A scattered seed begins to sprout. In Savoigne, Senegal, a tiny Catholic community of 375 souls is now a flourishing sapling in a vast expanse of Islam.

Ninety percent of the inhabitants of the diocese of Saint-Louis in Senegal are Muslims. The people in Savoigne happily live side-by-side. When Father Emmanuel Zanaboni was put in charge of this parish as a young missionary, 34 years ago, the village was virtually abandoned. A half-finished building served as a multipurpose centre for all manner of things.

Father Emmanuel…

  • sought out the ‘scattered sheep’ 
  • brought them together again,
  • prayed each evening with the young people,
  • taught them to sing psalms and hymns and
  • started converting the hall into a church.

He had brought with him from Italy an 18th century statue of Our Lady, Health of the Sick, who quickly drew people to her. There was an upwelling of prayer and faith, and soon pilgrims began to arrive. They grew ever more numerous, and now some even come from the capital, Dakar.

Savoigne has become a place of pilgrimage and the converted church hall has long been too small. Today, at least half the congregation has to stand outside during Holy Mass and there is a lack of accommodation for the pilgrims.

So two years ago work began on a new pilgrim church. Everyone gives or helps in whatever way they can. Now thanks to your generosity ACN is also helping with a contribution which will cover a proportion of the building costs. A beautiful seed has sprouted in the Senegalese wilderness, thanks be to God and the intervention of His Blessed Mother.

This article can be found in Mirror 0516.