Since 2015 the Brothers of Saint John in Kara, Togo, have run a project of formation, of sharing and of seeking the truth in a magnificent setting, with the goal of increasing the trust, communion and profound equilibrium of the person. In cooperation with the Church in Kara and several civil authorities, the project offers a light-filled hope for a creative and profound future, especially to young people. The light they offer is an inner light that guides their formation, whether in their work, their mutual exchanges, their contemplation of nature or their search for truth. Lived in this way, these experiences lead the participants in the project to a renewed trust, to hope and to communion, as well as a deeper cooperation between nature, technology, the human person and God. Concretely speaking, the project involves three main aspects: forming a centre in which entrepreneurs might be nurtured; building a place in which the brothers might live; creating a centre that offers spiritual nourishment in a setting that takes one’s breath away.
Fr Etienne, who started the project, tells us: “Young people here never cease to amaze me! Honestly, after all the years I have spent working in Togo, I have to admit that once again I underestimated the capacity young people have for work, not just in terms of their efforts but also the quality of their work. You can judge for yourselves if you take a look at their building work on the chapel, which began at the end of January, 2019. Many entrepreneurs in our ancient Europe can only dream of having workers like this with such team spirit. I could sum up by simply saying, what joy! As Bernanos said, “The fever of youth is what maintains the rest of the world at a normal temperature.” The youth are one of the great treasures of the African continent, which faces so many challenges, challenges that, rather than provoking fear, should instead be met with numerous initiatives!”
Jacques, Patrick, Ginette and Michèle give their testimony on how they came to Lumen Valley: After leaving Senegal in 2014, we came to Togo for formation with the TypHAS association. Discovering this otherworldly haven of peace was magnificent. It was also a period of intense activity, a time of discovery working with a team of outstanding and very promising young Togolese people. Despite the heat and the fatigue, there was so much enthusiasm, fraternal joy and commitment in this new and demanding professional venture. What we have taken away from the two weeks of formation in which we participated are memories of beautiful, warm and authentic exchanges and the satisfaction of successful communication, thanks to the commitment of everyone taking part, most especially the eleven young people on placement. They have our full confidence in continuing the work we started together. It was a great joy to participate in this ambitious project, which is so full of meaning in a world where meaning is often hard to find.
25 years of priesthood
On the occasion of the 25th anniversary of Fr Etienne’s ordination to the priesthood, the young people of Lomé put on a musical called “Lumen Valley”, and with just three weeks preparation. The musical was written and interpreted by students from the university parish. The theme of the musical was the presentation of Lumen Valley. The Agora Seghor hall was full and there was a hymn about Lumen Valley specially composed for the occasion. Those who would like to hear it can listen on the Youtube channel. The highlight of the festivities was, of course, the celebration of the Eucharist.
The leitmotif for Fr Etienne over the last few months can be summed up in these words: “A new youthfulness is on the horizon in Togo, progressively distancing itself from the old dialectics and bringing in a new era that is presenting its own vision”. Fr Jean-Maximilien added: “The young people surprise us and have so many qualities, and yet one can easily pass them by without noticing them. Why is this? Perhaps because they are a little like rough diamonds, which need work in order to reveal all their beauty and the richness of their hidden potential.” The Brothers of Saint John’s mission in Togo consists in enabling the greatest number of young people to seize the moment, their moment, and therefore their history.