By Fr. Limukani Ndlovu
The Archbishop of Bulawayo, Diocesan Synodal Team and Extended Synodal Team together with the Synthesis Team invited delegates from the length and breathe of the Metropolitan See to come and witness and participate in the Archdiocesan Pre-synodal Meeting which took place at the Cathedral Minor Basilica on 28 May, 2022. It was a moment of joy and gratitude as the diocesan Pre-synodal Synthesis document was presented to Archbishop Alex Thomas during the celebration of the Eucharistic celebration.
Among the delegates were representatives of the Diocesan Pastoral Council, parish pastoral councils, representatives of the Religious congregations, executive leaders of various Lay Associations and Movements, Voluntary Catechists, Deans and their Secretaries, Youth and MCA coordinators, Spiritual Directors and representatives from different Lay Ministries. Some of the distinguished guests who graced the phenomenal occasion were representatives from some of the mainline churches such as the Anglican community, the Brethren in Christ Church and the Lutheran church. The interreligious encounter with the leader of the International Traditional Healers Association could not go unnoticed as he gratefully and openly shared his experience of being discriminated and despised by some of the Christian denominations and now in the spirit of synodality welcomed with open arms.
The program began with the Papal anthem which was then followed by the synodal hymn
and the prayer for the synod. Afterwards, the audience was captivated by a vibrant
and well-crafted play and dance performed by the young persons from Our Lady of
Lourdes Parish. The presentation by the young people demonstrated the inter- connectedness and message of the Synod theme For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation and Mission.
After the presentation by the youth, Ms. Louise Nkomo meticulously took the delegates through the summary of synthesis with the aid of power point. Accordingly, people’s reactions and comments were solicited by Mrs. Addis Hlomani. The majority of the respondents expressed gratitude for the input and insights captured in the document under the auspices of the fruits of the synodal process.
During his address, Archbishop Alex Thomas was profoundly grateful of the dedication of the entire Synodal Team. He told delegates that he remains willing to listen to anyone at any time by any means. He added that the Archdiocese has basic structures that enable dialogue and ‘journeying together’, right from Small Christian Communities to the Archdiocesan level. However, he noted that there are still “areas that need improvement” and will strive towards ensuring no one is left behind as we journey together in announcing the Gospel. The Archbishop emphasized that the Church is a, “genuine Mother” who embraces everyone. Hence the need to empower everyone, both within and without to participate in the Mission of Christ. He reiterated the need to accommodate better the differently abled and the minority groups. Directing his comments to Lay Associations, the Archbishop warned, “Associations are not decorations!” but avenues for spiritual and moral growth, to pray together, to talk about the faith together, to understand one another better, and to encounter Christ. The Archbishop also challenged leaders of various ecclesial communities such as Parish Councilors and those in different ministries to be properly catechized so that with the correct Catholic knowledge they may lead faithfully as servant leaders. Priests and the Religious were encouraged to maintain professional conduct. The Archdiocesan pre-synodal process ended with the celebration of the holy mass which is the “source and summit” of Catholic faith.