The mission for me has been, it is and it will continue being an unforgettable and unique experience. It is a sensation of happiness and fullness that cannot be compared with any of the luxuries that we have in the daily life. The mission entails many nice experiences in spite of the challenges that also comprise of a life missionary. The experience missionary is pronounced as newness of life in all the dimensions of the personal and communitarian existence. It must be also an exit to the encounter of the people, the communities and all the town of God, to communicate to them and to share with them the good news of the Gospel, the love and the kindness of God.
Arrival and Welcome: I was ordered in 2010, but before my sacerdotal arrangement already it had been named to work in the province of Spain. After my sacerdotal arrangement I worked two years as coadjutor in a espiritana parish, in the provincial one of the South-east, in Nigeria, my country of origin. It was the time during which I was preparing my documents to obtain the visa for Spain, something that was not to me far from easy. There were so many protocols that to follow, so many papers that to fill up that my arrival to Spain was delayed and raised to me if it were worth the trouble. It was, also, an important experience.
Finally I could leave for Spain and I arrived day 13 of June of 2012, almost four years ago. Two espiritanos went to receive me to the airport of Madrid and they took me to the house of espiritana formation, in street Geraniums of Madrid. The members of that one community along with the superior of the province of Spain P. Vctor Cabezas welcomed to me very well. I arrived at Spain in summer, but I did not have much difficulty in adapting to the heat, because the climate of summer in Spain is similar to the one of my earth. In Madrid I studied the Spanish language, in an academy of languages, during three months. And after learning the basic thing of the language I spent a month in each one of the three espiritanas communities. Sincerely, during that time I had very good experiences. My stay and experience in those communities, including the one of the formation house, helped me to know the espiritanos of the province of Spain personally, and they also helped me to share in the communitarian life of each espiritana community. In fact, for me it has not been easy to learn the Castilian language. When more insurance with the language already felt a little to me, the provincial advice named for the espiritana community of Cordoba, city located in the south of Spain, Andalusia.
I arrived at the mentioned community day 5 of January of 2013 and their members welcomed to me well. But when arriving at Cordoba I was with another form to speak Spanish. This was a shock for me because at the home of my stay in Cordoba I did not understand much the accent of the Cordovans, but just a short time later I began to understand it and I went away accustoming to its form to speak. It was a time in which there were many moments of boredom because it did not have any concrete work that to do, although I collaborated during a certain time at work on watch Set of Animation Missionary (SCAM). Then, as it did not have many things that to do, I took advantage of that time to improve my knowledge on the Spanish language.
My work in the parish: I was appointed by the Bishop of the diocese of Cordoba coadjutor of the parish of San Acisclo (Valdeolleros) in the city of Cordoba. Officially, I began to work in is parish day 1 of September of 2013. The parish priest of the parish, don Francisco Aguilera Jim©nez welcomed to me or and the parishioners tried to me very or. In this parish we have two daily masses, one in the morning and another one in the evening, of Monday to Saturday, and Sunday we have four masses. In fact, I am very happy with the people of this parish, are good people with an open and simple heart.
In the parish there are many groups that work perfectly. It is an organized good parish. There, we have the group of Caritas, Manos Unidas, Pastoral of the health, of catechists, groups of the familiar Assemblies. The groups of pastoral action meet to the week once, each one of the groups of marriages meet every fifteen days, and the familiar assemblies once a month do it, during one week concrete. All these groups are accompanied by the priests of the parish, next to a parishioner chosen as person in charge or coordinator of the group. As for me, I accompany a group by marriages, in addition work with the catechists who prepare to the children for the First Communion and visit some of the groups of the familiar Assemblies. Also development a special task in the Pastoral of the health, since not only I accompany to the group, with which I meet three times to the month, and visit patients, but we celebrated a monthly eucharist by the patients and with the patients, because to her they go ill of the parish and the district. The week does not need the exhibition of the Santsimo twice; Wednesdays in the morning and Thursdays in the evening. My companion, the parish priest don Francisco does the one of Wednesday and I do the one of Thursdays. The participation of the parishioners in the exhibition of santsimo has been wonderful.
Joys: In Spain, encounter people with a sincere heart, very amiable and very likeable people. It gives much joy me to work with them. There I am an alive and organized parish. A parish outpost in the communitarian life in which each person feels well important and welcomed. All collaborate freely in the activities of the parish. It is a parish in which people well are animated in the fight against the poverty, in the search by the human equality, mainly, in the communitarian and of life spiritual valuation of the people, in opposition to the individualism and the egoism that have grown much in this part of the world.
Culture and Challenges: Somehow, the culture of the Church in Spain is a little different from which I know in Africa. Being conscious that the universal Church is one and catholic one, but we cannot forget in fact that, in each country the ecclesiastical culture has its peculiar form to express itself. In my parish, the first communion demands a previous catechesis of two years, that are distributed during the school year. During those two courses all the Sundays a special mass of catechesis is celebrated for kids. When finalizing both courses, habitually take place the first communions in the month of May. He is worth the trouble to draw attention on the fact that once has been realised the ceremony of the First communion, each boy goes away, the dominical mass of the children finishes, and they return to the Church neither for the mass, nor for anything. That happens in almost all the parishes. Sincerely, that experience scared to me because I come from a culture where the majority of the children not only goes to mass all the Sundays and during the time of the catechesis for the first communion, and there the mass of the children always was full. But, here in my parish, although we have tried to animate to the parents so that they can let his children come to participate in the mass, the system follows equal.
In addition to this, I want to emphasize that we do not have young people in the parish. The majority of the parishioners is greater people. This is the situation of the Church in Europe. That is to say, at general level in the Church in Europe they lack young people. However, by our part, we have a plan to incorporate as rapidly as possible to the young people from the district to the parish.
During of the Easter there are processions, from Domingo de Ramos to Domingo de Resurrecci³n. It is an event that it attracts much people in Andalusia. These processions they are organized by brotherhoods that agglutinate much people, also to many young people, and last many hours. Each brotherhood organizes a procession with a passage of Jesus or the Virgin Maria or some other scene of the gospel, in which they leave numerous cofrades and to which it attends as spectators an enormous multitude of people. It is a spectacular event for all the town. In fact, the processions of the Easter have, in their origin, a sense of the explanation of the Christian faith by means of processional images on the street, today respond to a type of popular religiousness, because really to the town it likes these activities, but soon are no a truly Christian praxis. From my point of view, the processions affect the celebration of triduo negatively paschal, because the majority of the town goes out to see the processions leaving the church with very little people during the celebrations of triduo paschal. This gives much pain me because it darkens the future of the Church in this part of world. In any case, it is not necessary to complain much because it is the culture of the town that is expressed thus for many years.
Conclusion: one of the founders of the congregation of the Spirit Santo, (Espiritanos), Francisco Libermann says to the European missionaries that he sent to Africa: you do not go there to change the culture in Africa, but you go to live in its culture to attract to them close more the gospel of Christ. In the same way, my presence in Spain as missionary, mainly, is to share the love and the joy of the gospel of Christ with the town of God yet the respect that their culture and its form to live are deserved. Spain can be shelp that it is a catholic country. To tell the truth, theoretically yes, but actually it is not thus. In any case, it is necessary to do what it is possible to transmit the gospel from Jesus to the town being conscious of the real circumstances on the religious world in Spain and other parts of Europe.
Kingsley Eke, CSSp.