CBF-SEA BA Link 2008 No. 25

CBF-SEA BA Link 2008 No. 25

My dear friends in the Word, here is a beautiful letter of our friend, Archbishop Charles Bo. Let us join them in thanking the Lord for all the good things that have been accomplished.

And let us remember also that there is still a lot to be done. I hope you have not forgotten to collect Burmese bibles for Tammy, only two and a half dollars each.

The meeting point of gratitude, achievements, challenges and the Journey ahead

The Catholic Church in Myanmar , led by MDRC took stock of its response to the Cyclone Nargis on 22nd of August. The two bishops of the affected dioceses, Yangon and Pathein, were present in the meeting attended by CI partners, Karuna (National Caritas) and the field workers of the emergency Response. An interim narrative report and a financial statement were presented.

The first response was one of deep gratitude: Gratitude to God for many achievements despite all the suffocating constraints; gratitude to many of our field workers whose commitment and courage braving the waves in the delta to reach the most affected; gratitude to the national and local Caritas networks that responded with professional alacrity to a sudden and overwhelming natural disaster; gratitude to many international Caritas networks that stood by us, visited us and helped us through ERST; and gratitude to our church leaders and individual donors for their support and prayers.

Perfect is the enemy of good. We were not attempting the perfect but we were trying to do good in a country used to incremental suffering. We were reaching out with our hands tied by so many restrictions. This is the first major disaster in our memory. Given all these all these handicaps, one reads the interim report with a sense of satisfaction. Much needs to be done, true.

Risky rescue operations were undertaken by both the dioceses, saving the lives of hundreds. Life saving food and water and shelter materials were distributed to thousands. Medical assistance was rushed to remote areas. Psycho social support to orphans, and widows were extended. Child protection was implemented in many places. Livelihood recovery through distribution of seeds and animals is being affected. Some 17000 families with 86000 people were directly served by our efforts. Our uniqueness is our network, most of the affected areas were parish networks and we could reach out to the people faster with good targeting.

Yet the response was not flawless. Without any expatriate help at the field level, major programmes still need streamlining and fine tuning. As the emergency phase fades away, an integrated approach by the Church is warranted. With the huge disaster our capacity for scaling up is a challenge. Our status as ‘non-registered’ has its own handicap. The need for training and capacity building are hampered by the lack of qualified personnel in the country. Also difficulty was the access to our experienced partners. Our capacity for networking with other agencies and UN can improve in the next phase.

Pathein diocese was more affected and accordingly received greater share of attention and also resources. Financial allocations in the first quarter were proportionate to the needs and Pathein had a great need. This is understandable. One of the major challenges for the two dioceses is to maximize the available human resources and work in integrated way. Planning, reporting and timely submission of financial reports will be a greater duty on the part of the MDRC and the Diocesan networks. Our ability to demonstrate accountability, provide accurate information on activities, beneficiaries reached, expenditure of funds to-date, and on adherence to systems and reporting standards will accrue greater benefits for the poor of our nation. We are obliged to fulfill this commitment.

Myanmar has survived many tragedies. Cyclone Nargis was one of the most painful wounds inflicted on the integrity of our people. Thousands still remain without proper homes. Livelihoods are to be rebuilt. UN and other agencies calculate another three years of rehabilitation which will lead to greater sustainability.

The church pledges its commitment to the people of Myanmar. It had thrown all its resources into the emergency phase. As the people are slowly picking the pieces in their lives and starting once again in this country, we wish to accompany them in their march towards their dignity.

We are grateful to the Mother Church and the Caritas network. We are thankful to you for raising all the human and financial resources for the emergency phase. Many of the private donors too contributed towards wiping out the anguish of our people. To all of you we offer our prayerful gratitude.

Ours is a long march. The pledges and promises need to be translated into real commitment by many of our donors. We are fast learning to meet the standards set by our partners. It is our prayer and wish that our partnership brings greater succor to the people of Myanmar .

In Solidarity

Archbishop Charles Bo, Archbishop of Yangon

Bishop John Hsane Hgyi, Bishop of Pathein.


Thanks so much, and all the best!

Yours in the Word, Sr. Emma G.

