Last December 8, 2018, the Emmanuel Community in the Ivory Coast, celebrated its Silver Jubilee. The Bishop particularly touched hearts with his words of thanks and acknowledgement – a meditation on “God with us”.
Silver Jubilee! 25 years !
It has been twenty-five years since the first weekend when Father Boniface welcomed the Community in his parish of Saint-Jean de Cocody in Abidjan. On Saturday December 8, on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, it was a joy for all the brothers and sisters of the Community to gather around the main Celebrant Mgr. Boniface, who has become the Bishop of the Diocese of Abengourou. Giving thanks for what the journey has already been, being at awe at what is being experienced today and the future availability for what the Lord will ask for in the years to come. A yesterday, today and tomorrow thanksgiving and celebration!
The next day, for the first time, the Community gathered on its new grounds on the outskirts of Abidjan. This opens up new missionary perspectives for the years to come. The foundation stone was laid symbolically during a beautiful blessing. The mission continues more than ever. Thank you, Lord!
Excerpts of the word of acknowledgement of Monseigneur Boniface
Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
It is a great joy for me to be with you on this day of the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary and the celebration of the Silver Jubilee of the presence of the Emmanuel Community in Ivory Coast.
I remember, we were together in Saint Jean de Cocody, when I was there as Parish priest and after a few years, I see that the community has grown. In addition, the new statutes have strengthened the value of the Church, Family of God, when lay people and priests of the same community, according to their state of life, participate in the work of evangelization of the universal Church …
God’s presence in the lives of men is a challenge for Christ’s disciples, for those who have put their faith and place themselves at the heart of this world as sentinels.
In the face of these attempts to remove God’s presence from our world, the life of a Christian community, like yours, must always be the light that shines in the darkness amidst individualism, selfishness and exclusion. It is at the heart of this world that wants to be built without God, that your Community must carry the history of the life of Jesus Christ as the pledge of a salvation that takes in God its source and it’s fulfilment …
It is a noble mission that the whole Church entrusts to you and that you have accepted to assume in view of the pastoral dynamism that inhabits you and the will of solidarity and sharing that illuminates your entire community life …
Your community is called “Emmanuel”, that is, “God with us”. Like Mary, you are therefore invited to make God come into the daily life of the men and women of our time …
As you know, it is no longer a question of being content to be just well together within a community, but rather, a question of going out to bring the Good News of Emmanuel to all. To be “a Community taht goes out” meaning, to go to the outskirts to proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom of God, both in parishes and in hospitals, schools, workplaces or on the streets, everywhere. Because the problems to be solved, the challenges to be met today, in Africa and in our country are many and complex.
We all know and wish it: A more vibrant, visible, prophetic Church, more dynamic Christian communities, more committed and daring Christians must emerge in Africa and in our country. They must emerge to be signs, witnesses and actors of peace, of integral and community development, through forgiveness, reconciliation that produce the communion of hearts, strengths and spiritual, human and material riches.
A new Ivory Coast must be born, united, reconciled and fraternal…. thanks to your missionary commitment and that of all the New Communities.
Moreover, what gives strength and value to a Christian community is its missionary commitment, otherwise it risks being an association among many others. Mission is the centre of the Christian faith because woe to us if we do not proclaim the Gospel where there is someone to whom the Gospel must be proclaimed.
Basically, the celebration of 25 years imposes a review, an evaluation, to lay new milestones or strengthen the achievements in order to give the community the splendour of the joy of being together “disciples of Jesus Christ” …
May we, through the Immaculate Virgin whom we remember today, be configured to her Son for a world that is more and more fraternal, just and in conformity with the Divine plan, now and for ever and ever.
Mgr ZIRI Boniface, Bishop of Abengourou