Akwaba ! Abidjan Welcomes the General Council and Provincials, October 2, 2009 !
Welcoming Ceremony for the Provincials
The welcoming ceremony for the Provincials was at the first hour of prayer - Lauds at 6:30 a.m. - at the threshold of the beautiful chapel of the Provincial Community and Juniorate of Abidjan.
“The water that we pour on the earth is a symbol of peace. When you step across it during your African sojourn, in the Province of West Africa, in the Ivory Coast, peace will be passed. We desire, too, that your work be accompanied by that peace for which the world has such a thirst ! This symbol is a sign of the times and is linked with the thirst of Africa, which desires peace and reconciliation from the event of the Synod of African bishops !”
To the beat of drums and xylophone, the provincials stepped across the water and entered the chapel. Four sisters carrying four candles represented the four continents where the Assumption is present :
“May the peoples praise you, O God - may all the peoples praise you ! The Assumption all over the world unites itself to the universal Church in the Church on African soil in order to praise you !” And Psalm 67 came to life.
After listening to the Word of God came the ritual of asking for the news — the custom of the peoples of the southern Ivory Coast. This involved first offering the water of welcome to Sr. Diana, then the exchange of some “news” : “We are all very well and knew that you were coming, thus, we have prepared our hearts and our house to welcome you. We wish you a good arrival : Akwaba !”
Opening of the CGP : Sr. Diana’s Speech
After a test run of the simultaneous translation system, the CGP opened with the invocation of the Spirit of the Lord, the welcome of Diana to all the provincials and most especially to the six new provincials : Lola of Mexico, Patrizia of Italy, Françoise of France, Marie-Jeanne Françoise of Rwanda-Chad, Costa of East Africa (Tanzania-Kenya) and Mary Simon of England. All were invited to introduce themselves and their provinces : it was moving to realize that the majority of provinces have a missionary link with our African provinces, whether from Brazil, the U.S.A., the Philippines, countries of Europe, etc. There was a sense of mutual gratitude at the mutual aid given and received over the fifty year history of the Province of West Africa, this province that is celebrating its Jubilee Year as it welcomes the CGP.
Then came the moment that set the tone for all the work to be done : Sr. Diana’s introductory speech. Her talk highlighted the theme of the CGP of 2009 : “Rooted in Christ, we walk in hope.”
The Birthday of Sr. Diana
The evening was marked by the Opening Eucharist, rich with symbols and with praise. And there was yet another festive note on this very full day : it was the birthday of Sr. Diana, who’d had the good idea to be born on the feast day of the Guardian Angels, those messengers of God and companions of human beings.