CBF-SEA BA Link 2008 No.24

Bishop Wilhelm Egger

Bishop Wilhelm Egger


CBF Mourns the Death of its

Former President Wilhelm Egger


My dear Friends in the Word,

Here is a letter from Alexander, our General Secretary:

Yesterday we received the sad news about the unexpected death of our former president Bishop Wilhelm Egger o.f.m. cap. As president Bishop Egger has guided and represented the CBF from 1996 to 2002; as a noted biblical scholar he has enriched our work and as a lover of the Word of God he has inspired our Federation. On Saturday night, August 16, the Lord has called Bishop Egger to his eternal home.

The CBF loses with Bishop Egger a critical-benevolent friend who even after the end of his presidency has shown continued interest in the Federation. The soon-to-start Bishops’ Synod on the Word of God loses a well prepared Special Secretary; numerous delegates connected to the CBF had been looking forward to the collaboration with Bishop Egger. The Diocese of Bolzano-Bressanone loses a pastorally minded shepard and the Church in Italy a man of the Bible and of ecumenical and cultural dialogue.

Bishop Wilhelm Egger

Bishop Wilhelm Egger

We thank Bishop Egger for the energy, the creative power and the love he has put into our Federation and we ask the God of life that he may now grant His servant life in the full. We are filled with sentiments of gratitude towards Bishop Egger and we keep him in our memories and prayers. R.I.P.

A detailed obituary will be published in the next issue of Bulletin Dei Verbum.

Alexander M. Schweitzer
General Secretary

Many of us know Bishop Egger personally and treasure beautiful memories of our encounters with him. We thank the Lord for his life and his service for the Chrurch and for our CBF and for SEA in particular. May he now behold the glorious face of our merciful Lord in eternal bliss.

In the Lord,

yours Sr. Emma Gunanto, osu.


(Just click the titles and you will be led to the site)

CBF Mourns the Death of its Former President Wilhelm Egger

Bishop Wilhelm Egger

Pope mourns Austrian-born Bishop

Pope Benedict XVI and bishop Wilhelm Egger

Pope Holds Sunday Angelus(Wilhelm Egger)

Pope Benedict XVI Annual Holiday(Wilhelm Egger)

CBF-SEA BA Link 2008 No. 23

CBF-SEA BA Link 2008 No. 23

August 10, 2008



My dear Friends in the Word,

Happy feastday of ‘Mama’ Mary taken up to heaven. There she awaits us, her children, eager to have us united with her Son in eternal bliss. And she watches over us, pilgrims on earth, that we may arrive safely at our destination.

I forward to you Fr. Wims’s letter of appreciation:

Thank you very much for the LINKS 21 and 22: I appreciate your faithful sharing, covering not only Asia, but bringing also good news from Africa .

The Links are not only informative but also provide challenges, make us think and pray! Wim.

Thank you for encouraging us, and to keep us ever going…

And here is Fr. Francis Vu Phan Long’s letter from Vietnam :


I translated the Final Statement of the VII Plenary into Vietnamese and sent it to our Website. Now I’m involved in the preparation of the Holy Year 2010 of the Vietnamese Church : at this date, we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the creation of the Vietnamese Catholic Hierarchy. Pray for us, please. God bless!

FX Phan Long, ofm.

Thanks for your sharing, Fr. Francis, may all your undertakings bear abundant fruit.

Sr. Tammy sends us this reaction to Link 22:

Thanks for your connecting with our friends regarding my appeal. Sr. Sylvia and Msgr Maurice went back to Pathein this week with some plans to contact parish priests in the affected area to share our plan to reach the cyclone victims with “Healing from the Power of the Word”.

1. To find out how many need Bibles, prayer book, rosaries and holy pictures in their parish.

2. When will be the possible time to give a session on Gospel Sharing with the second Conference from BBS Kit, what is Bible Sharing, Proper attitudes, Prayer Response Bible Sharing method, Role of Facilitator and Bible Sharing. Many of Sr Sylvia’s Sister have done BBS as well as all priests in Pathein Diocese so this is easy to organize.

