The Emmanuel Community in the Gabon is reborn
“This brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found!” (Lk 15:32)
The Emmanuel Community in the Gabon was founded about twenty years ago. At the time, an expatriate Community couple were working there for an oil company. With the agreement of the local Church authorities, they started the first prayer group in Port-Gentil. Very quickly, this group began to grow and a large number of pastoral and evangelisation activities were begun for the benefit of children and young people. This activity was very fruitful and the nucleus of a Community formed giving rise to the first two households. After a few years, the couple who began it all returned to France and, without them knowing anything about it, the oil company sent out another Community couple who took over straight away! When, in their turn, they also left, Gabonese sisters took over, but without being really ready or sufficiently formed for this new responsibility. They also lacked contacts with the Community in France. In addition, at the same time, the young members who were the “driving force” of the group left to study in Libreville.
Little by little, the prayer group in Port-Gentil became a group that was living less in the graces of the Community and was gradually moving away from what the Community really is. In Libreville a new group began to form. But there also, it found its limitations, in particular with regard to ambiguous matrimonial situations. This had important consequences for the future. For all these reasons, in 2007, with the agreement of the Council, those responsible for the Community Zone Africa decided to suspend all Community activity in the Gabon. There was no longer any Emmanuel Community in the Gabon!
This was a great shock for the members, but they took this decision well, with a certain fraternal “submission”. They therefore changed the names of the prayer groups – at Port-Gentil it became “the Fraternity of Saint Joseph”. In addition, they decided to continue their life of prayer and sharing in the spirit that they had learned from the Community. Many of the members thought about their matrimonial situations and gradually regularised them, most of them by getting married. All of them remained closely attached to the Community, keeping themselves informed by means of Internet about what was happening in the Emmanuel Community.
In 2014 – in other words, seven years later! – three Gabonese women came to attend a summer session at Paray-le-Monial paying for the journey out of their own pockets. They asked to meet the Moderator’s Delegates for Africa and explained the new situation to them. It was then decided that Christine and Pierre-Francois Graffin would visit them in 2015 or 2016. But, in the face of their persevering insistence, the visit was finally fixed for Easter 2015.
Once they were there, and had met a large number of brothers and sisters and had spoken to them about the call to Emmanuel and what progress in the Community involves, Christine and Pierre-Francois took a decision. That is how, a few days ago, two Gabonese in Libreville, a brother and sister, made their commitment and ten others entered the Stage of Welcome and discernment! In May-June, on the occasion of the first national Emmanuel Community Weekend for a long time, about ten more members, this time from Port-Gentil, will in their turn enter the Stage of Welcome and Discernment.
So, after a time of inactivity, the Community has been reborn in the Gabon. Thank You Lord! Let us pray for them!