Abidjan - Agenzia Fides
"On the occasion of the 125th anniversary of the mission in this country today, I wish to thank God for the remarkable missionary zeal. Looking at the missionary works in this country and thinking about all that will come, the challenges to be faced, I ask the Virgin Mary to continue to accompany the Church in Ivory Coast with her maternal intercession," said Fr. Arthur Kola, secretary at the Apostolic Nunciature in Ivory Coast.
An opportunity to look back
This was said during the solemn Mass to mark the 125th anniversary of the presence of the Society of African Missions in Ivory Coast. The Mass was celebrated in the parish of Notre Dame des Apôtre d'Abobodoumé, in the diocese of Yopougon, Ivory Coast.
"After 125 years of presence in Ivory Coast, it is an opportunity to look back to see what our ancestors sowed in the faith and then to look back at those who continue the work of evangelization," said Fr. Narcisse Seka Ogou, Provincial Superior of the SMA in Ivory Coast.
Evangelisation in a changed society
Among the new challenges for evangelization, Fr. Narcisse mentioned "social problems and economic problems in the formation of young priests."
The provincial superior of the SMA in Ivory Coast intends to continue the path started 125 years ago with a special commitment to those most in need.
"The first evangelization will always remain our starting point, and in the future, we will also be particularly committed to issues of justice and peace and environmental protection," he promised.
SMA missionaries first arrived in Grand-Bassam
On 28 October 1895, Fathers Alexandre Hamard and Émile Bonhomme, the first SMA missionaries, arrived in Grand-Bassam to lead the Apostolic Prefecture of Ivory Coast, which had been officially established on 28 June 1895. In 1934, Father René Kouassi, the first Ivorian priest, was ordained. Many more were ordained, some of whom, like Cardinal Bernard Yago, rose to senior ranks of the Ivorian Church.
Bernard Yago was an Ivoirian Cardinal who served as Archbishop of Abidjan from 1960 to 1994 and was created Cardinal in 1983.