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An altar call to service behind closed doors

By Jude Forbi SJ,

On Saturday, June 13, 2020, marked by generous rains, fourteen Jesuit scholastics of the Jesuit Conference of Africa and Madagascar (JCAM) were ordained deacons inside the chapel of the Jesuit Institute of theology (ITCJ) Abidjan, by Mgr. Jean Salomon LEZOUTIÉ, Bishop of the diocese of Yopougon – Côte d’Ivoire.

In light of the emergency and safety measures put in place by the Ivorian government in this time of the Coronavirus crisis, the celebration took place behind closed doors with mainly Jesuits within the Grand Abidjan area in attendance, all wearing face masks, gloves, and other protective gears. Family members and friends of the deacons could not be present due to lockdown restrictions across the provinces.

Despite the constraints, the ordination ceremony did not lose its joyful atmosphere given also the fact; it had been deferred several times. The uncharacteristic atmosphere was remarkably enriched by the homily of Bishop Jean Salomon LEZOUTIÉ, who relied on the readings of the day from the first book of Kings about the radical promptitude with which Elisha left the plough to follow Elijah in the service of the Lord, and on the Gospel passage of Mathew where Jesus told the disciples to say 'Yes' if they mean yes, and 'No' if they mean no. The prelate drew the attention of the deacons on the radical nature of discipleship and encouraged them to be men of great frankness. He commended the deacons for their journey thus far.

He thanked the rector and the formation team and expressed his sincere gratitude for the honor of inviting him to preside at this ordination. He pledged himself to be available whenever his assistance is needed in events like these. He spoke about St. Theresa of Avila who had a great admiration for the Jesuits, especially in spiritual direction. By the same token, he expressed his own admiration of the great spiritual heritage of the Society of Jesus. Talking to the deacons, he read an excerpt on the life of Anthony of Padua on whose feast day the diaconate ordination was scheduled. “Anthony of Padua was an extraordinary teacher and preacher of God’s Word,” he said, “he was peerless when it came to consoling and comforting the people of God.” He exhorted the new deacons to emulate the example of St Anthony of Padua in preaching the word and in consoling souls. He concluded by reminding the deacons that their vows are now even more official and as a new start they should be steadfast in prayer and be faithful to the Divine Office which unites their prayers to that of the whole church and sanctifies their every day.

After the ordination mass, everyone returned to continue the celebration with a reception.

ITCJ 2020 ORD 2

 

The fourteen newly ordained deacons are: 

1. RANDRIANOELISOA Rémi, SJ (Madagascar)
2. DJORE NABINE Antoine, SJ (Benin/AOC)
3. MUKENGERE Désiré, SJ (DR Congo, ACE)
4. RAZAFIMAHATRATRA Jeritiana, SJ (Madagascar)
5. KABORE Albert, SJ (Burkina Faso/AOC)
6. BOUTCHANG William, SJ (Cameroon/AOC)
7. NOUDJITOLOUM Théodore, SJ (Tchad/AOC)
8. MUSANTU Patrick, SJ (DR Congo/ACE)
9. AMADI Eziokwubundu (Nigeria/ANW)
10. ZOGBELEMOU Emmanuel, SJ (Guinea Conakry/AOC)
11. MUZINGA Emmanuel, SJ (DR Congo/ACE)
12. RAOTONIAINA Jean Marcel, SJ (Madagascar)
13. MADINUNGA Alain, SJ (DR Congo/ACE)
14. NTOUMOU-NTONDELE Marlon, SJ (Congo-Brazzaville/ AOC)