‘‘Called to grow as evangelizers’’ is the slogan chosen by the province to celebrate the jubilee of 150 years of the missionary presence of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit in Angola.
As a matter of fact, on the 14th March, 1866, the first Spiritan missionaries, Frs. José Maria Poussot and António Anselmo Espitallié, together with Bro. Stephen Billon arrived in Ambriz, in the Province of Bengo. The arrival of these first Spiritan missionaries marked the second phase of evangelization in Angola. The past 150 years of mission there demanded a lot of sacrifice, having to overcome challenges such as adaptation to a new culture, the climate, illnesses, the antipathy of the colonial government, the enemies of the cross, and the national and civil wars for freedom. Many Spiritans died shortly after their arrival in Angola while others died after a long life of missionary activity.
According to Father Maurício Camuto: “The first Spiritan missionaries identified three important aspects of mission: evangelization, human promotion and construction of local churches .
With regard to evangelization, Spiritan missionaries made an effort to learn the local language to the extent of some spoke the language better than the local people. Frs. Joaquim António da Silva e Carlos Eatermann, who worked in the Southeast part of Angola are good examples of this. With their knowledge of the local language, they wrote catechisms, liturgical books, dictionaries and translated prayers. They also recorded and explained the traditional tribal practices and customs of the Angolan peoples.
In the area of human promotion, missionaries opened training centres, professional and technical schools and boarding schools. Today, Spiritans still play an important role in the areas of education, health, justice and peace and integrity of creation.
Great effort was also made in the building of local churches, as well as in the formation of local clergy. Because of this choice, the recruitment of local vocations for the Spiritans came at a much later stage.
Spiritans today have the responsibility to keep alive the flame of faith transmitted by the first missionaries by responding to the challenges presented in the Angola of today: the shortage of personnel to cover the many mission territories throughout the country; national reconciliation, JPIC issues and good governance.
The jubilee year was celebrated in various stages throughout the year: 2015-2016. These were all coordinated by Fr. Belmiro Cuica Chissengueti.
1st February, 2015: the opening of the year of Jubilee , in Kuando, Huambo Province, with the ordination of two Spiritans to the Diaconate,
13th March, 2015: a pilgrimage to Ambriz.
10th-11th April, 2015: A jubilee Symposium held in Huambo .
03rd May: Jubilee of the Malanje mission, held in the Cathedral.
17th May: pilgrimage to Monte Chimbango, located in the mission of Chinguar.
31st May: Priestly Ordination of Deacon Horácio Tchiwale at Saint John the Baptist church, Lobito.
26th July: jubilee celebrations of the Lândana mission, Cabinda.
6th September: silver jubilee of profession in Malanje of Frs. Lucas António, Alberto Tchindemba and Gaudêncio Sangando.
September: An Assembly of all Lay Spiritans, in Lobito, Benguela.
Lubango: jubilee celebrations marking 75 years of the mission of Our Lady of Sorrows, and 50 years a parish.
2nd November: Memorial Mass for the deceased members of the Congregation, celebrated in the mission of Huila, Lubango.
6th December: jubilee celebration of 75 years of the Archdiocese of Luanda.
24th-31st January, 2016: Spiritan Provincial Chapter held in Munhino, Lubango, with the Superior General J. Fogarty and his 2nd Assistant J. Sabença in attendance.
11th-13th March: a jubilee ‘triduum’ of thanksgiving for Spiritan mission in Angola and throughout the world and for its deceased members, with Mass celebrated in St. Peter’s Parish, Luanda.
13th March, 2016: Concluding Eucharist for the jubilee year, which included the ordination to the Diaconate of three young Spiritans.
The future of Spiritan mission in Angola today is assured with more than 50 Spiritans working in 25 communities. The more interesting aspect of these Spiritan communities is the fact that they are international, intercultural and intergeneration in character. This convergence of various nationalities, peoples, languages and age profiles constitutes, without doubt, the most positivive profile of the Angolan Province since its foundation on 29th June, 1977.
By Fr. Gaudencio Sangando