By Fr. Limukani Ndlovu
All Pastoral Directors from various dioceses serve from the Archdiocese of Harare converged in Kwekwe at the Chiginya House for the first National Pastoral Team meeting. The two-day meeting started ran from 2-3 February 2023 and was chaired by the national Pastoral Director Fr. Mugcini Moyo.
Rev. Dr. Lovemore Mutombwa, a scripture scholar from the diocese of Masvingo gave an exegesis on the text from Isaiah 54:1-4 from which the title of the Working Document for the Continental Synodal Stage (DCS) is drawn, “Enlarge the space of your tent”. In his presentation, he brought insights about the barren woman, the widowed woman and the woman with her husband and children. “The woman with her husband and children symbolizes Israel with her spouse Yahweh, coupled with the blessing of fertility”, said Rev. Mutombwa.
According to his analysis, the prophet clearly speaks to this woman as he says, “enlarge the space of your tent, and let the curtains of your habitations be stretched out…” (v. 2).
The enlargement of the tent indicates that Israel is growing and God is bestowing his blessing on her. Contextualizing the text, Fr. Mutombwa convincingly explained that the prophecy of Isaiah “speaks to us in the contemporary context of synodality”. For him, and rightly so, the Church must seek productiveness as evidence of life and blessing from God. Therefore, a Church without the zeal and strength to enlarge, a Church without the zeal for evangelization is barren and does not reflect the promise of God. At the same time, “a Church which forgets her spouse and moves alone, forgets the very reason for her existence. It is a widowed church”. He said the “ideal image of a synodal Church is one which is alive with the zeal to grow without forgetting faithfulness to Christ”.
The intensive program also included the prayer methodology of a spiritual conversation as a discernment process (Vademecum, Appendix B, #8) this time focusing on the content and message of the Document of the Continental Stage. Discernment and dialogue focused on the three key points of the DCS number 106. The process also called for the setting up of a session for lectio divina method of prayer.
Fr. Sola gave a detailed presentation on the Canonical prescriptions on the remuneration of clergy, Mass offerings and stole fees.
Fr. Sola said: “following the diocesan phase of the 2021 Synodal process of the Synod on Synodality, the episcopal synthesis raised a number of issues that require consideration by the ZCBC. One of the issues has to do with the remuneration, stole fees, offerings and honorarium. “
He pointed out that part of the findings highlighted in the process concerned liturgical celebrations and spiritual gatherings which are used as occasions for fundraising by the priests (ZCBC Synod Synthesis, #21). Fr. Sola expressed hope that the bishops’ conference would look into the issue and come up with a solution.