By Minister Jackson Dube
Priests from the Diocese of Hwange and the Archdiocese of Bulawayo converged at Emthonjeni Pastoral Centre in Bulawayo for a Winter School which was which could not take place as scheduled due to Covid 19 and financial constraints. The theme of the workshop which serves as an ongoing formation for the clergy was “Pastoral and Missionary Conversion (Evangelii Gaudium 25): Towards a more Synodal Church in Zimbabwe”.
From the 7th to the 10th of November 2022, the clergy keenly participated in various sessions. Four pertinent topics discussed were on Missionary formation of the agents of Evangelization, the Pontifical Mission Societies, Synodality and Reform of Church structures and Child Safeguarding.
Dr. Fr. Ferdinard Mubvigwi, a pastoral theologian and coordinator for the on-going formation for the clergy, presented on Missionary formation of Agents of Evangelization. He challenged participants to urgently embrace and embark on new evangelization with vigor, warmth and pragmatic methods.
The national Pontifical Mission Societies (PMS) director, Fr. Kizito Nhundu, quizzed priests on their knowledge about the four Pontifical Mission Societies. He highlighted on the founders, mandates and structures of the Pontifical Mission Societies. Fr. Nhundu challenged the clergy to play an active role in providing information and formation about PMS. He appealed to priests to encourage the faithful to generously support the obligatory collections targeted for PMS, namely, the Society of the Propagation of Faith, the Society of St. Peter the Apostle, the Missionary Union of Priest and Religious, and the Missionary Childhood Association. The take home lesson was that the collections earmarked for these programs must be the main ones and not the so-called second collections.
Delivering on Synodality and Reform of Church structures, Fr. Mgcini Moyo, the current National Pastoral Coordinator under the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops’ Conference lamented the dwindling numbers of practicing Catholics in the Church. He urged all the Priests to share in the vision of renewing the Church as he expressed that the Catholic population had fallen from 12 percent to around 7 percent in the recent years.
Fr. Moyo said, “Priests have to work hard to meet the everyday life realities that challenge people. Otherwise the Church will be irrelevant and extinct”.
He urged both the laity and the clergy to share the vision of the universal church which is clearly outlined in the Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium by Pope Francis. The Pope presents a roadmap of reform and evangelization in a synodal way.
The last session on child safeguarding was facilitated by Mrs. Sheila Kaseke whjo gave thought-provoking insights on parenting styles, pastoral care of children and vulnerable adults. Without missing a beat, Mrs. Kaseke challenged priests to “take a strong stance on marriages of convenience which result in vulnerability of either part and also to participate in the reform of certain laws which seem to be ineffective in supporting family structures”.
At the close of the workshop, everybody was not only grateful but burning with a new zeal for the mission. Gratitude was extended to all stakeholders who supported the priests’ on-going formation workshop.