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Don Bosco Matadi - Monrovia

Home for the young



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





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