Wednesday, September 18, 2019
From the 10th to 13th of September 2019, participants from the 9 provinces of APDESAM met in Johannesburg for their sub-continental assembly of the Mission Secretariat. The last assembly was organized in 2016 on Urban Ministry before the reform of the secretariats. Of the 9 provinces, 7 were able to send their secretary, 2 sent a delegate.
The names are the following (north to south): Fr. Arlindo Ferreira Pinto (representative from Rome), Fr. Mboka Ngere Faustin (Egypt/Sudan), Fr. Gaim Haileslassie (Eritrea), Fr. Masini Corrado (Ethiopia), Fr. Schmidt Gregor Bog-Dong (South Sudan), Fr. Ochola Robert Lukwiya (Uganda), Fr. Bitia Mbowaka Jean Paul (Kenya), Fr. Kasitomu James Milward (Malawi/Zambia), Fr. Crespim Cabral de Benfica Baraja (Mozambique), Fr. Rojas Zevallos Ibercio (South Africa) and Fr. Burgers Jude Eugene (Provincial of South Africa).
The assembly had 3 parts: In the first part, Fr. Anthony Egan SJ was invited to speak on the economic and political situation of the African continent, the situation of the Catholic Church, the relevance of the document Ad Gentes (Vat. II) for today and the development of the Church since the 2nd African Synod and the document Africa Munus. The participants shared in small groups and in the plenary how the various inputs relate to their local context.
In the second part of the assembly, each participant presented the activities of his provincial mission secretariat and how the local secretariat is structured after the reform of secretariats at our generalate in Rome, putting into consideration the main sectors of evangelization, JPIC and mission promotion besides other optional sectors. Many provinces unite the work of mission promotion with vocation promotion in one person, although the 2 sectors belong to different secretariats in Rome.
In the third part of the assembly, we founded the sub-continental council of mission which is supposed to advice the meeting of APDESAM provincials. We sketched a broad outline of the statutes (nature, purpose and tasks) and elected 3 members who will always be chosen among the provincial secretaries and who will collaborate with the APDESAM provincial in charge of mission, currently Fr. Richard Kyankaaga. For the first term of 3 years, the secretaries of the following provinces are selected: Fr. Nyakundi Isaiah Sangwera from Ethiopia (representing the region Egypt/Sudan, Eritrea and Ethiopia), Fr. Jean Paul Bitia from Kenya (representing the region Uganda, South Sudan and Kenya) and Fr. James Kasitomu from Malawi/Zambia (representing the region Malawi/Zambia, Mozambique and South Africa). Fr. James has been proposed as the coordinator of the sub-continental council.
Letter from the General Council to the participants
in the APDESAM Continental Assembly on the mission
Dear confreres, participants of the Continental Council of Mission of APDESAM,
May the Peace of the Lord accompany you during your gathering and receive warm greetings from Rome where we are in Consulta.
As you meet in South Africa to reflect about mission, that is the core of our endeavors and our raison d’être, we would like to share with you some points in line with the journey of the Institute. The General Chapter of 2015 has highlighted some criteria for our mission that we believe can help us to keep focus on the priorities of the Institute. We are called to be in a constant attitude of going forth and this is materialized when we get closer to the poor because their existence shows to us where the light of the Gospel is more urgent, or in other words, we evangelize and are evangelized by them. Considering the present situation of our mission context in the sub-continent, we feel very close to the people of your circumscriptions. In a particular way, as you are hosted in the Province of South Africa, we are in solidarity with those who suffer at this time of unrest and we pray that peace will soon prevail.
Among your topics for reflection in your assembly, there is a reading of the reality of Africa today. Comboni had a deep interest and knowledge on the cultures he lived in. As well as the social, economic and political dimensions of the countries where he carried out his mission. In the same manner, we are also invited to deepen our knowledge of these aspects so that we can better understand the people in their wholistic milieu. Only in this way we will be able to walk with them with a common language sharing their joys, sorrows and hopes.
Another important question that you pose to yourself is the meaning of ad gentes in Africa nowadays. This is a very relevant reflection that is also being considered by the whole Church as we approach the extraordinary missionary month next October. For our Institute, born with a clear vocation towards the ad gentes, it is paramount to make this matter alive in today’s world. We may not find clear answer, but what is even more important is to open new paths in our mission with creativity and courage, even if that means to renounce to some structures or methodologies from the past. The last Chapter offered some intuitions in line with what we believe the Spirit is telling us as Comboni Missionaries. Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation is an essential dimension that permeates all we do. We are also invited to rethink our mission in ministerial lines, that involves moving towards a more inclusive and collaborative attitude and approach.
The Institute wants to strengthen the work and coordination of the continents. We hope this assembly accomplishes the task of setting up the Continental Council for Mission of APDESAM. This can be a valuable instrument to help your circumscriptions in coordinating mission activities, fostering reflection and keeping track of the implementations of common projects that eventually may come up.
We are united with you in prayer through the intercession of S. Josephine Bakhita and S. Daniel Comboni,
The General Council
Rome, 9th September 2019
Solemnity of St. Peter Claver, Patron of the Institute