I have booked 1,000 copies of the First Burmese Catholic version of the NT with Psalms and proverbs. As soon as assessment is done these Bibles will be transported to the different parishes. Every week, boats carry food supplies to the parishes as all people have returned and till their land so they could have food in the months to come. Bibles and other Religious materials will be sent to them in due time.



There seem to be a positive response to this appeal. The amount will not reach me until Fr. Oscar Alunday will arrive but this does not hinder the service to rendered to them once the go signal is made.

I have been very busy in the office since the Core Team from Pathein diocese came to do the proof reading and editing of the Burmese BBS Kit. For two weeks we worked from 8:30 AM – 6:30 PM with just snack and lunch break.

So let’s not forget to send as many bibles in Burmese as we can, only $ 2.50 each!

Sr. Beata Balaso, SIHM

We know how much Sr. Beata Balaso cares about our health. She sends us the following article. No matter if you have read it once or twice. The important thing is doing it… So dear friends, read the following and stay healthy!


Cancer Update from Johns Hopkins :

1. Every person has cancer cells in the body. These cancer cells do not show up in the standard tests until they have multiplied to a few billion. When doctors tell cancer patients that there are no more cancer cells in their bodies after treatment, it just means the tests are unable to detect the cancer cells because they have not reached the detectable size.

2. Cancer cells occur between 6 to more than 10 times in a person’s lifetime.

3. When the person’s immune system is strong the cancer cells will be destroyed and prevented from multiplying and forming tumours.

4. When a person has cancer it indicates the person has multiple nutritional deficiencies. These could be due to genetic, environmental, food and lifestyle factors.

5. To overcome the multiple nutritional deficiencies, changing diet and including supplements will strengthen the immune system.

6. Chemotherapy involves poisoning the rapidly-growing cancer cells and also destroys rapidly-growing healthy cells in the bone marrow, gastro-intestinal tract etc, and can cause organ damage, like liver, kidneys, heart, lungs etc.

7. Radiation while destroying cancer cells also burns, scars and damages healthy cells, tissues and organs.

8. Initial treatment with chemotherapy and radiation will often reduce tumor size. However prolonged use of chemotherapy and radiation do not result in more tumor destruction.

9. When the body has too much toxic burden from chemotherapy and radiation the immune system is either compromised or destroyed, hence the person can succumb to various kinds of infections and complications.

10. Chemotherapy and radiation can cause cancer cells to mutate and become resistant and difficult to destroy. Surgery can also cause cancer cells to spread to other sites.

11. An effective way to battle cancer is to starve the cancer cells by not feeding it with the foods it needs to multiply.


a. Sugar is a cancer-feeder. By cutting off sugar it cuts off one important food supply to the cancer cells. Sugar substitutes like NutraSweet, Equal, Spoonful, etc are made with Aspartame and it is harmful. A better natural substitute would be Manuka honey or molasses but only in very small amounts. Table salt has a chemical added to make it white in colour. Better alternative is Bragg’s aminos or sea salt.

b. Milk causes the body to produce mucus, especially in the gastro-intestinal tract. Cancer feeds on mucus. By cutting off milk and substituting with unsweetened soy milk, cancer cells are being starved.

c. Cancer cells thrive in an acid environment. A meat-based diet is acidic and it is best to eat fish, and a little chicken rather than beef or pork. Meat also contains livestock antibiotics, growth hormones and parasites, which are all harmful, especially to people with cancer.

d. A diet made of 80% fresh vegetables and juice, whole grains, seeds, nuts and a little fruits help put the body into an alkaline environment. About 20% can be from cooked food including beans. Fresh vegetable juices provide live enzymes that are easily absorbed and reach down to cellular levels within 15 minutes to no uric and enhance growth of healthy cells. To obtain live enzymes for building healthy cells try and drink fresh vegetable juice (most vegetables including bean sprouts) and eat some raw vegetables 2 or 3 times a day. Enzymes are destroyed at temperatures of 104 degrees F (40 degrees C).

e. Avoid coffee, tea, and chocolate, which have high caffeine. Green tea is a better alternative and has cancer-fighting properties. Water-best to drink purified water, or filtered, to avoid known toxins and heavy metals in tap water. Distilled water is acidic, avoid it.

