By Fr. Limukani Ndlovu
Scores of Catholics thronged the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima on Saturday 28, 2023 for a day of prayer. The day’s activities were organized by and for combined adult associations and guilds. The gathering comprised of members from the Catholic Young Adult Association, St. Joseph’s Association, Catholic Women of St. Anne’s, Sodality of Our Lady, Sacred Heart of Jesus Guild, Catholic Women’s League, Legion of Mary, Catholic Nurses’ Guild and Family and Marriage Apostolate group.
The program started with a discernment process where people went into groups that were led by a synodal facilitation team member. In line with the Archdiocese of Bulawayo 2023 Pastoral Resolution 1(2), people are expected to take up roles and responsibilities in the Church. People were encouraged to participate in pastoral, liturgical, administrative, and social activities of the Church.
Pope Benedict XVI once said, “Missionary outreach (through ministry) is a clear sign of the maturity of an ecclesial community”. Today we may as well say that ministry is a thermometer for the life of a parish. Through lay ministries, the Church responds to different pastoral, liturgical, administrative and civic or social needs at any given time. Through ministry the Church becomes truly prophetic.
The program was motivated by the worldwide synodal process, where it was noted that “ministries in the Church are still not well-articulated” (Document for the Continental Stage #48) although at the same time reports “express a deep desire to recognise and reaffirm…renewal of life and ministries in the Church” (DCS57). In Archdiocesan introduction of the pre-synodal Synthesis it came out clearly that the “Holy Spirit is guiding…ministry today”. Many lay ministries have not yet taken root (cf. Diocesan Pre-synodal Synthesis #2.4). There is no one ministry which is bigger than the other (1 Cor 12:1-11) since all of them are for the service of the Church.
Pilgrims braved the scorching heat as they prayed the Stations of the Cross with a candle procession before celebration of holy mass in one of the Archdiocese of Bulawayo biggest Church which they filled to capacity. This was followed by adoration and an “Invitation to renewal” according to Ephesians 4:22-24. In his key pastoral and catechetical address, Archbishop Alex unpacked this year’s pastoral theme which is “Revival and renewal of the Church through synodality”. Quoting Pope Francis, the Archbishop challenged each member of Christ’s faithful to “not put obstacles to the renewing action of the Spirit, first in our hearts and in our lifestyles. Only in this way can we become missionaries of hope!” He emphasized on the need for renewal at different levels of people’s lives. Archbishop Alex urged Catholics to get involved in serving the Church.
“Serve God and his Church. Your gifts demonstrate God’s presence in you. Your gifts equip you for ministry and the Church needs you” said the Archbishop.
The main message of the homily by the Archbishop was to encourage the faithful to remain strong in faith, to be courageous in the face of challenges and to have hope and become new creatures who are the salt and light to the earth.