In light of the struggles that many African countries are facing currently, including war, hunger, ethnic cleansing and religious persecution, the Diocese held a special Mass for African nations on Oct. 21 at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church in Ontario.
The principal celebrant was Bishop Alberto Rojas, who was also joined by Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus Rutilio del Riego and several priests, including Vicar General Monsignor Gerard Lopez and Father Rafael Partida, Episcopal Vicar of the Riverside Pastoral Region and Director of the Department of Ethnic Affairs.
“We gather to help prop up the hands of our brothers and sisters in the continent Africa ... we gather to help them with our prayer because we all need each other,” said Father Daniel Abba, C.S.Sp, Parochial Vicar at Our Lady of the Valley Parish, Hemet, who gave the homily.
“We are a continent that has seen strife. We have seen danger; we have become slaves to corruption ... we are wearing red today because our continent has lost so many faithful citizens for no reason. Our Christianity faces danger. Our citizens face danger. We gather today as a community of faith because we are hopeful. As long as we are alive today, we are hopeful for tomorrow,” added Fr. Abba.
At the end of the homily, Fr. Abba led the congregation in prayer for Africa. They used the “Prayer for Nigerian Distress” which has been commonly prayed in Nigeria for over 50 years, except they modified the prayer to include all of Africa.
The Mass had traditional African music and drew faithful from St. Elizabeth Ann Seton and beyond. Among those present at the Mass were the Knights of St John International and their Ladies Auxiliary, a fraternal group made up of Catholics of African descent.
After Mass, the Blessed Sacrament was processed through all corners of the church, symbolizing the encirclement of the African nations by God. Afterwards, there was refreshment in the parish hall.
We ask for your continued prayer for Africa as they face the struggles of violence, persecution and poverty