12. Meat protein is difficult to digest and requires a lot of digestive enzymes. Undigested meat remaining in the intestines become putrified and leads to more toxic buildup.

13. Cancer cell walls have a tough protein covering. By refraining from or eating less meat it frees more enzymes to attack the protein walls of cancer cells and allows the body’s killer cells to destroy the cancer cells.

14. Some supplements build up the immune system (IP6, Florescence, Essiac, anti-oxidants, vitamins, minerals, EFAs etc.) to enable the body’s own killer cells to destroy cancer cells. Other supplements like vitamin E are known to cause apoptosis, or programmed cell death, the body’s normal method of disposing of damaged, unwanted, or unneeded cells.

15. Cancer is a disease of the mind, body, and spirit. A proactive and positive spirit will help the cancer warrior be a survivor. Anger, unforgiveness and bitterness put the body into a stressful and acidic environment. Learn to have a loving and forgiving spirit. Learn to relax and enjoy life.

16. Cancer cells cannot thrive in an oxygenated environment. Exercising daily, and deep breathing help to get more oxygen down to the cellular level. Oxygen therapy is another means employed to destroy cancer cells.

Dear Friends, keep healthy to praise the Lord with a joyful heart.

Yours in the Lord,

Sr. Emma G.

CBF-SEA BA LINK 2008 – No. 22

CBF-SEA BA Link 2008 No. 22

August 8, 2008

My dear Friends in the Word,

Here is Tadsanee’s new e-mail address: m_tadsanee@yahoo.com

Please don’t use the old one, since it has been hacked. Thank you very much.

Sr. Miriam Alejandrino wrote:
Thank you very much for updating us on the situation in Myanmar.  On our part here in Davao, I will try to raise something and send it to Star in Cebu.
Meanwhile, I keep the intentions of Archbishop Bo and the people in Myanmar in my prayers. I learned that the bank charges for sending dollar through the bank is very high.  This last week of October my co-translators from Cebu will come to Davao City for our meeting.  I will just send it by hand carry, they are good friends of Star.

Fr. Moïse Adeniran ADEKAMBI, Director, BICAM, SECAM Secretariat, Accra, Ghana , sent us the sheet of priorities as defined by the participants from Africa during the planning sessions of the 7th Plenary Assembly in Dar.

We all have the text of the Final Statement of the CBF Plenary Assembly. The CBF priorities stated in n. 18 and 19 of the Final Statement and the Africa Priorities are together the “action plan” in Africa for the next years.

Thank you Moïse, for sending us this valuable document. They are also valid for us in Asia . Let’s walk hand in hand to work for a better world.

In the Lord,

yours Sr. Emma Gunanto, osu.










1) Biblical Formation at all levels (for all): priests, catechists, lay men and women, religious, men and women, etc.

Training of ministers in Biblical Pastoral Ministry;

To empower lay people for biblical apostolate;

BICAM should continue what it is doing already in this area of biblical formation at all levels.

2) Africa region and sub-regions meetings

To hold regular meetings of the Catholic Biblical Federation (CBF) for the African Continent every three years;

This triennial Plenary Assembly, like the one of the Federation at the Universal Church level, is more than a simple meeting: it will inject fresh blood in the association for the following 3 years.

The sub-regions will meet at least every two years.

The next continental Plenary Assembly will be in 2010.

3) The next Africa Plenary Assembly

– To take into accounts the two synods:

– Synod on the Word of God in October 2008

– African Synod (Justice, Peace and Reconciliation) in October 2009.

–         To apply the conclusions of these synods

–         To make it a point that the Episcopal Conferences put the Biblical Apostolate as a priority.

4) Easy Access to the Bible

–   To make available to the people

i.      Bibles (local languages) accessible and at an affordable price

ii.      Commentaries, audio visual equipments, learning materials etc

5) Collaboration with Justice and Peace Commissions

–   To work with groups / justice commissions and peace on issues of

– Tribalism;

– Sale of arms;

– Poverty / corruption

What does the Bible say in the face of these injustices?

