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Don Bosco Matadi - Monrovia

Home for the young

“We have to be there for the young people day and night”

 21 December 2017 (ANS – Monrovia) – Brother Lothar Wagner SDB has been in Liberia for about a year now. In the West African country the 43 year-old Salesian takes care of children and young people who are socially marginalized, such as the homeless “cemetery children” from Monrovia. The young people have to sleep in tombs because they do not have an alternative sleeping Kirsten PrestinHow are young people doing in Monrovia?The young people suffer the most from the consequences of a decades-long rebel war and the Ebola crisis. The educational system is rated one of the worst in the world. The police and judiciary are corrupt. The health care system has broken down. According to a new study more than half of the population is directly affected by famine. I could continue with that list. Ultimately it is fatal that the state crisis has reached the families and thus also the children. Despite hard work, the daily salary does not suffice to feed the family. Frustration and the resulting aggressions of the leaders in the family are transferred to the children. Families are torn apart, whole rows of children end up on the streets. In the last couple of months I have met numerous children who consume drugs to escape their everyday life. That is simply terrifying.What do youths need the most?The young people need encounters with people who take their problems seriously, who help them face conflicts in a constructive way. Youths need role models – people who show them a hopeful perspective in life. And they need a lot of attention. Attention they do not receive in most cases and then they can easily end up in a vicious circle of drug addiction, prostitution, acquisitive crimes and finally sickness and despair.The children and also the Salesians at the grassroots level need a lobby. They are in need of people who support them. Everybody should act firmly so that children in seemingly hopeless life situations get professional and motivated people to support them. Often the children need a doctor, a teacher, an educator, even more a friend as their companion. But these people also need to be trained. Besides personnel also rooms are required, in which the children can develop themselves. A school is needed, a training place and a playground as well. We should also not forget that many children who are in danger are  in need of temporary shelters.How can the Salesians help them?Firstly, we have to be present. Or in the words of Francis, the Pope: we have to be  present in the peripheries. A sustainable partnership between the children and the Salesians is very important. A non-binding declaration of intent, as we often see it in politics, is not sufficient in this case. Instead the declaration must be written in a concrete and unmistakable manner to make sure that we go through thick and thin with them, day and night: we take them from the street and bring them back to their families, take them from prison back to school, from drug addiction to a meaningful life. They need intact families, good education and a viable professional training.How is the current political situation in Liberia?At present, this is difficult to assess. It seems that a few influential people consciously make the situation complex. Currently it is hard to see through the situation. The international media with their short tickers rarely report about the situation in Liberia because the political situation is simply too diffuse. Fact however is: the people want a political change. (…) The presidential elections were interrupted after the first round in early October due to the accusation of massive electoral fraud. (…) The Supreme Court and the National Election Commission will decide if a run-off election between the two candidates will be held but they take an extraordinary long time to make a decision. It is unclear what the role of both institutions actually is. We sincerely hope that the Liberian people show perseverance and patience.Which moments or encounters give you strength?It was pouring rain when I came to the central cemetery in Monrovia for the first time. There I found children who lived in tombs because they did not have a roof over their heads. Suddenly, I had longer eye contact with one of the children who was looking over at me from a tomb. After a while the boy smiled at me. Without any words. A small gesture as a clear sign, ann invitation to his world. It was simply overwhelming. He allowed me to come closer, to enter into his world. This really reinforced my decision to be there for the forgotten children. What a message was given to me through the child, when I saw in him Christ himself. I met him through the child, in the tomb. An incredible feeling of happiness. A gift of grace in the middle of unthinkable suffering. 



16th July, 2018 by don Nicola Ciarapica


 The Salesian mission at Tappita, in the Liberian forest, is now re-establishing itself again after years of forced expulsion: it was founded by the Salesians before the civil war in Liberia (1989-1997), but was then handed over to the local clergy for the impossibility of communications and lack of personnel. In this phase of re-awakening, it needs everything: from small things, like a whistle to referee the games of the oratory or the catechetical animation material, to the most demanding, such as reactivating the school, creating the youth center ... It is a reality where the pioneering spirit of the mission ferments every activity of education, social development and evangelization.The three Salesians who have taken over the mission have given themselves a few months to take stock of the situation, understand the challenges and draft an action plan. They currently live in the house that belonged to the Consolata Sisters until they too had to leave due to the war. In the last 20 years the structure has been used in part by the priest who visited the mission from time to time and then permanently, but its deterioration was progressive and fast. For Christmas activities, the community had decided to adopt the "do as it has always been done" method to see and learn from the situation. And despite the challenges of the reality of Tappita – rationed electricity and water supply, sketchy communication routes, linguistic difficulties with the local population - the religious have begun to shape pastoral activities.In January, all the parish groups met: Pastoral Council, Economic Commission, Men, Women, Young People, altar boys, Chorus, and various Associations ... "Every evening, from 5 pm onwards, we 'listened'," explained Fr Riccardo Castellino, SDB.The parish also has 24 mission stations in the villages. The Salesians have decided to visit them all: so every Sunday one of them stays in the parish and the other two reach two neighboring villages.The local people are simple, poor. They live on agriculture, and though they do not lack food, they have no money to spend. All the communities, with the little they have, have built or are building a little church of mud and sheet metal."There is a lot of work to do and this involves a great deal of energy and material resources. But they too are children of God and deserve our full attention!," concludes Fr Castellino.  The Salesian mission in the Liberian forest, at Tappita, continues its development, expands its services to the local population and gives new impetus to apostolic activities. But the community, not ready to settle down, wants to do even more and is already looking at all the other initiatives to carry out.At the end of March, electricity was also brought to the mission which, until now, was the only residence in the entire town not connected to the grid. "Now the church, the school and the dispensary can also connect and carry out their activities more efficiently," said Fr Riccardo Castellino, SDB, in a letter.Among the items in the to-do list are the mission's roofs. The community hoped to be able to deal with this issue later, but the unexpected increase in seasonal rains made the change mandatory.A new area of commitment will be the construction of a palava hut, that is an outdoor kiosk where meetings, reunions and activities can be organized and hosted. "The parish lacks rooms for meetings and for catechism. This is a first, quick and easy solution," said the Salesian. Subsequently the intention is to restructure the old Salesian residence, which was sacked during the war.And again, "always thanks to Providence," as the missionary points out, two motorcycles have arrived, which will allow them to reach the villages cars cannot access and make travel easier and cheaper.Each new instrument is aimed at evangelization and education: the Salesians continue to visit the surrounding villages, have imparted the Sacraments of Christian Initiation to various catechumens, have held two meetings in as many villages."The methods are the usual ones," the letter continues. "Three days in a village, where people sleep in the school or in the homes of families who welcome them. A roof of branches is prepared, one cooks outdoors and does catechesis. We discuss the problems of the various communities, make plans for the year and encourage each other to maintain and live the faith."The mission also welcomed the local bishop and the Superior of the Salesian Province during two quick visits. "After seeing us with his own eyes, the Provincial assured us that this is a very significant and meaningful presence. This motivates and urges us to do more and better. Now let's look forward. We are thinking about the Youth Summer Camp. It will be an absolute novelty," ends Fr Castellino's letter. 



