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    Buisson Ardent CICM Novitiate (1972-2022): Fifty Years of Fidelity and Perseverance

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    In the frontlineBy Prosper-B. Mbumba, cicm


    The CICM Novitiate in Mbudi celebrates its fiftieth anniversary in 2022. Indeed, after the first experience in Katoka, Central Kasai, from 1954 to 1964, the CICM Novitiate in Africa reopened in 1972 in the Kinshasa suburb of Mbudi. Cardinal Frederic Etsou, then Vice-Provincial of the CICM Province of Kinshasa and Elder of the African CICM, was a key figure in establishing the Mbudi Novitiate. Candidates would receive a missionary and religious formation that was authentically African, according to Msgr. Léonard Kasanda, Bishop Emeritus of the Diocese of Luiza (DR Congo) and the first Director of Novices at the Novitiate, known as the Buisson Ardent (Burning Bush). Initially founded for African candidates, this Novitiate is now one of only two in the world for our Congregation. The English-speaking second Novitiate is located in Taytay, Philippines.

    This Golden Jubilee culminated in the Eucharistic celebration on September 8, 2022, the feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, with the theme “Fifty Years of Fidelity and Perseverance for a Flame always Lit.” The Eucharistic celebration was presided over by Bishop Léonard Kasanda, and the sermon was delivered by our Superior General, Father Charles Phukuta. Several other CICMs were present to commemorate the Golden Jubilee, among others, the former Buisson Ardent Novitiate Directors of Novices, Msgr. Godefroy Mukeng’a Kalond, Archbishop Emeritus of Kananga (DR Congo) and the first African CICM priest; Msgr. Louis NKinga, Bishop Emeritus of Lisala (DR Congo), and Msgr. Ernest Ngombe, Archbishop of Mbandaka-Bikoro (DR Congo).

    In his homily, Father Charles encouraged the congregation and the ten Novices who were to take their first vows at the same time to trust in God who had called them and to make themselves available to listen to God, as Joseph and Mary had done:

    “Today’s Gospel, with its long genealogical list, leads to Mary, Joseph, and the Son of God made Man. But it is Joseph, the lowly Joseph, who is highlighted. Having learned that Mary was pregnant before they had even lived together, Joseph decides to divorce her: yet he will be gentle and careful with her, planning to separate from her in secret. And then, before Joseph can act, God intervenes in a dream and overturns Joseph’s decision. An angel tells him not to be afraid and to take Mary into his home. It was complex advice to follow. Yet, Joseph’s faith, control, and courage will prevail. Obeying the angel’s message, he will do what is right... Like Mary and Joseph, let us listen to God and our neighbor. Listening implies availability: let us air our lives and eliminate all kinds of clutter to make our hearts available.”

    In his jubilee address, the CICM Superior General emphasized the significance of the name given to this Novitiate, Buisson Ardent:

    “The name ‘Buisson Ardent’ is inspired by Exodus 3, when God called Moses through a burning bush and sent him to free his people, the Israelites, from slavery in Egypt. Through this burning bush, God proclaimed his name to Moses, YHWH. The burning bush is, therefore, a powerful symbol. It represents the miraculous energy of God, the sacred light, the illumination, and the heart burning with purity and love. It also means the reverence and awe of Moses before the divine presence... Like Moses, this place has become a sacred ground for hundreds of us, where we have discovered and deepened our CICM calling for the world.”

    During its half-century existence, the Buisson Ardent Novitiate welcomed and formed 669 Novices, some of whom went on to join the secular life. There are currently five bishops among the missionaries who were formed in this place, namely, Msgr. Philibert Tembo, Bishop of Budjala (DR Congo); Msgr. Ernest Ngombe; Msgr. Oscar Nkolo, Bishop of Mweka (DR Congo); Msgr. Félicien Ntambue, Bishop of Kabinda (DR Congo) and Msgr. Faustin Ambassa, Archbishop of Garoua (Cameroon). In addition, the Novitiate of Mbudi counts among its former Novices two Superiors General: Fathers Edouard Tsimba (2005–2011) and Charles Phukuta (2017 -).

    Finally, the Superior General expressed the hope that this Novitiate, as well as the one in Taytay, will continue to fulfill their noble vocation of forming religious missionaries capable of responding to the changing needs of the world and Church:

    “May God, the author of all good, help us in keeping this burning bush burning for many years to come. May the Buisson Ardent Novitiate in Mbudi and the Théophile Verbist Novitiate in Taytay, Philippines, grow in effectiveness and fulfillment of their high vocation and noble mission of forming future CICM religious missionaries through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Our Lord and Patroness of our Congregation.”   

    50 ans