God, AIDS, Africa & HOPE

pensée of a Catholic priest

28.10.2009 450 youngsters…

A big surprise when I enter the Liebfrauen church in Bitburg for the first part of my day: talking and celebrating a prayer service with the students of the St. Willibrord Gymnasium. Round about 450 students are filling the church – I am not sure what I thought before but I was indeed surprised to see so many youngsters. Talk and service went well, we were able to connect and it seems, at least according to some teachers afterwards, the noise level was significant lower than in other services. The youngsters listened – a good experience and quite energizing for me. And energy I needed: After the service I met with 120 students of class 13 – the Abitur class.  At the “Haus der Jugend” we had time to discuss matters and to try to bridge the gap between South Africa and Germany. And again an audience to connect to – with good questions and I hope some good answers too.

Prevention, treatment, sexuality, sangomas, academic research, grass root projects, theology, church and condoms – there was not a lot untouched during the discussion – a lively debate.

After that I went with the principal and the teachers to the school to be formally welcomed in front of all teachers. The principal found some nice words of welcome and some of my very own teachers 30 years ago were still working – a pleasure to meet them again. 2 Jahrggangsstufen (standard 8 and standard 9) were singled out to have a discussion with me during the next two hours. Amazing to hear that some students came after the talk to pass on the regards of their parents who happened to be my friends and neigbors or classmates while I was myself a student of the school.

Then a nice drive to Aachen – changing briefly into Belgium to cut time and some more busy streets – and now I prepare for my evening talk about “HIV and AIDS as signs of the time” – with a discussion afterward with the students of the University of Aachen. As mentioned before the representatives of misereor, misso and others where not allowed to discuss this topic with me – and I still feel sorry for them: not talking to each other is the worst case scenario for us as Christians. It is indeed a shame, as I strongly believe that we all try to find ways and solutions serving mankind. And we do this with seriousness and we all deserve respect and a listening ear for our ideas. I hope and pray that this ignorance will cease soon and that we are able to engage in fruitful discussion. I am amazed to see who all is talking to me, also from the church side – but not those big Catholic development agencies. Are they are scared of competition? Or anything else I am not aware?

Be it as it is – I am looking forward to discuss a theology of HIV and AIDS with the students and to see, whether my very fragmented approach of theology, bounced on the minds of those students, can develop further. I continue to hope for the best…

Filed under: HIV Prevention, HIV Treatment, HOPE Cape Town Association & Trust, Medical and Research, Networking, Politics and Society, , , , , , , , , , , ,

HIV, AIDS and HOPE – thoughts of a Catholic priest

Being a Roman - Catholic priest and working in the fields of HIV and AIDS in Africa is often a challenge. Living in Africa has also its challenges. On the other hand I feel very much blessed having all the three. So you will find stories and reflections about my work, about the church, South Africa and Africa and essential information and developments in the field of HIV and AIDS. And in between personal stories and thoughts. You are most welcome to leave a comment or to get in touch with me - blogs - "thinking loud" so to speak is a ways of communication and exchange of ideas.

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