16th July, 2018 by don Nicola Ciarapica

A young Liberian man professes as Salesian of don Bosco

This time I write to you from Sunyani in Ghana, where I arrived on August 14th. Today, September 8th is the day of the birthday of Our Lady, today is also the day when, in many places the salesian novices have the first religious profession. Our Salesian Provincial AFW also presented 13 young people who made the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience to serve the poor and the young in need, like Don Bosco Among them was also a Liberian youth Androvish Berrian. Yesterday, another young Liberian Edward Boateng started, the novitiate year. Both of them: Androvish and Edward, have made their period of aspirantate in Matadi in the past years. The goal of the mission is not only to get closer to those who are more in need but also to discern and accompany vocations to priestly and religious life. The testimony of these young people who with generosity respond to their vocation is a sign that the Lord does not leave his flock without shepherds and without prophets.



8th September, 2017 by don Nicola Ciarapica

Another greeting more from Matadi

A warm greeting to all of you, dear and beloved ones,The weekly Gospel of the past days leads us to meditate on the call of the apostles and their being sent to announce that God is near, to heal, to deliver ... as Jesus Himself did.It is time for me to be sent to another mission! From this August, I will be part of the community where the novices of West African English speaking countries Province are. I will leave Liberia and move to Ghana, from Monrovia to Sunyani, from a mission among people, to a community that forms the future Salesian Africans.I will have as Rector Fr. Chukwudi Akubueze, who has been young aspirant with me in Onitsha, and I will be the administrator of the community. It will be a different way of working for the Kingdom of God by accompanying, sustaining and training the new generations of the African Salesians.Great thanks to all of you, for sharing the mission with me. You have always been close to me, and at the same time you have been brothers and sisters of the people of the mission showing affection, prayers, and continuous economic support. In Matthew's Gospel we read: "Whoever has given just a glass of fresh water to drink to one of these little ones, for they are my disciples, truly I say to you, he will not lose his reward (Mt 10, 42). My mission, your mission does not end here ... you can continue or maybe you move to another place and environment of this large common house that is the world. I know that respecting the missionaries of the Gospel, is for you not an emotional response of your heart ... but the testimony that your faith is serious. It is sure evidence that you are faithful to Jesus and to His Gospel.A fraternal embrace with God's Blessing on you and your families, as we continue to pray for each other.Fr Nicola Ciarapica 1st August, 2017



