“Revealed them to the little ones...”

Fr. Santiago Canals, EP

Recent Vatican statistics indicate the African continent as the place with the highest growth in the number of Catholics in recent years. Numbering among the many missionaries from different religious Orders and Congregations that Providence has sent to sow the seeds of Faith in these lands of hope are the Heralds, active in South Africa, Angola, Cameroon, Rwanda and Mozambique.

We will focus our attention, in these pages, on Mozambique, where the Heralds have a flourishing house and a church at an advanced stage of construction in Maputo, the capital.

Souls open to the marvellous

Those who have had the opportunity to personally experience the Mozambique reality have doubtless perceived, in the atmosphere and in the people, a certain mystery – a type of openness to the marvellous and to the supernatural, which sparks a communicative joy and a respect full of admiration for everything that is in some way superior.

Even in situations of extreme material want, it is hard to find sad, sullen or dejected faces. On the contrary, whoever takes a walk through the streets finds a generalized climate of lightness and good humour, as if nothing were lacking. With the richness of expression proper to them, not so much by words as by
their bearing, smile, manners, and determination, they transmit a precious life lesson, demonstrating that the goods of this world are fleeting and those who lack them, or are not attached to them, are truly happy. It is little wonder that one priest, after a missionary tenure in Maputo, summed up his stay in those lands
with these words: “I came here to preach, and I received an unexpected sermon.”

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Helping pastors and missionaries

The Heralds’ house in Maputo is located in Nkobe, one of the poorest neighbourhoods of the city, situated within a large parish entrusted by the Archdiocese to the care of the Carmelite fathers, who count on the help of Herald priests for Sunday celebrations even in distant communities.

Silvestre Salomão Langa, pastoral assistant at Our Lady of Carmel Community in Holy Mother of God Parish in Khongolote, describes some features of the Heralds’ pastoral efforts on these occasions: “As parishioners, we would like to acknowledge the importance of the work carried out by the Heralds in the communities where they celebrate Sunday Masses. The faithful have sought the Heralds and benefitted from their dedication, flocking to Confession and receiving every sort of counsel and guidance. It is important to highlight that the Heralds have helped three communities, still without chapels constructed, with a donation of galvanized sheet metal to provide covering.”

He goes on to express his happiness at being able to contribute to this evangelization in a special way: “I am the father of a young Herald whom God called to His ministry, and who answered ‘yes’. We, as parents, joyfully accept that our youngest son join the other brothers in caring for the Lord’s flock. He is a special reference point, deepening our faith in God and strengthening our family ties. It was not easy to understand at first, but we admit that, after five years, we better understand this call and today we thank God first of all, and Msgr. João Scognamiglio Clá Dias, founder of the Heralds, and all the Herald brothers who formed him and live the Faith with him.”

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Youth who live, speak and sing the Word of God

The musical ensemble formed by the young Mozambican Heralds is one of the instruments of evangelization that most awakens the interest of this people who are so attracted by the harmony of sounds.

Every year, the band contributes embellishing the main religious event in the country, the pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima in Namaacha, seventy-two kilometres from the capital, on the feast days of May and October 13. The same type of collaboration is offered for parishes and religious groups that solicit the Heralds’ presence for solemnities and processions, as did the Salesians when the relics of St. John Bosco visited Mozambique. A Daughter of Mary Help of Christians, Sr. Orsolina Tachis, wrote to convey her gratitude: “I speak of the Heralds of the Gospel with a joy filled heart. Who are they? Young people dedicated to living, speaking and singing the Word of God, to living the message of Jesus, the message of salvation, hope, union, joy and peace. Their appearance, their way of walking, their very presence, speaks of the power of God they carry within them.”

She continues: “In 2012, the urn of Don Bosco was with us, visiting the Salesian houses and the parish where the Salesians of Don Bosco and the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians work. Don Bosco was welcomed, accompanied and honoured by the presence of the Heralds of the Gospel who were solicited for the event, and who, with their music and beautiful hymns of Don Bosco, carried the urn with harmony in their step, their instruments and their notes. To the Heralds of
the Gospel my congratulations and thanks for your presence and mission. May Mary Help of Christians bless and assist you always.”

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“The school has been praised for accepting the project”

Just as in other parts of the world, one of the means by which the Heralds in Mozambique contribute to the moral formation of youth and children is through the Future and Life Project. Visiting public and private educational institutions, they provide students with a time of socio-cultural recreation and offer free music lessons. And, even for the teachers and other school workers, this initiative often becomes a true invitation to conversion.

This is what occured with Carla Fumo, who teaches at a school visited by the project several years ago. The beautiful testimony, in which she and her husband, Samuel Machiana, recall the day in which they regularized their marital situation and baptized their youngest son, thanking the Heralds for having taught them to love Our Lady, concludes with these words: “The Heralds have expended great efforts towards the construction of our chapel, because the number of families increases daily as they discover the perfect divine service of the Heralds in Mozambique, in the salvation of souls being lost and tormented by worldly evils. We, Christian members of the Heralds’ family, continually ask God to grant the necessary graces to Mozambican families, and may the Heralds continue to establish true Marian devotion in our lives.”

