The Falaba Christian Community
It is more than a decade that the Christian Community of Falaba was founded. It was the Fathers of Kabala who started and followed that small community of Christians. They celebrated baptism in two occasions. First it was Fr. Carlo Di Sopra, second by Fr. F. X. Sudarmanto. They used one classroom of the school as their church. Through the years, the community struggled to survive. The faith that was planted lasted until today.
Falaba is the place in Sierra Leone where the entry point of Islam began and penetrated to the whole country. There is already a history of Islam in the place. More so, the Chiefdom is dominated by the tribes of the Yalunkas. The Yalunka people, because of their strong Islamic background, are rather slow to embrace the Christian faith. Yet it also happened that the previous Paramount Chief of the Sulima Chiefdom was a Catholic – Bernard Mangga Salifu Samura III. Through the late Paramount Chief’s help, the Christian community was borne.
However, before the Catholics arrived there, there were already the Missionaries of Christ in Africa (MCA). They had settled in Falaba town, Kalire, Binde, Gania on the way to the border of Guinea. The MCA made a quite strong impressions on the area. They gained converts to Christianity. In Falaba town, they used one house as their church. When the Pastor died and the old house collapsed, the remaining few members joined the Catholics for the Sunday Service. Both MCA and Catholics formed a good Christian community though rather small. With this small group of Christians praying together in a classroom, they prayed and longed to have a Church.
The Xaverian Fathers tried to find means in order to build the Church in Falaba. With the help of Providence, the plan has now come true. On the 20th of January 2018, we blessed and opened the newly-built Church of Falaba. It was put under the patronage of St. Bernard in memory of the late Paramount Chief Bernard Samura. His Lordship Bishop Natale Paganelli – the Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Makeni came to grace the occasion. We began with the blessing of the Church by the Bishop and the cutting of the ribbon by the wife of the late Paramount Chief. Then, we continued with the Holy Mass.
The celebration was well attended. Many chiefdom and local authorities came – the Regent Paramount Chief, the Section chief, the Town chiefs, the representative of the Chief Imam, the Chiefdom Health Officer. The District Officer of Falaba of Falaba district and others who were not mentioned. The Manager of the Catholic Relief Services (CRS) since they are also working in the chiefdom. The MCA members of Falaba and Gania. The family and relatives of the late Paramount Chief. And some invited personalities of the town together with our Christian community.
On the part of the Kabala parish, there were around 30 selected people including the three Fathers: Fr. Victor Bongiovani, Fr. Anthony Guiotto and Fr. Joeven Matugas. On the part of the Mongo Bendugu parish, they were five representatives with Fr. Sudarmanto, Fr. Adolphe and Brother Bruno. Fr. Carlo – the Regional Superior also was there to grace the occasion.
The Bishop was happy. And so the people of Falaba were very happy. The Chiefdom authorities appreciated the effort made by the Catholic Mission and the CRS in the field of education in the whole chiefdom. They have seen the good work that the Mission have carried out for them. They truly hope that the Catholic Mission will continue in the same way, while they promised to give their cooperation for the welfare of the whole chiefdom.