Despite Nairobi's chilly, wintery weather, my heart is warm as we finalise the leadership transition at JCAM. I want to put this transition under the sign of hope understood, let us say it right away, as a continuation of the momentum of a fire that is enkindled at Africama House under the exceptional leadership of Father Agbonkhianmeghe Orobator, the outgoing President.
The theme of hope is dictated by the context of a world marked by the resurgence of wars and other forms of violence, particularly in Africa, with the recent tensions in Sudan and the coup d’état in Niger. This gloom is reinforced by a world economic crisis which reduces our already modest means and thus unravels the social fabric by buttressing misery. No one is spared. In such a context, let us ask our Father Ignatius what his reasons for hope were when he initiated, in Paris and Venice, a spiritual conversation with his friends on the troubled situations of that time. Saint Ignatius, with his companions, did not have ready-made answers. He did not seek the beaten track. He took, with faith and hope, the bold path of uncertainty.
Where can we find hope to help us through today? It certainly comes from God, who is at work, despite our frailty. But it is also nourished by an exceptional Jesuit, Father Agbonkhianmeghe Orobator, S.J. I pay tribute to him and express our gratitude on behalf of all the Jesuits of Africa and Madagascar.
Indeed, from my first meeting with Father Orobator, in 1989, I was struck by the quality of his presence. I cannot disclose all of his exceptional traits as he is too humble to allow it. However, he has a remarkable ability to support those in need, especially those experiencing difficulty. He has responded to the calls of our Conference and the Universal Society, on several occasions and in various ways, and his dedication to his job makes everything seem easier around him. For me, his radiant presence has always been a source of encouragement and a reason for hope.
Africama House constitutes the undeniable guarantee of this hope. "To build, you have to live", say the philosophers. When Father Orobator took over as President of JCAM, the team was split between three locations: Riara, Kangemi, and Karen. Together with the entire team, he was able to create a peaceful and productive workspace within a short period of time. Africama House is not just a physical building but a spirit that has significantly transformed our Conference. Over time, it has become a place where people come together to connect and share the Universal Society's mission and values without any hesitation or reservations. We have created a welcoming community that serves as a hub for exchanging ideas and experiences.
Father Orobator, we would like to express our gratitude to you for enkindling the flame of hope within us. May this hope guide you towards the new horizons that the mission of our Lord calls you to. We offer our prayers to you and want to express our heartfelt gratitude and well wishes for your future endeavours. Thank you, and good luck!
Regarding the Conference we envision, our goal is to ensure that Africama House is fully equipped to address the diverse challenges of our modern world. May the wind of hope, guided by the intercession of Mary, Our Mother and Saint Ignatius, inspire us as the Conference of Africa and Madagascar to continue advancing in the mission of Our Lord.
Once again, happy feast of Saint Ignatius!
Fr. José Minaku Lukoli, SJ
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