GC27: A country full of hope

A Belgian geologist, Jules Cornet, said that “the Congo is a geological scandal” because the subsoil contains riches of every kind. It is understandable then that it became the target of the so-called great powers.” In Monday’s  Goodnight talk, Fr Jean-Claude Ngoy, Provincial of Central Africa, gave an overview of social situation and the work of the Salesians in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

12-03-2014-GC27-CongoThe country’s greatest natural wealth is its minerals but there are also great possibilities for electricity – with the Inga hydroelectric power station – and oil. It should not be forgotten that, after Brazil, the Congo has the largest area of forests on earth.

The Congo is a country the size of a continent. There is a steady exodus to the cities. Kinshasa is now a huge city of 7-8 million inhabitants. The economy shows obvious signs of growth, but this growth does not produce development or social benefits.

According to Fr Ngoy, “The mismanagement of resources can be seen in the lack of solidarity and distributive justice. This has led to great inequalities in the population and also to wars fomented by mercenary militias.”

It is in this context that the Salesians work. They are now in their second centenary of activity in the country, with more than 230 confreres, of whom more than half are in initial formation. The average age is forty-one and there are twenty-seven communities with twice as many works. It is also a missionary Province and  has already given fifteen members to the Department for the Salesian Missions.

From the time when the first missionaries arrived from Belgium, the Salesians have been true to their mission and have maintained a continuous presence in schools. This corresponds to a real social need for young people. Schools, in fact, constitute the biggest number of our works. We have elementary schools, colleges, and three secondary technical schools, and we have recently opened two centres for university studies in computer science and economics and political science.

Specific attention is devoted to works on behalf of young people at risk, with hostels, agricultural schools and centres for professional training. There are also parishes, missions and formation houses, and an international centre for theological studies.

The future is one of optimism and hope. January 2013 saw the establishment of a new Delegation of the Democratic Republic of Congo – West, which includes the houses of Kinshasa and Kasai (the West and the centre of the country). In the future other provinces may be set up.

For this dream to become a reality three conditions must be met.  The steady flow of new vocations must continue, good formation is essential and there must be good leadership of the community. “We are optimistic,” Fr Ngoy said, ”with regard to the consolidation of the communities and also an intelligent  and dynamic expansion of the Salesian presence.”

First Published by InfoANS