Looking back with a grateful heart

I count myself privileged and am very happy to be among you — Jesuits. The support and memories you shared with me on a daily basis at Hekima during my three-year stay, will remain engraved in my heart. I feel indebted to you all my Jesuit Companions especially Fr. Marcel Uwineza, SJ for his listening ear, and Fr. Jean Luc Enyegue, SJ for the many manuscripts of my book publications he has endured to read and correct. My tenure at Hekima and Jesuit Historical Institute in Africa is just one of the many Jesuit missions I have undertaken in my Jesuit life. I still look forward to my new mission at Loyola Editions with great humility to serve and accept to do things for the Greater Glory of God!

The year 2023 has been a beehive of activities for me at both Hekima and The Jesuit Historical Institute in Africa, (JHIA). I enjoyed serving in different capacities. I served as a Formator at the Jesuit School of Theology, Associate Director of JHIA, Treasurer for my Community House-Huruma, Consultor on the House Consult of Hekima University College, and Admonitor to the Rector in which I was honored to attend the consultation meetings and advice the Rector on matters concerning the life-mission of the community. I also served as Dean of Students, as well as being in charge of Pastoral and Theology Fieldwork Programs. In addition to these, I served in many other challenging roles that I’m not able to mention here.

The Café of Jesuit Historians (Café Engelbert Mveng) which I actively participated in and helped coordinate has had a great impact on the way scholars view History in the Continent of Africa. With my guidance, JHIA managed to organize several online meetings. An example is the two most recent ones where the first was presented by Nsielanga Tukumu, S.J. on Decolonization of discourses and practices in the Society of Jesus in Congo, 1960-1999, and the second was presented by Fr. Jean-Paul Savi, SJ which discussed the universalities of mission and national identities in Togo during the Apostolic Vicariate of Togo from 1892 to 1937. (Universalité missionnaire et identités nationales dans le Vicariat Apostolique du Togo 1892-1937). The Mgr. Munzihirwa Symposium is upcoming. I’m among the Organizing committee of selected Jesuits who are tasked to see that the Symposium is successful. It will be an opportunity to reflect on the challenges of peace and reconciliation and charting for Africa, the DRC, and the Great Lakes region that is planned to take place on the 1st of September 2023.

The Jesuit Publications is another project that excites my soul. The JHIA project to publish the monthly JHIA newsletter has received positive criticism. The institute has managed to save on the cost of printing since it is shared digitally with its audience. We have also agreed that JHIA will keep the publication project going by publishing at least a few books each year. An example of what to expect is Sous la direction du Institut de Théologie de la Compagnie de Jésus ITCJ DU BERCEAU A L’ADOLESCENCE 2003 – 2018 15ans – Père Anicet N’TEBA MBENGI, S.J., Les Jésuites et la naissance du clergé diocésain de Popokabaka-Kwango by Fr. Anicet N’TEBA Mbengi, S.J.

In order for JHIA to meet some of our short-time and long-term financial obligations, we make regular appeal campaigns to our partners and well-wishers who make donations to us both in kind and monetary which goes to meet some of our recurrent projects such as acquisitions of materials by purchase and shipping.

Lastly, I wish to applaud the entire Hekima non-teaching fraternity. Special thanks go to the JHIA staff who have been very cooperative. The small in-house celebrations we conducted from time to time created a unifying bridge between the directors and the team. The staff felt accepted and motivated all the time. The routine meetings every week to make sure that every staff was accountable for his duties by reporting what they do and letting everyone understand what was happening in each department or section.  Stressing the culture of working as a team has also made JHIA work seamless but practical as each employee’s role compliments the other.

By Fr. Anicet N’Teba Mbengi, SJ

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