WELCOME BACK, FATHER SALAKO
We are very happy to welcome back Fr. Desiré Salako, of the Society of African Missions Fathers (S.M.A.) for the months of July and August. This is Father’s third summer with us at Mary Immaculate of Lourdes.
Since he left us last September he has assumed the office of Father Provincial for the S.M.A. Province of Benin-Niger. Responsible for 75 S.M.A. priests and the mission-posts they staff, Fr. Salako has spent much of the past year traveling to these various missions.
The most difficult field of mission in his area of responsibility is that of Niger—one of the world’s poorest countries, with a population 95% Muslim and 2.5% Catholic. There are twelve S.M.A. missions in Niger at present.
The country has been under a 3 year drought. This year the rains returned at last, but, due to the extremely parched earth, the heavy rains caused flooding, mudslides, and destruction of many houses which are made from dried mud.
The pictures below show some of the effects of this flooding:
The most serious consequence, however, is that the rains prevented people from sowing their crops at seed-time. This means that the population will be faced with famine this year without the help of international aid organizations.
Besides the poverty and the extreme-climate conditions there is the menace of the worldwide jihad. Over the past decade or so money from the Arab Gulf States has contributed to the radicalization of the Muslim populations in Africa. In the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo murders in Paris, January 2015, the consequences of this radicalization were felt by the Christians in Niger. The President of Niger, a Muslim himself, went to Paris to join world leaders who marched in solidarity against this terrorist act. Fanatical imams incited people, claiming that the President was taking the side of infidels against the Muslims. Mobs attacked Christian churches and schools, burning them. Many Christians were killed. The photographs here are of the ruins of the parish of Ste. Thérèse de L’Enfant Jesus in the capital city, two years now after these events. (Note how the large Sanctuary Cross, though charred, was not consumed by the flames.)
All the work of so many years was destroyed in a few hours. Yet the S.M.A Fathers remain at these ruined missions, carrying on as best they can. This is Fr. Salako’s Province. He has been able to travel far and wide through his territory by means of the new truck which our parish donation to him last year was able to buy.
We are glad to have the opportunity to be able to contribute to the support of one field of the Church’s mission in such a personal way through Father Salako.