 3rd March, Africa Faith and Justice Network (AFJN) organized a conference in Notre Dame University (South Bend – Indiana) in order to celebrate the 30 years of existence (1983-2013). Our confrere Joseph (Sjef) Donders was the founder of this experience of inter-Congregational collaboration for Africa based in Washington . He is still fondly remembered in the United States by different people because his commitment in the US has been long and has reached several areas (cf. his article in the Petit Echo n° 1015/2010/9 ).
Since the foundation in 1983, several confrères have worked in it in different capacities and recently Barthelemy Bazemo has been appointed to Washington to offer donated services as Policy Analyst to the AFJN Office. Our Society is to-day, one of the, if not the, most important financial contributor to the financing of the activities of AFJN. This is an expression of one of the “wings” of our Mission to Africa and to the African world, the other being Encounter and Interreligious Dialogue.
Cardinal Peter K.A. Turkson, President for the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, had been invited to grace the occasion with a Keynote Conference on 2nd March, but because of the Sede Vacante and the imminent Conclave to elect a new Pope, he could not travel to Notre Dame for the event. A powerful delegation of Missionaries of Africa travelled to Notre Dame University for the celebration. It was composed of the Frs. Julien Cormier, Jean-Claude (Gene) Robitaille, John Lynch, Barthelemy Bazemo and I.
Since Cardinal Turkson could not participate anymore, I was asked to step in for the conference on 2nd March and the homily during the televised mass on 3rnd March. I summarized his conference and then went on to give a Missionary of Africa touch to engaging for Justice and Peace and Integrity of Creation and how Encounter and Dialogue pave the way for and are important for JPIC ministry. You will find Cardinal’s talk in its entirety at the Africa Faith and Justice Network’s website It is worth reading and the website is also worth the tour for more information about their activities and history. My summary of Cardinal’s talk and the M.Afr. touch is available on our website.
Given our commitment to serving, accompanying and advocating as part and parcel of our mission wherever we are in Africa and in the African world, it is important that we collaborate with AFJN and its European counterpart – Africa Europe Faith and Justice Network (AEFJN) founded 5 years later on – by giving them the right information from the grassroots as fully as possible and without fear when they ask us or whenever we have information to share. They know how to use it and still ensure that the one who gave the information is not victimized!
Long live AFJN and long live AEFJN!
by Fr. Richard Kuuia Baawobr, Superior General of the Missionaries of Africa
Fr. Richard replaced Cardinal Peter Turksonas the keynote at the AFJN’s 30th Anniversary Conference . Below are the videos