1st August, 2017 by don Nicola Ciarapica

Names News of the 25 years of Salesians in Matadi

News about New Matadi Salesian Presence .  In the booklet, we find that in the year of the centenary of the death of Don Bosco 1988, “...another providential piece of the news came to light, the availability of piece of land for a Youth Centre, and possibly a Church in Matadi. This good news was celebrated a few weeks later with a special show, including Joseph and his amazing Technicolor Dream coat, produced by Bro. Joe Glackin and Fr. Michael O’Meara. This was a great success, playing audience of children and parents from parish, and was enjoyed by all”. (“LIBERIA - 25 Years with Don Bosco” -2004, page 4)            In February 1989, Sean Devereux, a volunteer from UK arrived in Monrovia. It was not realized at this time, the effect Sean’s hard work and dedication would have on the people of Liberia, especially the children.Sadly, on Christmas eve there was a rebel incursion in the north of the country. This was just the beginning...During the trouble of the war, on Christmas 1990 Sean Devereux had written to the UK Provincial Fr. Michael Winstanley: “It may be wise to consider some new presence here. One possibility is working with the ever-increasing number of street children kids. Now there are gangs of boys, homeless that roam around Waterside, the Freeport etc.  They are dangerously idle. We need to get an orphanage boys town/sleeping eating hostel, of the ground. I think more ever this is a call for don Bosco’s work.” Year 1991In August 1991, “the land, in Matadi, to be used for a Youth Centre was finally acquired and became operational the following month. When Bro. Blamoh Harris (the first Liberian Salesian, at that time is was following the philosophy post profession formation) arrived back in Monrovia he joined Bro Joe Glakin (a salesian from Scotland, which was concluding the Theological studies before to be ordained priest) at the newly formed Matadi Youth Center. On 25th September the Salesians of Don Bosco established the Don Bosco Youth Centre, venue for youth development, reconciliation and rehabilitation,  home to cater to youths of the nearby communities of Lakpazee, Fiamah, New Matadi, Old Matadi, Airfield and other adjacent areas of Monrovia. The early days the salesian had a small dorm and young people confused from the war.Year 1992After his ordination, in 1992, that took place in his town, Joe Glakin returned to Matadi to continue his excellent work, assisted later in the year by Fr Chris Heaps. Bro Ondrey Fischer, from the Chech Republic also joined them. Ged Naughton, a volunteer from England also worked hard at the Youth Centre, in this period, but almost one year had to left because the rebels treated seriously the life (five American sister of the Precious Blood were killed by the rebel in October 1992. A very small group of Catholics from the neighbourhood began joining in with the Mass there instead of going to St. Joseph’s. Mass was in the large building surrounded by a park. After a time they chose the name Holy Innocents in remembrance of the many young people killed and hurt during the war. Baptism classes began but they went to St. Joseph’s to be initiated and enrolled in St. Joseph’s baptismal register. Baptism classes began but they went to St. Joseph’s to be initiated and enrolled in St. Joseph’s baptismal register.Fr. Chris Heaps was acting as parish priest in Matadi then but most of his attention was on the youth work and Don Bosco Homes  ...Bro Ondrey Fischer was following the constructions. Year 1993Also Sean Devereux who was transferred to Somalia lost his life there as he was serving UN voluntary, on 2nd January 1993. After his death the Don Bosco Youth Centre in Matadi was named Don Bosco Sean Devereux Youth Centre. In July Fr Joe Glackin, established the Don Bosco Homes in Liberia. The objectives of this excellent work are summed up in the official brochure:Don Bosco Homes aims to reach and support and empower young people in difficult circumstances, to restore self-esteem and encourage them to take place in society as independent responsible citizens. The principal target group are boys and girls aged between 9 and 17 years who are displaced, abandoned, living or working on the streets, or with serious family problems.In August, the first Liberian Salesian, Blamoh Harris, made his final profession and left Liberia once more, to continue his studies in Nairobi – Kenya. The Salesians in Don Bosco Sean Devereux Youth Center are part of the Community in 8th Street but the activity is now enter under the Central Office of the Don Bosco Programs set up to unite Don Bosco Homes (DBH), Don Bosco Rehabilitation & Skills Training (DBRST), Don Bosco Youth Centre - Matadi (DBYC), Don Bosco Polytechnic (DBP). Active part of these programs has been Fr. John Thompson who has been in Liberia up to the end of 1996.The Don Bosco Oratory is named Don Bosco Sean Devereux Youth Centre.Some facilities at the Youth Centre are built up. Year 1994By March 1994 the foundation for the Don Bosco Rehab Programme began. Workshops and classrooms were built for welding, electrical, plumbing, building and auto mechanics. Misereor from Germany supplied all the funding.  Fr. John Thompson who has been in liberia up to the end of 1996 was also part in these programs.In August a group of business men and women, among them Fr Joe Brown, met with the Liberia National Transitional Government. They discussed the Liberia Fund for disarmament, whereby they would be able to buy weapons and destroy them publicly. They received the full support of the transitional government, and obtained over US$10,000.00 from business community, but were eventually stopped by ECOMOG, because the weapons had to be given to the incoming government. The money was then divided among the non-government relief agencies.Bro Ondrey Fischer left on July 1994, returning in Prague, after two fruitful years of Salesian work in Liberia. Facilities in Matadi are left completed by Brother before returning in his province. Year 1995For the feast of Don Bosco 31st January 1995 was celebrated with the excellent background music offered by Don Bosco Beat Band from don Bosco Homes. A few weeks later took place the inauguration of the extension of the Don Bosco Rehab Program, which was supported by Misereor. Two voluntaries, Fred Toomey from America and Fred Guyot from Germany, help for about one year in the skills training programme, which Br Donald MacDonald started. Early in the morning, on 1st March 1995, the Consolata Sisters near the