Secular Franciscan Order

Ordo Franciscanus Sæcularis

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God, with great love and the intercession of Saint Francis, united us once again with the brothers and sisters of the OFS and the YouFra of the continent. This was the Second congress of OFS and YouFra of Francophone Africa (of the western region) with the participation of the countries of English and Portuguese languages. It was celebrated in Lomé (Togo) in February 8-15, 2014. The participating countries were: Benin, Angola, South Africa, Burkina Faso, Togo, Cameroun, Ivory Coast, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, and Cape Verde. Representatives of the CIOFS Presidency from Croatia, Mexico, Eritrea, Spain, and France were also present. We missed our brothers and sisters of the Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, and Mozambique, but we hope to have their presence with us the next time.

The objectives of the Congress included a collective reflection on the identity, and the situation of Franciscans (OFS, YouFra, and Spiritual Assistants) in the African culture; to improve communication (local, regional, national and international) and to find solutions to adapt to language problems in Africa.
During the Congress, the participants were able to share their experiences through talks and workshops (one of the groups had YouFra participants). In the groups, the participants showed their history, their activities, their difficulties, and their joy in the midst of the Franciscan Family, and in their own fraternities, local as well as national. This allowed us to learn about the way of life of each fraternity in its own country. The leaders of the Congress instructed us in the following themes: the international fraternity, spiritual assistance (their responsibility as well as their role), the YouFra, the Rule and the Constitutions, the Profession and our responsibility to the Franciscan Family and the Africa Project.
We were able to discover the Lomé city. We visited the Santa Clara Monastery in Aképé, in the frontier between Togo and Ghana; the Independence Square, and the Autonomous Port of Lomé where we were warmly received. The participants, following in the footsteps of Pope John Paul II, arrived at Togo Lake, situated in the Diocese of Aného, where we consecrated our national fraternities to Our Lady of Lake Togo.
The day before the congress ended, the participants enjoyed an African fiesta. The next day the Congress Conclusions were presented, voted on, and approved by all the participants.
Now that we are separated, the fraternities contact each other by all means of communication, in order to continue the exchange of experiences, mutually helping each other.

Honoré Dèdèwanou Bradley, YouFra of Bénin