New Superior General for the White Fathers

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ROME, JUNE 11, 2004 (Zenit.org).- Father Gerard Chabanon, 56, was elected superior general of the Missionaries of Africa, better known as the "White Fathers."



The Missionaries of Africa number about 1,700 members worldwide. They are distributed in 330 communities, especially in the Magreb, Jerusalem and Lebanon.

Father Chabanon has been a provincial superior in France and was for a long time a missionary in Tanzania, among other African countries.

The Missionaries of Africa, a society of apostolic life, was founded in Algeria in 1868 by Archbishop Charles Lavigerie.

The first four novices received the habit on Feb. 2, 1869. Their habit consists of a long white woolen tunic, the slightly modified typical Arab attire for which they are nicknamed.

The Arab attire was a sign of the missionaries' willingness to adapt to the usage and customs of the local villages, a key characteristic of the institute.

The objectives of this society of apostolic life are to offer Christian witness in Muslim villages, to proclaim the Gospel in Africa, and to promote Christian unity in the Middle East.