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  • Bishops in South Africa Call for a More Effective Regulation of Banks

    The Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC) || By Bishop Abel Gabuza || 20 February 2017

    bishops for bank regulations in south africa 2017Bishop Gabuza, the chairperson of SACBC Justice and Peace Commission, has called on the Parliament’s Standing Committee on Finance to consider further regulation of banks if the banks are found guilty of collusion by the competition tribunal.

    “If the tribunal confirms commission’s findings, we urge the treasury and the standing committee on finance to institute more effective regulation of banks, in furtherance of the common good, to prevent further market abuse.” Says Bishop Gabuza.

    According to Bishop Gabuza, this should include efforts to speed up the finalisation of the Financial Regulation Bill. “We particularly insist on the establishment of the market conduct regulator.”

    Bishop Gabuza has commended the standing committee on finance for its efforts to appraise the concentration levels in the banking sector.

    “In any sector, when too much power is concentrated in too few hands, the biggest losers are often the poor and low income earners.   In so far as it is undertaken in a manner which is consistent with international benchmarks and the interests of the poor, we support government efforts to break the dominance of South Africa’s largest banks and increase access to the economy.”

    Bishop has also called for stronger culture of ethics in the banking sector. “The bank collusion is a reminder that we need to strengthen ethical infrastructure in the financial sector.   We are often worried that, since the banking sector is important for increased investment and faster economic growth, it is often treated as if it is a sector that should be above ethics and the law.   Just like other sectors, the banking sector should be subjected to ethical imperatives and regulatory frameworks that promote the common good. Profit making and greed should not be the only guiding principles.” Added Bishop Gabuza.

    SACBC Justice and Peace Commission “shall continue to speak out against corruption in the financial sector, with the same vigour that we use when we condemn corruption in the public sector. Both private sector corruption and public sector corruption arise from the spirit of greed and the worship of money. Both constitute stealing from the poor. Both divert resources necessary to uplift the poor from poverty and destitution. We shall not therefore remain silent in the face of any corruption and fraud.”

  • Zimbabwe Catholic Students for Healthy Lifestyles

    Vatican Radio || By Pylaia Chembe || 20 February 2017

    zimbabwe catholic students for healthy lifestylesCatholic students of the National Movement of Catholic Students in Zimbabwe have challenged other young people and society, in general, to adopt healthy lifestyles and shun consumerism.

    Addressing delegates at the Southern Africa Summit in Chinhoyi, the International Movement of Catholic Students (IMCS) Pax Romana President, Edouard Pihewa Karoue challenged young people to lead unique and healthy lives for themselves and the environment.

    Karoue, who is from Togo, exhorted youths to be ingenious in solving problems in the wake of total dissatisfaction and insecurity.

    “When the heart is empty, one buys things to keep them and consume. It’s usually people who don’t have joy who keep buying things even when they don’t need them, and the ‘throwaway culture’ exacerbates the ecological crisis,” he said.

    He urged youths to realise that there is no perfect way to live but that  they must strive to adopt healthy lifestyles and avoid participating in ‘collective selfishness’ which is caused by consumeristic cultures.

    Pope Francis, in his 2015 document on the environment (Laudato Sì: On care of our common home) wrote that "when people become self-centred and self-enclosed, their greed increases. The emptier a person’s heart is, the more he or she needs things to buy, own and consume. It becomes almost impossible to accept the limits imposed by reality. In this horizon, a genuine sense of the common good also disappears.”

    More than thirty-five young delegates attending the IMCS Pax Romana Sub-regional summit in Chinhoyi, Zimbabwe discussed how young people’s involvement in the promotion of environmental care could change the face of Africa and create safer and cleaner societies foryoung people.

    The students’ Summit themed ‘The renewal of the African continent is in our hands’ held recently was attended by delegates from South Africa, Botswana, Zambia, Malawi, Lesotho and the hosts, Zimbabwe.

    Zimbabwe’s Catholic students President, Tinotenda Wakabikwa (University of Zimbabwe) said the summit would benefit not only Catholic students but the entire students as the proceedings motivated students to work for a better and renewed Africa.

    He encouraged student-leaders to engage national leaders on issues that affect students and to promote dialogue towards a healthier society.

    Also present at the Summit was Patrick Muchalwa, IMCS Pax-Romana African Coordinator from Kenya and Sameh Kamel the IMCS Pax- Romana United Nations representative who hails from Egypt.

    Source: Vatican Radio…

  • Church in Ghana to Re-Consecrate Nation to the Sacred Heart During Diamond Anniversary Celebrations

    CANAA || By Damian Avevor, Ghana || 20 February 2017

    reconsecrating ghana to sacred heart 2017The Catholic Church in Ghana is organising a Novena in spiritual preparation for the re-consecration of the Republic of Ghana to the Sacred Heart of Jesus on the occasion of the 60th anniversary celebration of Ghana’s independence.