CBF-SEA BA Link 2008 No. 21

CBF-SEA BA Link 2008 No. 21

Sr. Emma Gunanto, OSU

Sr. Emma Gunanto, OSU

My dear Friends in the Word,

One month has passed since the closing of the 7th Plenary Assembly in Dar Es Salaam. I am sure each of the participants brought home a treasure of experiences and beautiful memories of our encounter with the Word and with each other from all over the world.

If you visit our website https://cbfsea.wordpress.com you will find a rich variety of articles:

1. The FINAL STATEMENT of the 7th Plenary Assembly

2. The opening speech of Hon. Msekwa

3. The Tanzanian Safari by Estrella del Mar

4. Out of Africa and back to Cebu by Estrella del Mar

You can also find the text of a very good speech given by Sr. Miriam Alejandrino: “Breaking the Word in the Church of the poor.”

Is there any concrete plan for Southeast Asia ? YES! I copy the last part of Star’s article “Out of Africa and back to Tanzania ”:

“The South East Asian Sub region has a concrete plan for January to March, 2010, i.e. to have a “Training for Biblical Pastoral Ministers” at East Asian Pastoral Institute (EAPI), Ateneo de Manila University in Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines. We hope to get many members from our sub-region and from Asia and whoever is interested to join us. We still have to meet for the details of this short course. Fr. Jeya, the EAPI Director, promised to get funds for subsidy for those who cannot afford the full amount for tuition and board & lodging. With the help of our membership fees, we may be able to provide additional subsidy to our members who need help the most. We hope that our better-off members will give more of their membership fees.

We continue with our South East Asian Website: https://cbfsea.wordpress.com as our means of communication and exchange. Our networking is beyond communication in the written word as we had bonded together as one family, inspiring and supporting each other to propagate the ministry of the Word in our respective communities wherever we are.

We hope and pray that our Bishops and Priests will support us in the work of Evangelization thru the Word. And in these times of hardship: Reconciliation, Justice and Peace become ever more a challenge and a goal for each one of us. And we believe that the Word of God; shared, prayed and lived in communities will be a Source of Reconciliation, Justice and Peace. God’s Word is our inspiration, encouragement and hope. Truly, the harvest is plenty but the laborers are few. But the few that we have can get some more if and when we sacrifice and work hard to be fishers of men!”

You may still remember that some time ago Sr. Chantana’s email was hacked. The same has happened to Tadsanee. So if you receive an email from her asking to send her money, please don’t reply, it’s a SCAM!

And last but not least, let us listen to the voices of our needy brothers and sisters in Myanmar. Sr. Tammy makes an urgent appeal:

The Pathein diocese distributed 4,500 Bibles to their faithful last year and the Cyclone washed away people’s lives and belongings including Bibles. Therefore we, in the BPM, would like to give copies of New Testament, the newly printed first edition of Catholic Burmese translation, and give them sessions on how to use the Bible: Reading , praying, sharing and living the Word of God.

We are pleading for donors to buy New Testament in Burmese that costs US$ 2.50 a copy. Any positive response to this appeal, I would like to suggest to kindly send it to Star’s account. Star and I will communicate on how she can channel the amount to me.

In the Lord

yours, Sr. Emma Gunanto, osu


Tanzanian Safari

Safari in Swahili means a journey, usually a hunting or scientific expedition. As early as last year, we were sent Information on the Excursions following the Plenary Assembly. There were four to choose from: one day, two-day, three-day and five-day excursions. Each had its itinerary and the cost in US dollars. We made a choice and sent it to the Secretariat in Stuttgart. We also arranged for our return flight in time for the return from the excursions.

The Plenary Assembly was something to look forward to – meeting the CBF family from all over the globe. The theme: Word of God – Source of Reconciliation, Justice and Peace is timely for the present world situation that is constantly challenged towards reconciliation, justice and peace. Truly a dream of everyone but the reality is still far from it.



Another thing to look forward to was going to Africa! Meeting the people of Africa and yes, the wild animals too that we only see in the zoo or on documentary TV shows. The itinerary of the excursions was going to provide both. We chose the 3-day excursion: Morogoro, Mikumi Park, Iringa, Bagamoyo. In Morogoro, we were to visit religious communities and evening to Mikumi Park and early morning tour in the wild animal observation. Wow! That’s great! We could see the nocturnal as well as the diurnal animals! At Iringa, we were to learn about Bible initiatives, among other things. Bagamoyo would be a historical-cultural place to learn many things about Tanzania and Africa.