Youth Centre in Matadi, contacted Fr Brown by radio handset. Armed robbers had broken into their residence. They had smashed down four doors and hit Sr. Giovanna, knocking out some teeth. Fr Joe Brown, who had a curfew pass, went to rescue the Sisters by car, shining headlights on the building in the complete darkness, and managing to scare the intruders away. He then took the Sisters to hospital for treatment.In 1995 Don Bosco also opened the ‘Monte Carlo Girls Training Center’ in Broad Street. The program was designed to cater for vulnerable socially disadvantaged street girls in and around Monrovia, who could not afford to continue regular academic school and were with faced with socio-economic problems. They were offered training in pastry, sewing, hairdressing, literacy, small business and health education. Year 1996On Easter Sunday, 6th April 1996 at 3:40 am, the capital Monrovia was stormed by rebel forces. Waves of fighters, many of them children, were clearing people out of their homes, looting shops and supermarkets. All foreign nationals were advised to leave. Thirty eight Sisters, Priests, (among them Fr. Chris Heaps and Fr. Jose Valiplackel, an Indian Salesian who had arrived in February, and the voluntary Fred Toomey), left by helicopter from US Embassy to Freetown.Fr Brian Jerstice, the Rector was asked to return to UK to discuss the situation.By June 1996 the number of missionaries in the country was down to twelve. Only three Salesians remained in Liberia Frs. Joe Glackin, Joe Brown and Larry Gilmore. Year 1997In 1997 Salesian involved in taking care mostly of the former child soldiers in the Don Bosco Rehab & Skills Training Program.Under the direction of Fr. Joe Glackin great contribution was given to the Archdiocesan youth apostolate, in school retreats, workshops, training of catechists and catechumens etc.  At a point the Salesians were running 6 parishes!  In March, on Palm Sunday, His Grace Michael Francis blessed ‘Sean Devereux Youth Center’ in Don Bosco New Matadi. Also, footballer George Oppong Weah, who had been voted FIFA player of the year 1995, and was now UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, attended the large public programme at the former American Cooperative School (ACS).  He was entertained by the Don Bosco Homes with the music provided by the Bosco Beat Band. It was a very proud moment for all concerned when he described in public, how he had his car repaired by the Don Bosco Rehab Program.In 1997, Archbishop Michael Francis engaged Mr. Benz to construct the Church building because the congregation was now quite large and was using the outdoor hall for Mass.In May 1997,  Blamoh Harris became the first Liberian Salesian to be ordained priest on Pentecostal Sunday. Fr. Blamoh started to reside in Don Bosco New Matadi acting as Parish Priest of HIP even though the canonical erection of the Parish has been issued only on year 2000. In 1997 was the reactivation of the Christian Foundation for Children and Aging (CFCA) scholarship program with 37 beneficiaries this year.  In August 1997, the first group of Salesian Co-operators made their promise. Joe Wiah and Bartholomew Wreh left for the pre-noviatiate in Nigeria, Bro. David Konneh left for Tanzania to continue his salesian studies as salesian.  Also Confort Davis and Jacqueline George left Liberia travelled to Ivory Cost, interested in becoming Salesian Sisters.Fr. Joe Brown helped to erect the new short wave Catholic radio station, Radio Veritas. A decision was made to reopen the don Bosco Polytechnic that was closed since 1990.Fr. Joe Glackin became rector of 8th Street  as Fr. Brian Justice ended his 8 years in Liberia .The year ended with the dedication of the national shrine of our Lady Queen of Peace, at Virginia. Year 1998A memorable event in the year 1998 was the ‘Salesian Family Parade’ organized by the Salesian Cooperators for the feast of Mary Help of Christians. This included a march through the streets from 8th Street to the Holy Innocent Parish Matadi.Fr Chris Heaps returned to Monrovia especially to support the work being done in the Don Bosco Homes. Frs. Blamoh and Fr. Larry Gilmore were making considerable progress with aspirants in Matadi at the Youth Center.In April 1998 the mini skills training program for the purpose of empowering young people was introduced in Sean Devereux Don Bosco Youth Centre with emphasis on sewing and typing, Was introduced also the cultural troupe intended to constantly remind youngsters on the aspects of Liberian cultural practices. Additionally there is an academic program by which the Centre pays fees and tuition for some needy students in various schools in Monrovia and Tappita.By Christmas the first issue of the magazine ‘Don Bosco Link’ was published. This excellent magazine was edited by John T. Monibah and focused on the many Don Bosco programmes in Liberia. Year 1999In 1999, Holy Innocents’ Parish is canonically erected as Parish.Fr. Harry O’Brien who had been parish priest in St. Joseph’s parish for 16 years, moved to the Youth Centre in Matadi. Mr Michael Sowah is assigned as Cathechist to Holy Innoents Parish. Year 2000Fr. Francis Preston the UK Provincial and Fr. Gerry O’Shaughnessy, paid a 10 days visit at the end of January 2000, culminating in the parade by about 500 from the various Don Bosco programmes to mark Don Bosco’s Day, from Don Bosco Polytechnic to the Youth Centre Matadi. This was followed two days later by a candlelight dinner dance at Matadi for about 150 members o the staff and their partners.  Fr Harry O’Brien was asked to be Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Monrovia. Fr Joe Brown, after more than 20 years in Liberia returned to UK to set up a mission office in London to support the work of the Salesians mainly in Liberia.The DBYC provides a wide range of activities including vocational education, recreation, academic assistance, counselling, and youth retreats. Professional courses are organized to acquire marketable skills in tailoring and clerk typing.   Target groups include: Youth people interested in vocational training, school drops outs, youths who wish to acquire basic skills in reading and writing, Youths involved in sports and recreation, Illiterate adults wishing to acquire reading and writing skills in order to be able to assist in tutoring their kindergarten school-going children. Year 2001 The year started  on a very sad note. Bro. Bartholomew Weah died tragically in a motor accident on 14th January at the very young age of 27.Fr. Blamoh travelled to US to attend the first session of an on-going MA course in Youth Ministry at Boston College.  