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Kwango

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(Prefecture Apostolic)

Kwango is the name of a river which flows into the Kassai, which itself is a tributary of the River Congo. This mission ( missio Kwangensis ) formed a part of the Vicariate Apostolic of Belgian Congo till April, 1892, when a decree was issued, entrusting this new mission to the Jesuit Fathers of the Belgian province. The late Father Emil von Henexthoven (1852-1906) was its first superior. He left Belgium on 6 March, 1893 with two fathers, one scholastic, and two lay brothers, and reached the mission towards the end of May. Unfortunately, owing to the hardships of the voyage, one of the fathers died on the way. By decree of 30 January, 1903, the Kwango mission was made a prefecture Apostolic (Præfectura Apostolica Kwangensis), the first prefect Apostolic being Father Julian Banckaert, S.J., whose residence is in Kinsantu, the chief mission station. The prefecture comprises the civil districts of Eastern Kwango and that of Stanley Pool as far to the north as the River Kassai. It is located between 4° to 8° S. latitude and 15° to 20° E. longitude. Its boundaries are to the north the river Kassai, to the east the range of hills between the River Loange and Jjuma; to the south Portuguese territory; to the west the River Inkisi and the railway to Leopoldville. The sisters of Notre Dame de Namur have two important institutions at Kinsantu and Nlemfu, where they provide for more than one thousand native girls. Julian Banckaert, S.J., was born at Bruges in 1847, entered the diocesan seminary, and was ordained in 1871. He joined the Society of Jesus in 1875 and was sent to Bengal in 1878. There he was successively a missionary, superior of the mission, and military chaplain until, in 1901, he was sent to the Kwango mission.

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