Three days before the scheduled excursion, there were papers put outside the plenary hall so we sign again our names which “package” we choose. I signed in again on the 3-day excursion but this time, the cost was more than it was published months before. Well, the fuel cost has increased so much by then.

Off to Mikumi and Iringa

Excited with lots of anticipation and expectations on the trip, we woke up very early to start off the journey at 6am on July 3. There were two buses for the 3-day excursion since we were around 37 people. The bus was comfortable enough. We had a driver, an assistant driver but we missed the Tour Guide! There was no one to orient us with the different places we pass by or guide us to the groups we were supposed to meet. Enriched by the parish community experiences the Sunday before, we were excited to meet more communities outside the city of Dar es Salaam. It must be different in the country-side.



No one informed us of the new itinerary or meal schedule. We stopped at a restaurant halfway to Mikumi because our companions needed to use the toilet. Sr. Chantana bought a bag of oranges and shared them to all of us. We did not stay long in that place. The journey continued till we reached Mikumi Park. It was 11:45 AM. We asked where lunch would be – there was no answer. We were at the entrance of the park and we were asked to pay $22.00 each ($20.00 each as entrance fee to the park and $2 each for the guide). Hmmm, there might be a restaurant inside the Park where we could eat lunch. We were hungry already.

After paying, the bus went inside the fenced entrance. We went around Mikumi park. The guide would point to us the impalas, the elephants, the buffalos, a few giraffes and a few zebras from a distance. They were all categorized as “wild beasts” and he described to us how long each animal can sustain without food after having a good catch! That was all he could tell about the animals.



Telling all these to a group of hungry tourists, we thought, it would be better to listen to the national geographic commentaries in their wild life documentaries. Perhaps one or the other among us could imagine a roasted buffalo instead – at least for a change of the fried chicken menu we had everyday at TEC.J There were few animals to watch. What can you expect at high noon? Were we not supposed to visit the park in the evening? We were far from where the animals were. So, some of us were satisfied with taking the photos of baobab trees which were numerous along the way. The leafless baobab trees looked like upside down trees with the roots on top instead of underground.

We stopped on a swamp where there were a few hippos. But they were too shy to see two buses of tourists to watch them. So they hid under water! One or the other managed to put out their head and mouth for a short time. Only those ready with the camera could take a shot! Fr. Valentine did and he was happy with that!

We went out of Mikumi park at about 3pm. The baboons were outside the park.



They were just on the roadsides quite comfortable with the buses passing by. Some of them just sat at the roadside as if waiting to ride the bus.



We were brought to a restaurant of a hotel an hour distance from the park. The meal cost $10.00 excluding drinks. Ok, we were hungry, let it be. We had to wait for more than an hour for them to prepare our orders. So we had lunch at about 5pm. And we had to travel to Iringa where our hotel reservation for the night was. That was a 4-hour ride! We reached at the Living Light Hotel at 10pm! My friends were expecting supper. But there was none – not even coffee or drinking water. The rooms were ok but there was no water! The poor caretaker with his little English explained that they had difficulty with water the past days. And that they were waiting for us early afternoon. Half of the group went out to a restaurant to have supper. Half of us stayed, just too tired and slept with no supper.

According to the driver, we were supposed to go to Iringa National Park after breakfast. With the traveling time, we would reach Iringa national park by noontime again. So we will see the same as in Mikumi and it will just be added expense. We were booked in that hotel for two nights or even 3 days. Majority decided to go back to TEC after breakfast the next morning and ask the travel agency to pay for the night at TEC plus dinner and breakfast. And so we did.



We did not meet any religious community nor bible initiatives from a small Christian community. We only saw the mud houses of the people along the way. There were also tomatoes and fruits for sale lined up in buckets along the road – a colorful way to exhibit their goods. Then there were native baskets hanged in the trees along the road. That was quite an artistic way to show off their market goods.



