Monday, September 29, 2008

Portuguese-speaking Bishops Meet in Macau

The eighth encounter of the presidents of bishops’ conferences of Portuguese-speaking countries was held in Macau from September 22 to 28.
Relevant for us was the presence of two Claretian delegates, Bishop Manuel António Mendes dos Santos, bishop of São Tomé and Príncipe, and Fr. José Martins Maia from Portugal.

As “missionaries without borders”… let’s take a short look at Sao Tome and Principe
São Tomé and Príncipe is an island nation in the Gulf of Guinea, off the western equatorial coast of Africa. It consists of two islands: São Tomé and Príncipe, located about 140 kilometers apart and about 250 and 225 kilometers, respectively, off the northwestern coast of Gabon. Both islands are part of an extinct volcanic mountain range. São Tomé, the sizable southern island, is situated just north of the equator. It was named in honor of St. Thomas by Portuguese explorers who happened to arrive at the island on his feast day.

São Tomé and Príncipe is the second smallest African country in terms of population (the Seychelles being the smallest). It is about 1,000 square kilometers with a population of 200,000. The Claretians have been is this tiny place since 1927. There are six more Claretians working in this country.
Fr. Maia’s main work in Portugal is with an NGO named CIC-Portugal (Association for Cooperation, Interchange and Culture). This is an organization for international cooperation and to help people in need. Its main objective is mutual cooperation, intercultural communication and sharing of scientific and technical skills between Portugal and developing countries.

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