By the end of July 2001, because of the many movements, there was only Fr. Joe Glackin and Fr. Jose Valiplackel at 8th Street, Fr Larry at Matadi and Fr. Harry at the Cathedral. A workshop on Children protection and rights promotion was organized from 23rd- 28th July  by Paul Najue (a past pupil of Don Bosco Polytechnic), director of Don Bosco Homes, for 280 Security Personnel and after for the Armed forces of Liberia,.Towards the end of the year, Fr Joe Glackin , the Rector was very ill, he had to return to UK for specialist treatments and Fr. Jim McGarry came from UK to asset the situation. Year 2002The CFCA programme, started by Fr. Chris Heaps and Fr. Joe Glackin in 1989 was now being run by John Rufus Ballah, and sponsored 995 regular students in nineteen Catholic and Community schools in Monserrado, Bomi, Margobo and bass County.The Don Bosco Rehab and Skills Training Program was wound up at the beginning of the year, due to financial problems. The property was taken over by the Archdiocese, which established a Production Centre.The Don Bosco Homes had now taken the lead to identifying children’s rights and protection issue. Thirty-three months after the Government of Liberia placed 70 children in the custody of Don Bosco Homes, they were reunited with their parents. Year 2003For two months from 6th June 2003 the capital was under siege by the rebel group LURD, their aim being to over through the president.  During this time all the Don Bosco programmes did what they could to continue, taking in all those who sought refuge and who needed to be fed. Also Fr Larry Gilmore and the Don Bosco Youth Centre Projects coordinator Aloysius Klon had about 150 displaced people in the Youth Centre at Matadi.On the initiative of Fr Blamoh, with the promotion and the support of the HIP, in 17th November 2003, a new primary school (k1 to Grade 3) dedicated to Mary Help of Christians was opened in Matadi.  Two ground floor buildings with some classes and offices for MHCCS lessons are arranged.  The aim of the school is to provide a firm, solid elementary foundation to enable the children to enrol and cope in other institutions.Later in the year outstanding support came from CAFOD who described Don Bosco Homes as the only organization welcoming former child soldiers.The DBYC envisioned the need to operate a mini-skills program  in carpentry, brick-making, soap making, typing and sewing, and adult literacy courses of 18 months. Among the instructors is Mr. Evans Stevenson, Mr. Brooks, Mr. Gray, Mr. Klon.Between late March and Early April, the Don Bosco Youth Centre was blessed to have been visited by five senior Salesian priests: FR. Valentin De Pablo Coucelor of the General Salesian chapter, for the Africa Region, Fr Francis Preston the Provincial Father of British and Liberian Province; Fr. Jim McGarry councillor of the Salesian Province, Fr. Mervyn Williams Economer of the Salesian Province, Fr Riccardo Castellino delegate of the English-Speaking West Africa delegation. Year 2004The year 2004, the Rector Major Fr. Pasqual Chavez Villanueva canonically erected the new Salesian Vice Province of English Speaking West Africa (AFW) that included Ghana, Nigeria, Sierra Leon, Liberia.In January, the footballer George Weah returned for a four day visit. The highlight of this visit was a celebration for 100 demolished child soldiers, at a centre run by the Don Bosco Homes in Virginia. This event had worldwide publicity.  The feast of Don Bosco was celebrated befittingly with the presence of the Archbishop Michael Francis at holy Innocents’ Parish. The homily was given by Fr. Ivor Netto from London who had arrived ten days previously.On 1st July 2004, Fr. Chukwudi Akubueze, a newly ordained Nigerian Salesian sent by Fr Riccardo Castellino  Provincial Father of the new formed AFW, arrived. He gave new impetus to the Don Bosco Sean Devereux Youth Centre in Matadi.With the arrival of Fr Chukwudi Akubueze, Fr Blamoh left Liberia to be Rector of San Francis Community in Ashaiman Ghana. Fr. Lawrence Gilmore became Principal of MHCCS, Parish Priest of Holy Innocents’ Parish, in charge of the Salesians residing in Matadi.On 4th August, among the 16 Salesian Novices who made their first profession were two Liberians: Sunday Williams and Albert Gibson who make the difficult journey during the civil disturbances.The Rector Major Fr. Pasqual Chavez visited Liberia Salesian presences from 19th to 21st November 2004. The DBYC Cultural troupe danced and sang traditional songs. On the second day Fr Chavez visited the community of Matadi, home of the ever lively Don Bosco Youth Centre.  He was given a white chicken – symbolising peace and purity of hearth towards him while in Liberia. He was also given the key of Matadi community as another sign of welcome. From the welcome site they marched to DBYC’s gates with colourful T-shirts, printed for the occasion. A Mass, concelebrated by 9 priests, followed.A gift that came with the visit of the Rector Major was his donation of a good amount to start a new building of 8 classrooms and offices for Mary Help of Christians Catholic School children in Matadi. Year 2005 The Salesians accommodated in New Matadi are now Fr. Chukwudi  Akubuese, and Fr Larry  as Parish Priest of HIP and Principal of MHCCS. Catechist of HIP  is Mr. Michael Sowah. With one computer and three students, the computer class started in late August 2014.  By June 2005 there were 5 computers.  The Salesian subsidized the trainees (students, workers, unemployed, community members, and some staff members from Don Bosco Homes)In late July 2005, Carlos De Carcer of Red Deporte Y Cooperacion (RDC)  expressed the RDC’s desire to work with Sean Devereux Don Bosco Youth Centre in Matadi Monrovia.  After consultation with the Provincial Fr. Castellino Riccardo and the Rector Fr. Harry O’ Brien it was accepted. Year 2006 In 2016 Deacon Fidelis Agbara joined the Salesians working in New Matadi taking the tasks left by Fr Chukwudi. A memorable visit took place: the mother of Sean Devereux, Mrs. Maureen Devereux, Sally Hounsham and Fr. Joe Brown arrived in Liberia in late January to participate at first memorial event marking what Liberians now call the yearly “Sean Devereux Day”.   