They have the luxury of space but only a very small part is being farmed. The mountains are rocky and the soil not so good. There were few houses along the way but in some areas, they were a commune. I wonder where they get their food and water. In my place, you will see several schools along the high way. I did not see any in the whole day trip except for one or two places where there was a sign of a school in the interior. Perhaps there were not so many children to go to school.

We passed by the same hotel restaurant for lunch on our way back to TEC. This time, it took one an half hours for them to prepare our lunch! And yes, the lunch was served at 3pm.

Back to TEC, Dar es Salaam

We reached TEC in time for dinner at 8pm on the 4th of July. We imagined we shall be liberated from the beans and fried chicken menu but lo and behold, we still got exactly what we had the last 2 weeks! Nevertheless, we were happy to be back “home”. Then we were told that there was an option to go to Bagamoyo the next morning and those who will stay behind will be refunded with $22 each. Some of us opted to go to Bagamoyo and got a refund of $12 to pay for the museum and lunch. A priest from Tanzania volunteered to be the tourist guide to Bagamoyo. That was great. We had a guide, finally.


From the booklet “Bagamoyo: Where Cultures Met” by Fr. John Henschel, I took some interesting episodes of the history of the town.



Bagamoyo is one of the most attractive towns of Tanzania. Located 70km to the north of Dar es Salaam at the Indian Ocean, the town combines with the beauty of the beach with cultural and historical heritage. Here, the Africans, Arabs, Indians and Europeans met and left their “footprints”. The Catholic Museum in Bagamoyo tells the history of the town and of the Catholic Church in the town.



Although the East African coast is predominantly influenced by Islam, Christianity also has an important input. In the 19th century, Bagamoyo became the starting point of the Catholic Church. In 1840, Dr. David Livingstone, medical missionary of the Anglican “London Missionary

Society” arrived in East Africa. During his journeys through many areas of East Africa, he encountered slavery and was much shocked by “this terrible trafficking in human life”. He got the idea that the best way to overcome slavery would be to open ways for honest merchants to travel into the interior and to establish alternative trades with the Africans. According to Livingstone only “Commerce and Christianity” could stop slavery. David Livingstone died in 1973 near Lake Bagweolo. His porters buried his heart under an Mvula tree, mummified his body and carried the body 1,500 miles to the Catholic mission in Bagamoyo. Here the body rested in the tower of the Catholic Church to await the last journey via Zanzibar to London. Ransomed slaves of the Catholic “Freedom Village” honored the Anglican missionary Livingstone with a night prayer. On April 18, 1874, Livingstone was buried in Westminster Abbey, London.



According to Paul E. Lovejoy, 95,000 East African slaves were taken to the Mascarenes islands Reunion and Mauritius to work on the plantations of French settlers. The population estimates for Reunion of the year 1856 indicate about 190,000 inhabitants; the most were former slaves who had been set free by the French “Abolition of Slavery Law” of 1848. But even after 1848, French settlers imported East African slaves as “contract workers”. Bishop Amandus Maupoint of St. Denis, Reunion, established the first Catholic Mission in Zanzibar in 1860. In a letter to Rome, he outlined his proposals on how to fight slavery: to ransom as many slaves as possible and to train them in schools and agricultural settlements. In 1863 the mission work was entrusted to the Catholic missionaries of the “Congregation of the Spiritans” under the guidance of Fr. Anthony Horner.

The Spiritans ransomed slaves. Soon the mission compound in Zanzibar was too small and on the 16th of July 1868, Fr. Horner opened a new mission in Bagamoyo; the first on the East African mainland with the first “Christian Freedom Village”. The ransoming of slaves continued. The ex-slaves were educated in elementary schools, some even in a secondary school and trained in different handicraft skills. The “village-method” was developed in order to protect the freed slaves from a hostile environment and to educate them in the Christian way of life, so that they could become beacons of Christianity for the neighborhood.



We left the Catholic Church museum enriched with the history of the town. We went to the beach and looked for a place to eat lunch. There was a restaurant near the beach but they had no food. We asked where we could have lunch where the food is already prepared. We did not want to wait for an hour to eat lunch since we were hungry already. We were told to go to Paradise Resort where they serve a buffet lunch. Fr. Bernard, svd said “I do not know how much it will cost but for lunch we will go to Paradise!”



