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Fr Alejandro after visiting Togo and Benin: "Religious are just a drop in the ocean of needs"

The visits to both Togo and Benin by the Prior General of the Order from the 15th-19th of May was marked by a heavy schedule of meetings with members of our Augustinian family, with updates on a number of projects they hope to run in each country

In the company of Fr Martin Davakan, provincial of Belgium, and Fr Anthony Kanu, provincial of Nigeria, Fr Alejandro had the opportunity to discover for himself what is happening on the ground in these two countries, in how they live their faith and the vocational, educational and hospitaller work that is being undertaken now and is planned for the coming years.

"I was surprised to find the Church practically full at Mass on the first day, with people situated so close to me. It was lovely to see this new formation community and find out more about the projects that the friars are tackling," says Fr Alejandro.

Aid for fencing at the Augustinian Kope Centre in Lomé, Togo and a hospital for Cotonou, Benin

At the end of a packed first day, the Prior General visited the Augustinian Kope Centre in Tsjikplonou, near the centre of Lomé, Togo to give a blessing to this newly opened space on a planned multi-functional site. Fr Alejandro followed this visit to the centre with a tour of the farm which supplies the community and raises income by selling its excess produce. He then went to pray at the tomb of Fr Jolly, who sadly died last year. While on this site - an area of more than 10 hectares - he was able to discuss the many challenges and problems facing the development of the land, which Fr Martin confirmed will include building a school, a centre for devotion and pilgrimage to St Rita, a formation centre, and a retreat centre for priests. "But,” as Fr Martin points out, “to achieve all this we need funding. The land needs to be protected and fenced off as soon as possible.”

Next stop: Benin. This was the Prior General’s second visit to its port city of Cotonou, where a school for nurses and also a hospital are planned.

" We religious are, when all is said and done, just a drop in the huge ocean that is needed to to meet the many needs that exist". Fr. Alejandro Moral

"There are important echoes across what we are doing these days in both Togo and Benin," Fr Alejandro recounts. "It is with great hope and joy that I have been able to witness that there are many children in Africa who can be helped by these initiatives. But we must not be complacent, since the reality of the wider African continent remains a challenge for the whole world, and especially for Europe. We religious are, when all is said and done, just a drop in the huge ocean that is needed to to meet the many needs that exist.”

During his general visit, the Prior General was able to meet with a number of ecclesiastical and diplomatic officials - including the Archbishop of Lomé, Mgr Nicodème A. Barrigah-Bénissan, and the Nigerian ambassador to Benin - as well as engage with the young professed of the Convent of St Rita in Lomé, who are fully immersed in their formation for religious life and priesthood, and with the Augustinian Sisters of Calavi. Fr Martin commented that "Both meetings were very interesting and enriching."



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