Abidjan: Opening Mass of CELAF-Institute

dsc08159On Friday, October 14, 2016 was held the celebration of the opening mass of the CELAF-Institute. A colourful celebration brought together the whole Lasallian Family of CELAF so as to entrust this new academic year 2016 – 2017 to the creator of every good thing. The symbols presented during this celebration reflect the commitment that the students and all the staff of the CELAF-Institute took to announce the Gospel of peace, justice and reconciliation.
Relive in full the Speech of the Brother general Director of CELAF-Institute,


Brother Rodrigue TOEPEN

Reverend Father Ambroise Mandah, Good Shepherd Parish’s Priest and President of this beautiful Eucharistic Celebration,
Most Reverend Father Concelebrants,
Dear Brother Pierre Ouattara, General Councillor of the Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools in charge of the African region,
Dear Brother Anatole DIRETENADJI, Regional Administrator and member of the Executive Committee of the CELAF-Institute, and all the staff of the regional team,
Dear teachers and members of the administrative and supporting staff,
Honourable Guests, Major Superiors, Minors Superiors,
Dear Students,
Receive my fraternal greetings in Christ.
After a month of intense work, here we are gathered before the One who summoned us to give him thanks and to present him the joys and sorrows, the hopes and the failures which will make the history of the academic year 2016-17. Yes, it is right and just, yes, it is our duty to give him praise, and in doing so, to show our commitment to Him Father and author of our life. However, we must not forget that our offering is pleasing to the eyes of the Lord, only if he finds us reconciled with our brothers and sisters. This is what we get from the year’s theme of our Archdiocese:
“You, Leave your offering and go first reconcile with your brother» (Mt 5, 23-24)
This theme will be declined and lived in CELAF this year in the following context:
• 17 nationalities, teachers, students, and staff alike,
• 56 religious congregations of men and women
• 3 diocese partners (Abidjan: Côte d’Ivoire, Nouna : Burkina Faso, Kolda: Senegal)
• 197 students (88 religious men, 57 Religious women, 2 diocesan, 19 Lay men, 31 Lay women).dsc08131
• 104 in the ISSPR,
• 41 in the ISVR,
• 52 in CAFOP,
• 90 teachers (priests, religious and lay people alike)
• 22 The members of the administrative and supporting staff.

Dear Students,
In a world of generalized conflict where the reasoning of the stronger seems the best, in a society where reasoning is no longer put to the service of the truth but to selfish interests, in a context where the maintenance of peace becomes justification for all the excesses, the words forgiveness and reconciliation seem like inaudible stammering of a naive and immature child. And yet it is obvious that our world, our Africa, our society has an urgent and ongoing need of forgiveness and reconciliation. There is no need to look outside, just look within: within ourselves, within our families, our communities, our institutions…. It is a major challenge for us religious, lay people, members of the CELAF family to be actors and bearers of reconciliation. Beyond the Rhetoric and gestures that we can ask here and there in favour of the Reconciliation, the diversity of our origins, our cultures, our charisms, our training, our views… reconciliation must be a sign of the possibility of living a fraternity reconciled beyond the borders. We must be a sign that reconciliation is possible. We must be, through our identity in CELAF, torches which are placed in the streets of the city to light and serve as benchmarks to the citizens. Is that not what Pope François wants to tell us by raising to the rank of cardinals Bishop Dieudonné Nzapalainga, young Archbishop of Bangui, Pilgrim and tireless apostle of forgiveness and reconciliation?
Dear Students, we know that reconciliation is this child begotten from the union of truth and forgiveness. However, how to preach the truth in a context of reconciliation? How to take side for truth in the respect of the dignity of the human person? How to tell the truth lovingly? Shall we be able to say with assurance that our Truth is always charitable and our charity, always genuine? We know that any truth which is not charitable hardens, and any charity which is not real rots. Again, as Saint Augustine said it, “Any truth that is not charitable comes from a charity which is not true”. To be reconciled and to reconcile, we must as CELAF family, be men and women of truth in charity and charity in truth.
Finally, I invite you, dear friend students, to undertake reconciliation by relying on Jesus, the one in whom and by whom, humanity has been reconciled with the divinity. Let’s be bold in praying and let’s pray with faith this Psalm so that by our actions and our speeches, our society may be finally reconciled: “love and truth meet, justice and peace embrace; truth shall spring up from the earth and from the sky justice shall come “. May the God of reconciliation hear us.



Be reconciled with God, your Father,
Be reconciled with Christ, your brother.
Accept to take the hand that he holds out
And declare yourself as witnesses by following his path?
Be reconciled! Let us be reconciled now!