We reached Paradise Holiday Resort, truly for the tourists who can afford. We were ushered to the restaurant with the buffet food ready. It would cost us US$20.00 each excluding drinks. We had no choice but to pay the price and simply enjoy the food and the beach view.

We went back to the beach near the Church where some of our companions enjoyed a short time of swimming, some slept and some shopped for souvenirs. That was good. We went back to TEC in time for dinner of fried chicken!


FAST CRAFT TO ZANZIBARMany were leaving the next morning but there were a few of us who had one day to spend before the day of departure. So a few of us, Fr. Cleophas Fernandes, Arch. Boutros, Fr. Albert Pirson, Christiane Paul, Fr. Doms Ramos, svd and myself arranged to go to Zanzibar the next day. We left at 6am by taxi to the port. The fast craft ticket cost $35 or $70 for the round trip. The boat trip was for two hours. Sr. Chantana preferred to take the plane to Zanzibar. When we arrived at the Zanzibar port, we lined up to fill up the arrival form and have our passports stamped for a day visit although you can stay longer if you want. Then a guide approached us and after some negotiation for his rate, we had a tour of the significant places of Zanzibar on foot.

The guide was good and gave us a historical background of the places we visited. Zanzibar is predominantly Muslim. 99.9% of the inhabitants are Muslim. The Muslim influences were clearly manifested. The carved wooden doors of the houses were tourist attractions aside from the historical buildings. Some have pointed brass spikes to protect the household from elephant attacks (so we were told although we did not see any elephant walking around). The exquisite doors with their sizes and designs are status symbols.

We went to the market where several kinds of fish were displayed for sale. There was also an auction of TV and other appliances or things going on in the marketplace.

We also went to the Catholic Church where the choir practiced for the Sunday mass service. The Church is big and beautiful. Although the Catholics are a minority, they managed to keep the faith alive.

We went to the house where the slaves were kept centuries ago. I could not believe that hundreds of slaves could be accommodated in such a small room in the basement with only one small window. We were told that many died from suffocation in that room. The chains stuck to the stone pillar were still there. The slaves were chained in their necks, hands and feet. They were displayed in the market place where the Anglican Church is now built. Only the strong ones were bought and many rejects just die from hunger, disease or suffocation in their dungeons. It’s a very sad part of their history. Thank God, there is no such thing now.

However, there are new forms of slavery in our generation. Our domestic helpers in the middle east and in other places are being treated like slaves. Some are raped and killed. Many are enslaved by drugs, alcohol, sex, money and power. We need prophets to remind the people that this earthly life is just a stop over. There is more to life than what the world can offer. Someone said that life is short. The reality is – life is not short because it is eternal. And this life determines what our next life will be. Some are given small responsibilities; some are given greater responsibilities. God wants us to be happy in this world and happier still in what is in store for us for the next.

We were brought to a restaurant near the port and beside the sea for our lunch. It was a nice place with a view to the sea. The meal cost $10.00 each excluding drinks. Then we headed for the port where our fast craft was. But we had to pass by immigration office to fill up the departure card with our passport. Going to Zanzibar is like going to another country. J

The journey back home

Enriched by the African experiences, the encounter with participants in the Plenary Assembly and the situations of peace and justice in different parts of the world, we went home with plans and dreams to realize in the next months and years. We were more challenged to make the Word of God – a Source of Reconciliation, Justice and Peace. Our various experiences and encounter with the Word of God in our daily Lectio Divina showed us that the challenge begins with each one of us – in our personal lives, in our families, communities and the society where we are a part.



I pray that our beautiful words and plans in the 7th Plenary Assembly will not be left at the AMECEA Hall of Tanzania Episcopal Conference but will be realized in our very homes and work places. As charity begins at home, so should justice and peace be. The journey of a thousand miles begins with the first steps. May these first steps be for the people we see often everyday, the people we work with and the people who make our life meaningful.

Estrella (Star) del Mar

CLFC, Cebu City, Philippines