The Sean Devereux-Don Bosco youth Centre Matadi marching band backed the carnival-like procession through the Monrovia streets.A Computer Village, to develop the human resources of youth in and around Matadi is established at Sean Devereux Don Bosco Youth Centre. It was running five class session daily, using 16 computers with 41 students and operating in a cosy air condition room under the supervision of the Youths Director  Rev. Fr. Chukwudi Akubueze.On August 2006 Fr. Chuks Akubueze leaves Liberia and moves to Sunyani Ghana, to be Socio in the Novitiate of AFW Province. He left a lot of programmes, in town, and in New Matadi: Don Bosco Computer Village, Youth Centre Library, Salesian Youth Movement SYM (comprising 19 active youth groups), New Matadi Shrine, Hill of Oratory, Model of youthful Beatitudes, Oratory Studio and Communication, etc. . .The Catholic Church in Liberia turned 100 years old in October 2006 and thanks to myriads of missionaries and lay collaborators, the Church is found in most parts of the country positively responding to the spiritual, social, and humanitarian needs of the people. The SDB has reached seven of Liberia’s 15 countries including Moserrado, Bomi, Margibi, Grand Bassa, Bong, Nimba, and Grand Gedeh. Together with corps of Liberian co-workers, they have assisted scores of needy people and empowered others through academic, vocational, and tertiary education. Some SDB institutions are Don Bosco Homes, Sean Devereux Don Bosco Youth Centre, Don Bosco Technical Elementary and High School, and Mary Help of Christians Elementary School. They also administer Holy Innocents and St. Joseph’s Parishes. The erstwhile Don Bosco Rehab and Skills Training Program, St. Francis High and Parish in Nimba County, and the renamed Don Bosco Polytechnic were also administered by the SDB. Year 2007 The  Salesians working in New Matadi in 20107 are Fr. Larry Gilmore,  Edwin Tangie as traineeDeacon Agbara Fidelis.A walk, indoor program, and outdoor sports characterised the Sean Devereux’s Day celebration. Fr. Joe Brown and Mr. Mc Grory came from England.  On the 5th January they went all around in Monrovia  to distribute more than 1000 SD t-shirts to the participant and different groups. On 6th January the march started with about one thousand persons from 8th Street. It took a few hours to get Sean Devereux-DBYC New Matadi. At the arrival the participants met various guests. Speaker was Mr Joseph N. Y. Tucker, a man who knew Sean Deverux very well, and worked and travelled with him to many parts of Liberia. Year 2008 The year 2008 saw the Deacon Agabara Fidelis going to Nigeria Akure, to be ordained Priest, before to come back and continue to take the task of youths in charge. With a numerous group of animators and youths of Liberia he participated to the AFW Youth Forum in Ghana. As they were going by road, the driver lost the control of the bus and everybody finished inside a bush ... miraculously no one got serious injure.On 12th November 2008 Fr. Jose Valiplackel represented the Salesians in signing the contract to build Two Storeys eight classrooms block on the New Matadi Campus. Unfortunately the Jay Engineering & Construction Company JECCCO) fails to continue the works just after coming out of the foundations... Year 2009 Because of the not strong health, Fr Fidelis Agbara moved to 8th Street Community in accommodation, Fr. Matthew Udoka is assigned to New Matadi as in charge of Youths but can arrive only in the early months of 2010. In August 2009 arrive in Matadi as Second Year Practical Trainee Solomon Gbaki, a salesian vocation of Sierra Leon.On December 2009 the Architect Robert A. Gray prepares a new bill of Quantity to take the abandoned project and continue the works. This time the construction of the building is awarded to Liberia-China United Investment Croup (LCUIG). Year 2010 Fr. Matthew Udoka arrives in March 2010 and takes the task of Director of the Sean Devereux Don Bosco Youth Centre. Main Collaborators of the Salesians are chosen Mr. Abel Obarakpor as vice-chairman of Holy Innocent Paris and Mr. Otello S. Williams as Vice Principal of Mary Help of Christians Catholic School.The new Construction Company also fails to continue the works as they make the columns after casting the second floor.  Year 2011 The group of salesians residing in Matadi doesn’t change: Fr Larry Gilmore (Salesian Presence in charge, HIP Parish Priest, Principal of MHCCS), Fr. Matthew Udoka (DBYC in Charge) , from July 2010 the Trainee Salesian Student Josephat Ike Nwugo joins the group of Salesians living in Matadi.In MARY Help of Christians Catholic School Mr. Alfred Tefleh, who also helps in the animation of Youth Centre and in teaching catechism to children preparing for the first Communion, acts as Dean of Students Youth meeting in Sierra Leon.  Fr Matthew participate to Youth World Day in Spain.A report of January 2011 states that the Salesians lost about 63.000.00USD from the money paid to the two contractors which didn’t finished the works.  Fr. Matthew Udoka obtained a new sum of money and worked very hard, together with Mr. Petersin Toe one of our parishioner expert in building construction and carpentry, who will create later the ERAMITOE CONSTRUTION COMPANY (ECC) INC., to make the stair case of the new School building and to complete the roof.  Year 2012    Fr. Larry receives the obedience to be Rector of Lungi in Sierra Leon and  Fr. Nicola Ciarapica, which spent twenty two years of his priesthood in Nigeria, is assigned to New Matadi community and arrives in August 2012. He will thake the task to be in charge of Salesian Presence- HIP, Parish Priest, Administrator and in charge of vocations, Fr. Mattew Udoka continues to be DBYC Director and acting as Principal of Mary Help of Christians Catholic School, Second Year Trainee Student Josephat Ike Nwugo. Rector of the Salesians in Monrovia continue to be Rev.Fr. Lionel Xavier.  Catechist of HIP continues to be Mr.Michael Sowah Sr., Vice Chairman of HIP Parish Council being Mr. Abel Obarakpor,  Vice Principal of MHCS being Mr. Otello S. Williams.Fr Matthew participate to Youth World day in Spain.            A great and magnificent celebration is organised in New Matadi when the young Salesian Albert Gibson makes his final Salesian Profession, before to go to make his Theological Studies for priesthood in Rome.  Some Aspirants to the Salesian life starts to leave in the mission.,; they join the community in the prayer time table and have some regular lessons.            From 29th August to 3rd September Fr. Guillermo Luis Basanes, carries out in the name of the Rector Major, the Extraordinary Visitation to the Salesian Community of Monrovia. In his letter left to the salesians he write: “... the salesian community of Monrovia is in a naturl and gradual process of becoming two independent religious community”. During the year Matadi presence elaborated his different articulated Community life project and a relative economical independence as Father Basanez recommended.                         