Focus 2023

Africa - 28-07-2023

A new Salesian presence in Africa: in Botswana

“On July 18, the Rector Major, Fr Ángel Fernández Artime, with the consent of his Council, approved the opening of a new presence in Botswana”announced Fr Alfred Maravilla, General Councillor for Missions.

Anthony Pascal Rebello, SVD, bishop of Francistown, Botswana, invited Fr Eustace Siame, a Salesian from Zambia, to preach a retreat for Catholics in his diocese in 2022. He then invited the Superior of the ZMB Vice-Province to start a presence in his diocese. 

On 8-9 February 2023, just after his instalment as Superior of the ZMB Vice-Province, Fr Michael Mbandama made his first visit to the country, accompanied by two Salesians.

During his visit to Italy on 19 June 2023, Archbishop Rebello met the Rector Major, Fr Á.F. Artime, in the Salesian Mother House at Valdocco, in Turin. “We are willing to accept his invitation to work with the poor young people of Botswana” the Rector Major assured Bishop Rebello.

“Botswana is a well-off country in Africa. And Archbishop Rebello’s request to the Salesians is above all to take care of marginalised young people, starting a youth centre, because even in Botswana there are poor and marginalised children. He also asks us to work with the illegal immigrants detained in the Gerald detention centre and to take care of the Mass Centre in Monarch and eventually transform it into a parish” Fr Maravilla explained.

“The new presence in Botswana will help us as Salesians, because we will be forced to rethink what we have always done in Africa” adds Fr Alphonse Owoudou, Councillor for Africa and Madagascar. “Botswana will force us to ask ourselves what we can offer young people who do not yet have anything or who are not insured by the state. So it will be up to us to launch some great new initiatives.”

In November Fr Maravilla will visit Bostwana together with the Superior of ZMB, and the arrival of the first group of Salesians is scheduled for 2024. “The Rector Major asked the ZMB Vice-Province to prepare and send the first group of Salesians. Other reorganisations of a legal kind could be made in the future, because five countries in a Vice-Province would make it too large as a circumscription” Fr Maravilla concluded.