We have received and are pleased to publish the testimony of a dear friend of ours appointed by Pope Francis as a Missionary of Mercy, Don Toussaint Ouologuem, a Mali priest. We are very grateful to Toussaint for this beautiful testimony for, knowing him as we do, we know that he will be capable of announcing the love and infinite mercy of our Father to whomever he meets.
Fr. Toussaint Ouologuemi
If they had asked me to choose a priest in my diocese to be a Missionary of Divine Mercy, I would never have chosen myself. Not because I have a lack of faith in myself or a low opinion of myself but because it is Mercy which is involved, Divine Mercy.
Summing up all my sins, weaknesses, spiritual, intellectual and moral frailties and adding to these my severity of judgment, my search for justice at any cost, the difficulty I have in giving people a second chance, above all those who have in some way, offended me. And to conclude, my youth and lack of experience in the priesthood ( two and a half years). Putting all this together, I would certainly not have chosen myself as a Missionary of Mercy. A sinner, too severe, too young and little experience, I would have defined myself as inadequate for such an important mission.
But here I am; chosen by the Pontifical Council for New Evangelization, through the Urban College, approved by my bishop and designated by Pope Francis as a Missionary of Mercy. And I ask myself: why me?
Regardless of the Urban College’s choice, regardless of my bishop’s approval, his Green Light, regardless of the letters and e-mails between myself and the Pontifical Council for New Evangelization, regardless of any other human intervention, I can’t help but see the hand of God in the fact that I was chosen. It is my faith which is asking this of me, my spirituality that is telling this to me, my vocation to the priesthood that is shouting it out loudly. So, I ask myself: why me?
This is the question I have never stopped asking myself and God ever since I was approached the first time because someone, somewhere proposed my name. With huge joy, with fascination on the one hand and tremendous fear on the other, I willingly accepted this mission. But ever since then I have been asking myself: why me?
I am now sure that I will ask myself this question way beyond this year, until the end of my days, seeking to understand better the full meaning hidden and desired by God, a meaning both for me and for others.
A few days after my consecration as a Missionary of Mercy, after a Eucharistic Adoration in one of the Churches in Torbe, a holy hand gave me a book, a book called «We cannot keep quiet about what we have seen». I started to read it straight away a sentence struck me, a sentence which answered my continual question. In fact, the sentence said «when God touches your life he assigns you a duty: to give yourself wholly to Him and be happy in Him in order to announce it to others».
Between conferences on Mercy and missions on the radio and the TV, between homilies and Penitential Celebrations and some personal encounters, I try in every way to carry out my mission as a priest promoting Divine Mercy and spread word of my happiness. But it is never enough. That is why I have never missed an opportunity of asking people to pray for me, just as Pope Francis does on many occasions, asking people to pray for him.
Many stories about vocation in the Holy Scriptures make us understand that God, for the most part, doesn’t choose someone because that person is already able to accomplish his mission, but he chooses him in order to make him able, suitable for that mission. Therefore it is my duty to be vigilant in order to receive such Grace as God may give me for my mission. May God help me in this.!
This is a Year of Grace which has been granted us. It is a year in which we have the task of meditating (personally) on God’s Mercy, benefiting from his Divine Mercy (by the sacrament of penitence) and living it (the 14 works of Divine Mercy).
Towards the end of his Bull, Misericordiae Vultus, Pope Francis says:” In this Jubilee Year, let us allow God to surprise us”. I wish to add that we need to allow ourselves to be surprised … by ourselves, : surprised at what we can do that is beautiful, great and extraordinary meditating on, benefiting from, living and sharing Divine Mercy. God bless us all!