Mr. James Perry, Managing Director of J.P.A. Construction agrees to finish the works of MHCCS in 3 months, under the supervision of Fr. Jose Valiplakel the economer of the salesians in Liberia. Meanwhile he was following the elevation of the third floor of the Don Bosco Technical High School in 8th Street and the new Our Lady of Lebanon Church.A new electric pomp of water well is bought and the rusty water pipes repaired so from the main tank the water could reach all the compound.  External electrical current line for the night is connected. This has been necessary because Matadi quarter has not yet receiving the National Electric current and there is only a small generator that can generate no more than 2.5 KVA.  For movements of Matadi Salesian presence an old Nisan blue pickup has been provided.   Year 2013              On July 2013 the Rector Major and his council officially approved the Salesian Presence in Matadi as Salesian House Canonical Erected . Bl. Stephen Sandor, to be beatified in October 2013 was chosen as Patron of the new Community.               Fr. Nicola Ciarapica is now Rector-Economer- Parish Priest, Fr. Mattew Udoka is Vice-Retor and Principal of MHCCS, Deacon Raphael Airoboman joins from March 2013 to take help in the DBYC, and in July the Trainee Student James Acheampong takes the tasks of Josephat Nwogu.              3rd March: MHCCS new building with 8 classes, chemistry lab, Library and some offices are completed and inaugurated. The first group of Students completes the grade 12 and take the WAEC national exam. All the student pass the exam and the School Mary Help of Christians is awarded with the third highest results in Liberia!            In April 2013 the SYM youths of Liberia – Sierra Leon held their Forum (150 SYM participants) in New Matadi compound.                  On 6 July 2013 Fr Raphael Airoboman is ordained priest in Lagos- Nigeria and coming back takes the tasks of Youths Director of the Don Bosco Youth Centre-Oratory in Charge.              All the electrical underground distribution System is renewed and a Generator of 19 KVA is bought.            A blog for web site is open It will be very useful to make the life of the mission known and shared especially with the monthly communication news-letter and  the photo-gallery. Year 2014  On February the mother of Sean Devereux returns to visit Liberia and also Matadi. She is received by the Oratorians inside the Multy-purose Hall donated by the NGO Sean Devereux. On March the Ebola Virus enters in North Liberia. The contagious will spread through Liberia and on June will reach the capital Monrovia, only on 2015 Liberia could be free of it, after many efforts and loosing more than 10,000.00 human lives. The school could just finish the academic year, the graduation has been postponed. Fr. Matthew meanwhile is transferred to Ashaiman Ghana. At the beginning of August Fr. Solomon Gbaki, who is ordained priest in Sierra Leon on 18th July, joins the Mission. He takes the task of Principal of Mary Help of Christians Catholic School. The beginning of the school academic year is moved to 2015 because of the emergency polices to face the Ebola Virus. It has been possible to organize with enthusiasm the Holiday Camp 2014, in which 9 voluntaries from Poland participate. They had the chance to return to Poland just a few days before the closing of the airport and the 3 months emergencies polices would be issued.The priestly ordinations of Deacon Albert Gibson planned for the second half of August has been cancelled and rescheduled to new date to be communicated.From November 2014 Fr. Airboman Raphael accepts the task to be Parish Priest as he continues to be in charge of the DBYC. As vice-chairman of Holy Innocents Parish, is chosen Mr. Fernando Gbozuah.James Acheampong is doing his second year as practical Trainee, doing his service expecially in animating the DBYC, the 14 Don Bosco clubs throughout and around Monrovia town.SYM Animators of DBYC and HIP CYO are committed in Ebola prevention and Ebola affected people assistance.  Generously they organized seminars to be prepared and qualified to inform population how to prevent and defend from Ebola decease, how to take care of the sick. With courage and constancy they visited from house to house the families distributing means and chloride to people even to the families living in the swamp area. By the God protection and by the covering mantle of the Virgin Mary, no one got sick.With the financial help send by the Rector Major has been organized and financed a project to assist with food, health information, prevention, assistance, education 200 students of Matadi and 500 families tied with our Mission. From Salesian Mission New Rochelle USA, we received 2 containers of enriched Rice during 2014 and other 2 Containers in 2015. The Mission organized the distribution to the families most in need to take care of the children.             Promoted by Fr Solomon Gbaki the Divine Mercy Devotion starts in HIP Matadi.  From November 2014 a chosen group of our collaborators accepted to start the Salesian Cooperator formation journey in Matadi.            Daily Adoration to the exposed Blessed Sacrament is introduced in Holy Innocent Parish, and a walking rosary prayer with youths children and adults at 6:00 pm in the afternoon is promoted by a group of Mass Servants.            The Sean Devereux Hall is provided with all around shadow to prevent also rain disturbing activities.             A cafeteria for MHCCS student is finally roofed as an old near container is transformed in shop selling room.  Year 2015               Only at the beginning of the year has been possible to open the registration for the academic year, the classes started in February and ended in July with only one Semester, but was not possible to organize WAEC exam by the Governament.             During the year the Vice-Principal Mr. Otello Williams ended his work with Mary help of Christians Catholic School and the Maths teacher and Registrar  Mr Peter Mahn is now the Vice-Principal of the School.            Emmanuel Ilodigwe a young Salesian from Nigeria who concluded the third year philosophy in Ibadan is appointed to Matadi to do his practical Training. In October is celebrated the Priestly Ordination of Fr. Alfred Gibson the second Liberian Salesian who reached the priesthood. As young boy during the war, he grown up in the DBYC Matadi, being his mother living just back to the Matadi Salesian fence.             