By Badylon Kawanda Bakiman
Located more than 100 kilometers from Kikwit, Kwilu province, in the southwest of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the diocese of Idiofa has just vibrated to the rhythm of the centenary of evangelization, following the example of the diocese of Kikwit in 2012.
A colorful event whose closing took place on Sunday, June 5, 2022 at Ipamu, the very first mission considered as the “Mother Mission” of the said diocese, because it was there where the Jesuit fathers had settled in 1922, then followed by the congregation of the “Oblates of Mary Immaculate” in 1931.
The event at Idiofa came sometime after the ASSEPKIN (Provincial Episcopal Assembly of Kinshasa) held in Kikwit a few days before.
These festivities ended peacefully with a solemn mass said by Cardinal Fridolin Ambongo in the presence of the representative of the Congolese Head of State, political and administrative authorities, police, military and thousands of Christians and souls of good will.
At the beginning of the mass, Bishop José Moko, Bishop of Idiofa, explained how his diocese was created 100 years ago with nine deaneries and 43 parishes, 47 sub-parishes, 290 “Basic Living Ecclesiastical Communities” (CEVB).
“Our diocesan church is celebrating. She is jubilant because this celebration is honored by the presence of several distinguished guests. Even the President of the Republic is represented. It is a day that many children from Ipamu and elsewhere will never forget and will always keep a fresh memory. They will remember the presence of the cardinal, of several bishops that they may never see again in Ipamu”, said Bishop Moko in his speech.
History reveals that the very first bishop, Bishop Alphonse Bossart, who lies in a mausoleum not far from the cathedral, had his seat in Ipamu. The diocese was called Ipamu before the transfer to Idiofa in 1958 with Bishop René Toussaint.
One hundred years later, the transfer of responsibilities from the missionaries to the natives was made official.
For his part, in his homily, Cardinal Ambongo indicated that the future of the diocese of Idiofa is in the hands of the sons and daughters of this diocese and no longer in the hands of people from elsewhere.
“In a symbolic gesture, we saw the passing of the Gospel between the missionaries and the locals. This means that the missionary era, in the strict sense of the word, is over, in the sense of those brave and robust bearded missionaries who came from the north to bring us the gospel, who came from the north with material help to build the church… The gospel has passed into our hands, we the locals, here symbolized by your father, the bishop. This means that from now on the future of Idiofa is no longer in the hands of people from elsewhere. It is the responsibility of its own sons and daughters. It is our responsibility to keep the flame of the gospel that we received from the missionaries burning. This work is not the work of an individual. It is a work that we must do hand in hand, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit,” he added.
When asked about this, Jean Mulolo, one of the human rights defenders present at the festivities, said he was impressed by the organization and conduct of the celebration.
“May the people of this diocese take their responsibilities in hand and reach a second centenary,” he said.