Recently as I came out of the church after the solemn Sunday Mass in French in this West African city of Lomé, the capital of Togo, there was this Sri Lankan family waiting to greet me. “Oh, Father, you are from India? How nice I can talk to you in English. Do you have a bit of time for us?” the Mother initiated the conversation. As we wound up our meeting an hour or so later, I found myself agreeing to bless, couple weeks later and in English, Diana, the young daughter of the family, after she will have contracted the civil marriage with her fiancé Shanawaz, a young Muslim from India, working now with an international business enterprise here in Lomé.
To make the long story short, the Mother, a Buddhist and Sinhalese, was earlier married to a Tamil Catholic from Sri Lanka, and working in Amman, where Diana was born, baptized a Catholic and did her schooling, 22 years ago. Circumstances of life and work forced the young family to move from Jordan, to Singapore, to Colombo and again to Kuala Lumpur, back to Colombo, and then to more than one African city in Mozambique, Tanzania and Burkina Faso, before finally kind of “settling down” to the cultural realities of Lomé for the last two years or so. At home they speak Sinhalese, in the neighbourhood they can manage with the local Ewe language and some broken French, with Shanawaz Diana will try from now on her Hindi and of course Arabic as he is sportive, the rest of the family will manage in English, and the prayers and blessings we said in the church, after the civil marriage at the local mayor’s office, having read a text from Luke’s Gospel in the SVD-run parish were all in English, and to cap it all, a handful of their Togolese friends who had gathered with us at the newly wed couple’s home for the evening reception sang for them in French.
In fact, our confreres Fathers José Fernando Reis from Argentina, and Fransiskus Uta from Indonesia, both of the parish, had accompanied spiritually and morally the family prior to the day of the civil marriage. Diana wants to remain a practising Catholic, Shanawaz has agreed to cooperate, why not even attend catechism classes and Sunday Mass with her, and the Mother, with a view to celebrating one day the Sacraments of Christian Initiation and eventually the Marriage in the church. While waiting for that happy day, we parted company for now agreeing that love still remains the universal language that we understand quite well across cultural and religious divides, and promising to pray that the dialogue of life that the young couple has embarked upon may bear much fruit.
Joseph Kallanchira, SVD
Le mardi 1 mars 2011 se sont déroulées dans l’église paroissiale de Lidzbark-Warmiński, nord de la Pologne, les obsèques de la maman du P. Mirek Wołodko. La messe d’enterrement concélébrée par 35 prêtres a été présidée par le P. Andrzej Danilewicz, supérieur provincial de la province de Pologne. L’homélie de circonstance a été prêchée par le P. Jacek Pawlik, ancien missionnaire dans la province Togo/Benin. A la fin de la Messe les lettres de condoléances dont celle de la province Togo/Benin et du P. Xene Sanchez, coordinateur zonal d’AFRAM ont été lues par le P. Firmin Kossi Azalekor.
C’est donc a la suite de cette célébration eucharistique qui a vu la participation de nombreux confrères et anciens prêtes diocésains ayant travaillé au Togo que maman Eleonora Wołodko a été enterrée au cimetière communal de Lidzbark-Warmiński.
Eric Hounake, svd
Seigneur, accorde lui le repos éternel et que brille à ses yeux ta lumière sans fin !