Monday, August 29, 2016
The Capuchin Province of Angola was proclaimed on Sunday, August 28, 2016 during a Mass at the parish of Our Lady of Fatima. August 2, the feast of Our Lady of the Angels of the Portiuncula, had been a memorable day for the Capuchins of Angola; it was on this day that the festivities began for the proclamation of their new Province.
The August 28 erection of the Province of Angola out of the preceding Custody came after 68 years of Capuchin presence in recent times and 190 years in an earlier mission. The current presence began when the Capuchins arrived in 1948. The older Capuchin presence was from 1645 to 1835.
The Capuchins in Angola have traveled a long path in which they have had a broad experience by means of many glories and tragedies. Angola has known times of peace and of war, periods of crisis and of prosperity. It has been a story of growth down to our own day.
The superiors, in an evaluation made at various levels, have recognized a maturing growth which was ready for a new title. The new Capuchin Province is a daughter of the mother Provinces of Venice and Portugal; now it lives by its own strength, always united to the great family present in the whole world and having its center of universal unity in Rome, always faithful to the Church.
The presence in Angola from 1645 to 1835: In Luanda, the Capuchins are a traditional presence, in the parish of Fatima, where there is St. Anthony’s seminary; nevertheless they are known as a fraternity of Portuguese Capuchins, and beside Fatima, considered to be from Venice.
At the beginning it was not so. The principal place was found in Caxito, in the capital of the province of Bengo, 60 km to the north. In this place there was some farmland called Tentativa, which produced sugarcane and employed five thousand workers. Even today there is a shrine there dedicated to St. Anne. We speak of the beginnings. The first two Capuchins, who left from Lisbon on August 22, 1954 on the Rita Maria and passed the equator to arrive in Angola, were the Brazilian Br. Cirilo Vargas and the Portuguese Br. Lourenço Torres Lima, both about thirty years old. After sixteen days of travel by sea the two missionaries entered the charming port of Luanda before sunset of September 6, while the fleeting rays of the sun passed over the young leaves of the surrounding palms.
The idea of opening a mission in Angola had been made by the Portuguese Capuchins on January 22 of the same year and was happily approved on the following July 30. With the growth in the number of friars, in 1955 they advanced north and set up the mission of Nambuangongo, 120 km from Luanda.