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"Good can never be refund"

A conversation with Father Cristino-Ela Engonga, student of Canon Law.

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Father Cristino-Ela Engonga is from Equatorial Guinea. PHOTO: Manuel Castells
05/05/14 12:55 Fina Trèmols

Cristino-Ela Engonga Mboo has been a priest since August 13, 2011. Five days after his ordination, he was appointed pastor of the Church of the Holy Family in Mengomeyén, a municipality belonging to the territory of the Diocese of Ebibeyín, in Equatorial Guinea. This appointment caused him immense surprise and surprise, so he asked his Bishop how he was going to start this. He answered him: "I have thought about it like this, go and start and God will show you what you have to do". And there he went, with two other priests, with whom he had to organize the pastoral activity of 21 villages, some of them more than 60 km away from the parish seat. And after two or three months, Father Cristino saw the fruits of his work, because, thanks to the generosity of his parishioners and the support of his Bishop, they were able to obtain the means of transportation and other means subject to be able to reduce the immense needs of the parish. After six months, he was no longer afraid.

A year later the Bishop called him again to tell him that he had other plans for him; Father Cristino told him "whatever you want" thinking that he was going to change his parish. What he could not even imagine was that he was going to send him to Pamplona to do the licentiate degree in Canon Law and thus be able to better serve the Church not only in Guinea, but in any other part of the world, since priests are trained for the good of the universal Church. This project would become a reality thanks to a scholarship, provided by a Foundation. And so the Bishop surprised Father Cristino once again, because he had always liked law, but when he entered the seminar, he forgot about law to immerse himself in the Philosophy and in theology.

"For me it was a very strong shock," says Father Cristino. "In my country, the priest is not only a priest, but sometimes he acts as mediator, counselor and even "judge" insofar as the faithful know that he has to have a word on any conflict or concern. Leaving that context and falling into Pamplona, a different reality, without having a priest for souls, sometimes deprived of some necessary things, returning to the classrooms of class with all that that entails, was not easy to cope with at first. But then one realizes that it is a great effort of detachment and humility, because if one is not in need, one cannot value anything or know how to care for those who are most in need.

"I live in a residency program with other priests from other parts of the world: Poland, El Salvador, Indonesia, Mexico, Cameroon, Philippines.... It is a very good experience. We are all different, but guided by the same goal. The reason why we have come to study here is the same: that Jesus Christ may be known and that we may continue to build up the Church. I do not know how to refund the financial aid received, because as we say in my country: "You cannot do good refund"; the best way to do it is to be grateful to the benefactor and to be a channel of the same good for others. I also feel involved in the great mission statement of the Foundations that help the training of priests all over the world. From Equatorial Guinea, once the training is finished, we would like to contribute our grain of sand. I ask God to be wise and humble, like the professors I have had the opportunity to meet at the University of Navarra. University of Navarra"Cristino concludes.