An Interview with Fr. Viktor Andereggen, M.S.

Editor: Fr. Victor’s responses to this 1993 interview can give us an appreciation of the complexity and dangerous and challenging nature of his ministry in Angola.

Can you tell me, Father Viktor, how the civil war affects the daily life of the people in Angola?

Untitled-1Fr. Viktor Andereggen, M.S., celebrates Mass with his people.In this tropical country, many people lived in the bush before the war. Political and racial persecutions brought people into the cities in search of security. Thousands were victims of guerilla warfare by UNITA and reprisals by government troops. Thirty-seven missionaries were killed, most of them native Angolans, and sixty-eight others were abducted.

After independence from Portugal, the Church, which had worked closely with the colonials, was greatly criticized by the new Marxist leaders. Possessions of all kinds, even schools and churches, were confiscated by the government. But during the war, the Church, siding with the common people, denounced the government's actions and championed the cause of human rights, peace and justice.

From what you say, the Church seems to be an important reality in this country.

That's right. 55% of the people are Catholic, 12% are Protestant. There is a real inter-faith solidarity, particularly in the area of charitable help.

Despite the years of persecution, there are 15 dioceses, 247 parishes and 3,486 mission posts. 18 Bishops are helped by 322 priests,1,025 sisters, and 93 brothers. There are over 135,000 catechists.

Read more: An Interview with Fr. Viktor Andereggen, M.S.

The Spirit Has Not Fallen Asleep

Editor: An impressive event from 1993 is shared by then-Fr. Donald Pelletier, M.S., which happened in our La Salette Mission in Madagascar.

Untitled-1Each year, January 7th is a very important Islamic holy day, the birthday of the Prophet Mohammed. The Moslem Community in Morondava – merchants, planters and small industrialists – wanted to do something important and they chose our Rehabilitation Center known as “The Beautiful Gate.”

At four o'clock in the afternoon, a motorcade arrived with civil authorities, police, video cameras and some thirty men, all fervent leaders of the Islamic Community. In a speech, their leader explained their faith in Mohammed and their joy for this holy day, which was the real reason that they wanted to help the project for the handicapped.

I thanked them and explained that there was no discrimination at the Center, whose goals are for a total and complete rehabilitation of all forms of the physically and mentally handicapped. In Goujherrati, one of the Center's young men thanked the Islamic Community in the name of all the children.

Read more: The Spirit Has Not Fallen Asleep

Christmas in the Madagascar Bush

For most of us, Christmas is a word that is loaded with Untitled-1Santa Claus, called "Dadabe Noely", speaks with the younger Malagasy childrentremendous meaning. No doubt our minds are flooded with all sorts of wonderful images and memories. All our senses are jammed with a myriad of sights, sounds, smells and messages. Many of these are shaped and formed as much by our culture as by scripture.

For example, the first time I spent Christmas alone in the bush country of Madagascar, I suffered from a massive dose of cultural shock. Since Christmas is in the rainy season I had to go on foot and canoe rather than take the Jeep. It was hot, humid and very muddy – no snow! Mosquitoes and other “little nasties” did not readily put me into a Christmas mood.

I spent Christmas Eve and Christmas day in a small, isolated village. I slept on the mud floor in the sacristy of our tiny dilapidated doorless church. This was a predominately pagan village with only a handful of Catholics.

The people insisted that we have a Midnight Mass. But, as it their custom, they began singing Christmas carols around 9:00 PM. The children had made a crib made out of local clay. There was Mary and Joseph and naturally Jesus. These figures were surrounded not only by an ox, donkey and a few cows but also by a myriad of ombies (malgasy cattle) – a sign of wealth, riches and royalty.

Read more: Christmas in the Madagascar Bush

October is Mission Awareness Month

Recently I was reading about St. Paul’s missionary experiences in his second letter to the Christians at Corinth (11:18, 21-30). Wow! Now there was a wonderfully inspiring Mission Newsletter for the folks back home.


Paul’s Challenges in Ministry

Untitled-1(from left) Timothy, Titus and BarnabusHe was imprisoned, lashed five times and beaten with rods three times. Once he was stoned and on three occasions he was shipwrecked. And on top of all this he traveled thousands of miles on foot always under the threat of robbers, the Roman authorities, the pagans, Jewish leaders and he even experienced difficulties and tensions with some of his own fellow believers. He knew hunger, thirst, heat and cold. And during all these hardships while he was establishing new churches, he was expected to earn his keep by making tents. It is no wonder that we hold St. Paul in such high esteem. Truly he was a great missionary.


Supporters in Paul’s Ministry

Read more: October is Mission Awareness Month

Fr. Bernie Baris Moves to Holy Mountain

BREWSTER, Mass. — As a seminarian at La Salette Seminary in East Brewster, Father Bernard Baris, M.S., remembered singing in the choir for the first official Mass celebrated at Our Lady of the Cape Parish on Christmas Eve in 1962.
Untitled-1Fr. Baris standing at the actual site of the La Salette Apparition in France (photo: Kenneth J. Souza, Anchor Staff)“Father Joseph A. Nolin, who was the founder of the parish, didn’t have a choir… so he asked some of the seminarians to come and sing for the midnight Mass,” Father Baris told The Anchor. “I came from the seminary here along with some of my other classmates — including Father André Patenaude (‘Father Pat’) — to sing for that first Mass. Standing up in that choir loft inside a church that wasn’t even finished yet, I never thought I’d someday return here to become pastor.”

In 1997, Father Baris was indeed named pastor of Our Lady of the Cape Parish, a place he’s called home for the past 17 years.

Moving to the Holy Mountain in France

Now at age 71, when many priests are beginning to think about retirement, Father Baris is preparing to enter a whole new phase of his ministry by becoming the director of the International Shrine of Our Lady of La Salette in France, built on the original site in the French Alps where the Blessed Mother appeared to Maximin Giraud and Melanie Calvat on Sept. 19, 1846.

Read more: Fr. Bernie Baris Moves to Holy Mountain

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