Chad is a land-locked country of about 8 million inhabitants. The north is predominantly Muslim while the south is Christian and traditional religionists. The French came into the country in 1900 and left in August 1960; giving way to what could be called political independence. But there is still very strong political and economic French presence here like in all other countries of the continent colonized by France.
It has had its own share of instability and political greed African countries and their leaders are known for. It fought a civil war in 1979 and had a famine in 1983-84. There are also wars going on in the north of the country and in the east on its border with Libya and Sudan, respectively.
Catholic Church in Chad
Chad is the last country to be entered by Christianity in Africa. This is because of its position on the continent. Being locked up in the middle of the continent, it was very difficult for missionaries to penetrate it earlier that 1930's The first missionaries came here in 1930's through The Central African Republic in the south and northern Cameroon in the west.
Catholicism first came to southern Chad in the present day Sarh in 1930 through the French Spiritans religious order. However, real evangelization started in 1939. The Spiritans later left and were replaced by the Capuchins, the Oblates, the Jesuits and the Combonians who did great work in the whole country.
There are seven dioceses and a prefecture in the country, including N'djamena Archdiocese, Sarh, Mondou, Lai, Pala, Gore, and Doba dioceses, and the prefecture of Mongo. Of the eight, six are in the south while only N'djamena and Mongo prefecture are in the middle belt. There is none in the north as N'djamena covers the rest of the country. Of the seven bishops and an administrator, two are indigenous diocesans, incidentally, both of them have their roots in Sarh diocese, and were ordained priests the same day in 1977. Among the others, two are Jesuits, two Combonians, one Oblate, and one Capuchin. Of this number, there are two French, two Italians, one Canadian, and one Spaniard. The make-up of the hierarchy shows the sort of variety in the Church in Tchad. This variety contributes so much to its richness and beauty.
Most of the dioceses have a radio station that broadcasts daily. There are two senior seminaries in the country, one in Sarh and the other in N'djamena, and about seven junior seminaries. The lay people are strongly involved in the Church here. They participate as long as they do not have to pay money. Perhaps, they would have readily paid if they had, but sadly they do not have. It is a fact of life that here most families sleep on an ordinary mat or on the bare floor as they just cannot afford anything better. The sacrament of reconciliation is twice or thrice in a year.
The Sarh Diocese was created on 22 December 1961 from the old Fort-Archambault (Southern Chad). It covers the area of 47,000KM2 and has about 747,741 inhabitants of more than ten tribes. Though Sara, the language of the dominant tribe, Sar, is commonly used, some of the parishes use other languages in the villages. The Christians (Catholics and Protestants) represent 49% of the population while the Muslims represent 26% and the rest traditional religionists. The first bishop of the diocese was a Jesuit. The current bishop, Edmond Djitantar, is the third, was ordained a priest at the age of 25 and was ordained a bishop in 1992 at the transfer of the former bishop to Mondou in 1991.
As at 1997 when the first MSP priests came to Sarh, the diocese had eight priests. Today, it has nineteen active indigenous priests (the bishop included), and eighteen senior seminarians of which three of them are deacons. There are about seventy other missionaries (priests, religious, and the lay) from nineteen countries of all the continents working here.