Reuben Doeyou a young boy who graduated with the first bunch of MHCCS 2013, joins in Ondo-Nigeria the Salesian Pre-novitiate program. He will make his first profession in Sunyani on 8 September 2016. Meanwhile two salesian aspirants: Berrian Androvish and Johnson Patrick are following a program for discernment in Matadi and on September they join the program in Ondo. 50 DBYC SYM Animators and youths of DBYC participate to SYM AFW Youth Forum in Ghana.The Holy Innocents Matadi Foundation get the incorporated is Liberia promote the scholarship program.  With the contribution of the Retor Major donation and many others benefactors local and from abroad more than 200 students are subsidies to pay school to complete the basic formation. In Rome, the Fondazione Don Bosco nel Mondo promotes a fund raising for Liberian children affected by Ebola Virus contagious, Orphans, single parent children.             Two rooms are constructed and attached to Community house are building, using a space between the HIP Church and the building where the confreres are accommodated. The Community has now a Room for visitors and can also offer a rest room for guest.            Fr. Solomon Gbaki launches with success his first CD Album of Songs.             In November the Holy Innocent Parish Pastoral Council approve finally the drawing of the restructuring of HIP Church building that will have a large area to accommodate more faithful, an higher roof and ceiling to give more light and air, offices for the Parish, and a perpetual adoration chapel.  Year 2016              The compositioin of the Community remains almost the same. Emmanuel Ilodibe, the young Salesian in practical training, who presented the application for “Mission ad Gentes”, is called to Rome and Turin – Italy, to participate to a missionary formation course before to receive the Missionary Cross and receiving the obedience to join the Salesians in Hungary. Emmanuel Onyike is arriving for his first year practical training to take his tasks in the Community, MHCCS, DBYC, HIP...            A memorable day is the visit of the Rector Major Angel Fernadez Artime to Liberia salesians presences and also Matadi. On the morning of the 3rd February the students and Staff participate to the Mass and cultural activities in 8th Street, in the afternoon, at 3:30 PM, arriving in New Matadi he meets a community of families in the swamp area, inaugurates one of the three water wells with manual pomp the Salesian Cooperators have built for the people of the area, and blesses the children.            At 4:00 PM he enter solemnly in the DBYC compound and spends more than one hour with the youths, animators, HIP Parishioners, Relatives of the children who beneficiated of the donations of the Rector Major during Ebola crisis. At 6:00 PM he joins the presents to pray the walking rosary and in the Church, he receives the Promise of the 9 first Salesian cooperators in Matadi (Philip Senayon, Abu Patrick, Flomo Jones, Manuel Darious, Nyemah Lee, Sesay Hawa MUnahi, Tefleh Alfred, Toe Elizabeth Angel, Toe Petersin).In the evening he meets with the salesians confreres and the Salesians Cooperators and gives the Good Night.The works restructuring the Church building starts soon after the visit of the Rector Major, meanwhile the congregation will use the Sean Devereux multi-purpose hall to celebrate their sacraments.            After the May Marian Month of May, on the feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, nine persons,  among the parishioners and Don Bosco Youths Centre officially start  the ADMA group (Association Devotees of Mary Help of Christians) in Matadi.             There is continuity in the accompaniment of the Salesians vocations and one aspirant Edward Kwame Boateng joins the discernment year in the pre-novitiate of Ondo.In July the SYM  DBYC New Matadi President Flomo Jones is chosen to represent the Salesian Liberian Youth to the WYD in Poland.For the first time the Matadi House Annual Plan is prepared with the contribution of a chosen group of our collaborators and the Community Salesian Pastoral Council is formed. September 2016 marks the 25 years anniversary since the first salesians started to operate in New Matadi site. In the annual plan has been decided to make all the year 2016-2017 events under this celebration.Also in the academic year 2015-2016 the Salesian in Matadi struggle to support children to go to school and complete their basic formation, preventing to remain on the streets. TThe project to provide food, health facilities access, education to 200 children and to subsidize 50 poor families is funded by FONDAZIONE DON BOSCO NEL MONDO  and many other benefactors (among them John Mander, Associazione Alberto Pacella, SERMIT – Progetti d’Amore, Dario Scagnetti, Holy Innocent Matadi Foundation ... ) The MHCCS is building the room for its Staff and Teachers and a computer room with 24 PC is provided. The Salesian Missions – New Rochelle organization, send a 40 feet container filled with school furniture.             Year 2017 In May 6th, the mission celebrated the re-dedication and consecration of the Holy Innocent Parish.  The realization of the project has been made possible with the efficient work of animation and motivation of the Parish Priest Fr. Raphael Airoboman. Almost all the expenses have been covered with the local Liberian contributions. Some constructions near the Church building are eliminated to create a courtyard in front of the  building and to give a better view.            The Parish elects the members of the HIP Parish Council and chooses as new Vice-Chairman Parish Pastoral Council in the person of Mr. Henry Wilson.             The Mary Help of Christians Catholic School form a musical band with beautiful uniform and Don Bosco Youth Centre renew its marching band with the contribution of benefactors from USA- Salesian Mission New Rochelle.            Holy Innocents Matadi Foundation subsidizes 206 children in the academic year 2016-2017 with the contribution of the money raised with the “Corsa dei Santi 2015 – Fondazione Don Bosco nel Mondo Roma, and many other local and over-see benefactors.            In August Fr. Raphael Airoboman is chosen to be Rector of Bl. Sandor New Matadi Community as Fr. Nicola Ciarapica is moving to the Sunyani Novitiate Community.             A new salesian priest Rev. Fr. Ephraim Onwuzulu is assigned to complete the Salesian Community.



14th May, 2017 by don Nicola Ciarapica


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