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Last Sunday, January 24, 2021, the Ivory Coast Catholic Church concluded, in deep fervor, the closing festivities of its 125 years of evangelization in the presence of the Apostolic Nuncio in the Ivory Coast, Bishop Paolo Borgia, the Minister of Sports, Paulin Danho, representing the Head of State, and several other political, administrative and traditional religious personalities. The Religious of the Assumption, present in the Ivory Coast since 1958, did not tell each other about the event. In fact, a small delegation composed of Sisters Ana Catalina, Edith Gbaguidi, Yvete Monemou, Marie-Louise, Raquel (Lay Assumption) and myself travelled to Grand Bassa, the place where the first white missionaries landed.
We found a jubilant crowd, proud of its spiritual heritage! In spite of the context of Covid-19, the faithful of the 15 dioceses of the country responded to the call of their pastors to give thanks to God for His love and concern for the Ivory Coast. The celebration took place in front of the big Holy Spirit Cathedral still under construction.
When we arrived we found before us a beautiful setting: 200 tarpaulins, 10 tents and the big courtyard, provided for this purpose.
A great moment of this celebration was the procession of offerings by ecclesiastical regions and especially the homily of the Cardinal, Monsignor Jean-Pierre KUTWA, chief presider of the Eucharistic celebration. After having invited the people to thank God with a loud voice, he urged them to give thanks for the national cohesion, for he said: "The months of October and November 2020 have come to further drive home the nail in the coffin of a social context that has greatly disrupted national cohesion and has undermined the fundamental values of our society. Values such as fraternity, solidarity, truth and social justice have ended up becoming rare commodities".
He continued by recalling the mission of the Ivorian Church which campaigns for "integral human development", a difficult task that requires efforts on the part of all. "These efforts," said Cardinal Kutwa, "must, in the future, focus on the truth to be told at all times and whatever it may cost us, on the mercy to be granted in justice and forgiveness to whoever will ask us for it, for truth, mercy and forgiveness are the sine qua non conditions for achieving the reconciliation that provides the framework and paves the way for integral human development. “We hope that his calls will be heard! We implore a shower of blessings on all the Catholic faithful of this country and all the Ivorian people.
Sister Marie-Madeleine AGONOU, R.A.