Catholic Information Service for Botswana, South Africa and Swaziland
SNIPPETS FROM THE 1ST BIANNUAL PLENARY SESSION
SOUTHERN AFRICAN CATHOLIC BISHOP’S CONFERENCE,
All bishops were in attendance except Bishop Frank Nubuasah SVD of Francistown, Botswana who was represented by Fr Sylvester Kaemana. The vacant see of Port Elizabeth was represented by its diocesan administrator, Monsignor Brendan Deenihan.
Bishop Xavier Munyongani of Gweru represented the Zimbwabean Catholic Bishops’ Conference. Frs Richard Menatsi and Oskar Wermter SJ represented Inter-Regional Meeting of the Bishops ofSouthern Africa (Imbisa).
The Mass of the Holy Spirit was celebrated in the packed Cathedral of Our Lady of Assumption.
In his homily, Bishop Kevin Dowling CSsR of Rustenburg shared about his HIV/Aids ministry and stressed that God needs each and every one to reach those in need.
Centenary and Installation
In the afternoon of Saturday the 25th January, the bishops visited Mater Dolorosa Parish,Mbabane to offer a short prayer where the first four missionaries arrived on the 27thJanuary 1914. Following the Swazi traditional expectation, the showers of rain accompanied the bishops on this short ad fontes pilgrimage.
On Sunday morning, over 5000 people filled the Don Bosco Sports Theatre to celebrate the centenary of Catholic presence in Swaziland and to witness the installation of their new bishop, Jose Luis Geraldo Ponce de Leon IMC.
The Royal representative and the Prime Minister thanked the Catholic Church for her contribution to the advancement of the Swati people.
Bishop Hubert Bucher, emeritus of Bethlehem, led the bishops in reflection based on the recent papal encyclical Evangelium Gaudium focusing on the bishop himself as well as his relationship with the people of the diocese and brother bishops.
Archbishop Stephen Brislin thanked all who made it possible to hold this conference in Swaziland for the first time. He reported that the Apostolic Nuncio is on medical leave. Being the 20th anniversary and the year of elections in Botswana and South Africa, he urged the bishops reflect on the Church-state relations. He also shared about his recent visit to Israel and Palestine. The bishops of the SACBC will go on ad limina visit to Rome (22 April – 2 May 2014l)
Holy See’s Representative’s Address
The secretary to the Apostolic Nuncio, Monsignor Kevin Randall, conveyed best wishes of the Holy Father. He urged the bishops to “preach Christ crucified and risen” and asked them to emulate pope Francis in exuding Joy and Dynamism
Swazi secular media (Swazi TV, radio, Times and Observer) provided balanced cover of both the plenary and the centenary celebrations.
Launch of Aids Book
On the 25th January evening, about 80 people gathered at the Bishop’s House in Manzini for a launch of the new book, “Catholic Responses to HIV/Aids”. This book is the fruit of the January 2013 conference convened by the St Joseph’s Theological Institute and the SACBC Aids Office. Swazi civil representatives and Aids activists attended the launch.
Sad news were revealed is that due to withdrawal of Pepfar and other funding, Aids office will be downsizing considerably.
Fr Thomas Plastow SJ has been appointed the new rector of St Francis Xavier Orientation Seminary. Frs Mandla Gwacela (Mariannhill) and Sibusiso Zulu (Eshowe) have joined the staff of St John Vianney Seminary.
Bishop Graham Rose will attend the SACC Tri-ennial Conference. Bishop Zolile Mpambani SCJ will represent the SACBC at the annual plenary inMaseru (February 2014)
Synod on the Family’s Survey
The bishops reviewed and approved the collated report that will be sent to Rome.
Though the conference has not announced 2014 as the year of the family, some dioceses have proclaimed this year. The conference, however, resolved that each diocese will organise family day celebrations in the diocesan, deanery or parish level.
Workshop on Clergy Wellness
Monsignor Stephen Rossetti led the bishops on the wellness programmes for the clergy based on his experience in the US, UK, Australia, New Zealand, etc. He stressed that the conference should undertake research to provide accurate knowledge of its particular situation and thus be in a position to respond adequately.
Visit and Address by the Chief Rabbi
The conference received, Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein, to chart the way for Catholic-Jewish dialogue in Southern Africa. The Israeli-Palestine relations as well as a possibility of providing basic rabbinic training to seminarians were discussed.
After a long deliberation and insightful discussions, the conference formulated two statements: on elections and the 20th anniversary of democracy. These will be released shortly.