PARISH ST ARNOLD JASSEN – LARAMANAYE, CHAD
By FR. JOHN BAPTIST HUY TRAN, SVD
Located in a strategic point on the route to Cameroon and at the heart of the concentrated zone of Protestants, our parish St. Arnold Janssen at Laramanaye presents a special opportunity for the interreligious dialogues, not only with our protestant brothers and sisters but also with our predominant Muslim neighbors and traditional animists.
This year, the JPIC of the parish celebrated its annual
“day of peace” (la journee national de la cohabitation
pacifique). We welcomed in our own parish an impressive
group of more than 60 participants, some of which are Muslim
imams, pastors of various protestant churches, catholic
catechists, priests and sisters as well as the local political and
military leaders and various traditional chiefs of different levels
of leadership. The presence of this religiously diverse group of participants surely said a lot
about the necessity of peace and peaceful co-existence in our region, in our country and elsewhere in the world. By coming together, our message is clear as it can be: “we are tired of wars and hate and discrimination. We want peace. We want it now. And we are committed to building it.” Our collective “we” has spoken and now is the time to roll up our sleeves and get to work.
Peace is indeed a precious gift from our only almighty God. We are all, no distinction intended, called to building it, safeguarding it, and maintaining it, so that not only us, but our future generations would inherit it and learn to live together in peace.
Our pastor Fr. Frederic Koubi, SVD started the celebration with a prayer uniting us all in the guidance of the Spirit. Then, the highest local authority (the prefect of our prefecture) officially declared “ouvert” our celebration.
Our theme for the day was on the “traditional” practice of “the price of blood” (le prix du sang in French or Diya in Arabic). It is an ancient practice that can be traced back to the 10th century. It is practiced by a small sect of Muslims, but makes no mistakes that it also exists, in various forms and degrees, in many native cultures in Chad. It essentially states that if a Muslim is killed by a member of a family, a clan, a tribe or a village, that certain family, clan, tribe or village as a collective has to pay up a large sum of money (the sum is varied in different contexts but in general, it is 3,500,000 FCFA = 7,000 US dollars) or a person be killed as ransom. This practice, needless to say, opposes directly to our evangelical values of love and respect for the dignity of the human life. More importantly, it stands in opposition also to the qur’anic teaching of our Muslim brothers and sisters. At the end of the presentation and lively debates, the chief imam of the grand mosque led the group in a thanksgiving prayer. And we concluded our day with a fraternal meal shared together in the name of the God-given gift of peace.
All in all, God/Alla/Spirit surely was in our midst leading our every thought and guiding every word we spoke. “Al Salam allekum” were exchanged not so much by word, but by deed, by the fraternal and respectful presence of all participants. Peace is indeed a precious gift from our only almighty God. We are all, no distinction intended, called to building it, safeguarding it, and maintaining it, so that not only us, but our future generations would inherit it and learn to live together in peace.