Basankusu, DR Congo: Celebrating the Centenary of the Parish of Simba

Celebrating the Centenary of the evangelization of the Parish of Saint Joseph SIMBA in the Diocese of Basankusu

The sun rose in the east of the Diocese and its light spread over all the Bongando people; This is how I can summarize the story of the proclamation of the Good News in the parish of  Simba. Father Adolphe Gutersohn MHM summed up this beautiful story by referring to Psalm 86. And his words are the subject of a longando song: “Simba, Simba, Simba ayali, bol’onok’iso otwaka isatu” – this is our village where we were all born. Simba Parish is the first parish of the Bongando and its influence has spread throughout the Bongando region on both sides of the Lopori River. Teachers from Simba served in the parishes of Yalisele, Lingomo, Yamboyo and Djolu, but they also went to Yahuma and Loleka. So, this is the ‘alma mater’, the mother parish. To this day, people speak of missionary work (teaching, evangelization, health, social work) with esteem and gratitude.

The Bishop’s pastoral journey to celebrate this event took place by river. Yes, the motorized canoe which took the Bishop and his delegation to Simba followed the Lopori river from Basankusu to the port of Lopori over a distance of more than 700 km. All along this long journey, the Bishop carried out pastoral activities with the Christians along the way – in the Holy Trinity deanery and  the Sacré-Cœur parish of Yamboyo (celebration of the Eucharist, meetings with parish teams, meeting with different groups as needed, giving the sacraments, etc.). The ports which welcomed and lodged the Bishop are: Libia for the parish of Kodoro, Djombo for the parish of Djombo, Bongandanga and Liango for the parish of Saint Dominic / Bongandanga., Bolafa and Lokelenge for the parish of Sacré-Coeur / Yamboyo.

The first village where we celebrated the centenary was Boonde in the province of Thsuapa, in the parish of Simba. People came from Yoseki-de Lokombo (all the Bakeli grouping but also from Djolu) to experience the event. They were numerous and joyful. In the celebration, an elder told the story of Boonde’s evangelization. The missionaries were vividly remembered, and their action greatly appreciated. Several benefited from the sacrament of confession and the Mass in the shed was well animated. The offerings were abundant (money, goats, chickens, fish, vegetables … The weary travellers found a welcome resting place. The exchanges with the young people were also enriching, they spoke about the frequent cases of violence in the region today.

We left Boonde to join the Lopori river and continue the journey to the Lopori / Simba port which we reached on 11/17/2021 at 3:00 p.m. There were many Christians who came to welcome their Bishop. They sang the songs of the centenary and danced with palms in hand. They are also the ones who transported the luggage to the Catholic mission.

The main theme of this pastoral journey was: the fight against the mounting violence in the region: houses are being burnt down, people are being killed, young people resort to fetishes to escape armed repression by the police. Sister Félicité MBOMBE went to Djolu to animate a radio program with the theme: growing in humanity, a way to counter hostility and violence. The exchanges with the different sections of the population were very encouraging because people need peace and the young people expressed their decision to leave the world of fetishes and to work together for the promotion of peace.

Mokambi (Lay minister) André Paul asked the Bishop to consider providing Simba with the benefits of a permanently resident priest because the parish has depended on visiting priests  for 57 years now, but there are dimensions in the life of Christians that are not sufficiently supported.

These days of joy brought together people from different parishes of the deanery of the Apostle Saint Bartholomew and neighboring parishes (Yahuma and Basoko). It all happened in peace and joy.

Sister Félicité MBOMBE.

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