Also having witnessed a project firsthand, school director Adélia Ezequias Massuanganhe registers her thankfulness for the salutary effect seen in the students: “I met the Heralds of the Gospel in Mozambique in 2012, when they launched the Future and Life Project in the primary school at which I was principal. They worked with many children through the different parts of their project, teaching them how to carry themselves, to be and to act. When the period of the project ended, many children had the privilege of being accepted to continue their formation in the Heralds’ Centre in Nkobe and they obtained the authorization of parents or caregivers, for participation in the activities at the Centre on Sundays. As the principal of the school I was deeply moved, for I saw the change in the students’ behaviour, at school and in society in general. They became models of punctuality, of academic progress and for their manner of addressing their teachers. The school has been
praised for accepting the Heralds’ project, and I often receive parents who, seeing the changes in the neighbour’s children, want to enrol their children here. We are enthused with the way the Heralds transmit Catholic fervour to Christians and families, and this passion led me to visit the Centre regularly in 2016 with the goal of practising true devotion to Our Lady.”

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“Several girls have come to the monastery”

The noblest fruits gathered in this youth apostolate are undoubtedly those destined for the seminaries and convents, and they appear much more often than might be imagined.

The Monastery of St. Clare of Assisi of Namaacha is one of the places that has received new vocations as a result of this process, as the Mother Superior, Sr. Cruz Maria, attests: “We wish to thank God for the presence in Mozambique of the slaves of Mary, her beloved sons, the Heralds of the Gospel. In a country where diverse religious beliefs abound, they are helping many people to return to the true Faith and enkin dling in them a tender and filial love for Our Lady. At this time in which the devil is creating such confusion and making so much noise to conquer souls throughout the world, they are providential for us, fighting and making sacrifices with great zeal to ransom souls for God.

“Many people come to our monastery to request our prayers. We appreciate their efforts in coming here from great distances, and we recommend that they visit the Heralds. It is wonderful to hear the testimony of those who go to their chapel and leave transformed, making a serious commitment to live a Christian life.

“We are also immensely grateful for the vocational work. Through them, several girls have already come to the monastery, and on July 16 of this year, one of them began her formation as a postulant.

“The living witness of the Heralds is necessary in Mozambique, not only in society, but also in the Church. Their way of living is a very striking example even for many priests and religious. Their spirituality attracts many people and encourages them to resist being dragged along by the fashions and enticements of the

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“A great gift Our Lady gave me”

Endowed with a lively intelligence and exceptional memory, Mozambicans thirst to know the truths of the Church and to learn more about God and His Blessed Mother. To satisfy this filial desire, preparation courses for consecration to Our Lady are offered, with classes given not only in the Heralds’ house and in parishes that request them, but also through the radio program Marian Hour, which is heard in several provinces of the country.

Herculano Rafael Machegane, who finished the course last year, describes his personal experience as follows: “Life without Mary and life with Mary: under this heading, I begin this narration to all the readers of the Heralds magazine. I would especially like to thank the Heralds family in Mozambique, for through them I have come to have a deeper devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. One day, I participated in a prayer vigil in the Community of St. Peter and St. Paul. The Heralds’ presence touched me so deeply that I decided to approach them, particularly the priest, to seek advice for my life, as I was going through various upheavals.”

The interesting testimony continues: “Two weeks later, I went to him with my family, for a blessing. The priest invited us to participate in the consecration course, and out of curiosity I asked one of the Heralds brothers how we would benefit from this. The answer was simple: ‘Enrol and participate, and you will see the benefits.’ There are no words to describe the changes we experienced. We made our consecration on December 8, 2017, and since then peace has reigned in our home; I became employed in public service and my wife also found work. Meeting the Heralds was a great gift Our Lady gave me, one that changed my life forever.”

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Goodwill and gratitude

Among the testimonies received from families of young Mozambicans who participated in the weekly programs in the Heralds’ house or who already live in the community, we chose that of Glicinia Cassamo, in which the goodwill and affability so typical of the people of this country stand out:

“My son considers the Centre as his own home, and for a child I think this says everything that can be said about a ‘house’, for children want to be where they are loved. He is the youngest of four brothers, and I see how much good his involvement in the project has done for him and for us. Today he is more secure, confident, fighting for what he wants and, most importantly – which I think should not be missing in a child – he has faith in the love of God and Mary, our interceding Mother.”
Doors always open to help the Mozambican people

The Herald priests do not only welcome those who seek them, but are also ready to go to homes to bless them and to bring a word of comfort to families. Natália
Guiamba was graced by such a visit, and thankfully testifies:

“What gives me joy at every step I take in my life is having met the Heralds. When the priest came to bless our home, we were going through such difficult times that there was not even enough bread on the table. He offered as much solace as he could and encouraged us to be in a continual spirit of prayer. He instructed us on how to have peace in the family. I understood that it was just a phase in our lives, and that the true Christian undergoes trials like this. Thanks to them, my family and I are consecrated to Our Lady today; in other words, we are her slaves, but slaves of love.”

In contemplating the fruits of the apostolate so briefly described on these pages, we cannot overlook that all of this is happening in a country with high poverty index areas, deprived of everything that the modern world takes for greatness. However, treasures of Faith abound there, evoking the sublime words of Jesus consigned to the Gospel of St. Matthew: “I confess to Thee, O Father, Lord of Heaven and earth, because Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast
revealed them to the little ones” (11:25).

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