Central African Republic

DELEGATION LEADER – Fr Medard Godfroy G. Longba

The Comboni Missionaries in CAR relates way back in 1955-1965 conflict in Sudan between the Muslim Arabs in the North and the Christian and animist black population in the South when violence caused the flight of many people to neighboring countries. The majority of the refugees who went to CAR belonged to the Zande ethnic group. They settled in the territory of Bangassou Diocese and the bishop thought that the Comboni Missionaries were the mist suitable to assist them since they know the Zande language and were known by the refugees. The missionaries arrived in September 1966 and settled in Agbosi the border, just beyond the border of Sudan. The refugees began to cultivate the fields, while prayer centres were opened and the Catechumenate was setup.

However, CAR government’s pressures soon forced refugees to return to their own country. Out of 27,000 people registered at the end of 1966, only 5,000 remained 2 years on. However many had moved to Mboki (200km from the border) where the missionaries opened the mission of Abossi. Activities in Agbosi continued until the mission’s closing in 1973. In March 1967, the archbishop of Bangui entrusted the parish of Our Lady Fatima, in the capital to the Comboni Missionaries and soon other missions – Obo, Zemio, Tokoyo, Grimari, Mongoumba, Mbata and Dekao were opened while the Comboni Sisters arrived in 1967. Fathers, Brothers and Sisters along the years set up numerous health centres and leper colonies training centres and schools and also worked in radio stations.

In 1987 a Postulancy was opened in Bangui and from 1987 to 1994, the group accepted responsibility roles in the Major Seminaries in the capital. In 1995, Mgr. Perin Guermin, an Italian Comboni Missionary was appointed bishop of Mbaiki; in January 1998, Spanish Juan Jose Aguirre, was made bishop of Bangassou.  Since 2012, due to the rebellion of the Seleka rebel group (mainly Muslims) numerous ecclesial structures were looted and destroyed while the spiral of revenge and hatred began to tear the country apart. From December 2013 to January 2017, the two Comboni parishes and the Postulancy in Bangui welcomed, protected and fed thousands of people.

Today 33 missionaries work in CAR together with 12 Comboni Missionaries Sisters and 3 Comboni Lay Missionaries