    Ghana was first consecrated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus during Mass on 3 March 1957 at the Holy Spirit Cathedral of Accra. This was as a prelude to Ghana’s independence that was celebrated on 6 March 1957.

    The Novena, which is set to begin on February 23 and end on 3 will be followed by the re-consecration programme on March 4, as Ghana marks its Diamond Jubilee celebration March 6, 2017.

    A Planning Committee, headed by the Archbishop Charles G. Palmer- Buckle, Vice President of the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference (GCBC) has the mandate of working out the modalities for the spiritual celebration of the diamond jubilee of the country, which gained its independence from British colonial rule.

    The Holy Father, Pope Francis has appointed Giuseppe Cardinal Bertello, President of the Governatorate of Vatican City State as his special envoy to celebrations marking the 40th anniversary of the establishment of Diplomatic Relations between the Republic of Ghana and the Holy See as well as the 60th Independence Anniversary of the Republic of Ghana.

    The re-consecration will comprise an ecumenical and inter-faith Prayer Service. In attendance will be the Apostolic Nuncio to Ghana, Archbishop Jean-Marie Speich; the President of the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference, Archbishop Philip Naameh and other Bishops.

    The re-consecration on March 4, will take place during an Ecumenical and Inter-faith prayer service to be attended by the Apostolic Nuncio to Ghana, Archbishop Jean-Marie Speich; the President of the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference, Archbishop Philip Naameh; other Catholic Bishops, leaders of other Religious bodies and the State functionaries led by the President of Ghana, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo.

  • Shrine in Memory of Blessed Irene Stefani Unveiled in Kenya

    CANAA || By Father Don Bosco Onyalla, Nairobi || 20 February 2017

    blessed nyaatha shrine unveiledA shrine in honor of Blessed Irene Stefani “Nyaatha” was officially unveiled last Friday, February 17 in the Catholic Archdiocese of Nyeri in Kenya.

    Italian-born nun, Sister Irene Stefani arrived in Kenya in 1915 and served as a nurse, settling in Nyeri where she was nicknamed "Nyaatha", which means "mother of mercy" in Kikuyu language.

    Consisting of a chapel and an art gallery with chronological biography of Blessed Irene’s life history, the two-storey building shrine is located behind Our Lady of Providence Gikondi Parish, a mission where Sr. “Nyaatha,” a member of the Consolata Missionary Sisters, lived and worked.

    The shrine has been built around the foundations of the house where Blessed Irene lived for a period of 10 years before her death.

    The beatification of Blessed Irene Stefani took place on May 23, 2015 at Dedan Kimathi University of Technology in Nyeri, a ceremony that was officiated by Polycarp Cardinal Pengo of Dar es Salam, Tanzania, in his capacity as the Papal delegate for the beatification.

    This was the first beatification on the Kenyan soil.

    John Cardinal Njue of Nairobi Archdiocese presided over the unveiling ceremony.

    “Let the blessing of this shrine not be a formality,” Cardinal Njue said and added, “Let it be a house of prayer where you will go when you have joy, difficulties or challenges.”

    Acknowledging the honor brought to Kenya with the beatification of Blessed Irene, Cardinal Njue further appreciated the services of the Consolata Missionaries in the country.

    “They planted the seed and now it is our responsibility to water it and to weed it so that it can grow and produce more fruits,” Cardinal Njue said about the Consolata Missionaries in Nyeri, adding, “A heritage has been left and our challenge is to see how best that heritage can be bettered and left to those who will come later.”

    He went on call on the Consolata Missionary Sisters to consider returning to the Catholic Archdiocese of Nyeri and specifically to Gikondi explaining that their services are still required there.

    Meanwhile, the Regional Superior of the Consolata Missionary Sisters, Sr. Sarafina Sergi described the shrine as a physical sign of the presence of Blessed Irene among the people she loved and served.

    “This shrine is a house of mercy, love and reconciliation and it should be a place where we come to pray not only for our needs but to entrust the hand of God to all the people and the needs of our county and the world,” Sr. Sergi said.

    Cardinal Njue conducted the blessing rite in the presence of Archbishop Peter Kairo of Nyeri and Bishop Anthony Mukobo of Isiolo Vicariate.

  • Late Auxiliary Bishop of Mutare in Zimbabwe Leaves a Legacy of peace

    CANAA || By Br. Alfonce Kugwa || 16 February 2017

    legacy of peace by auxiliary bishop of mutare aAuxiliary Bishop of Mutare, Patrick Mumbure Mutume has died at 74 after suffering from kidney problems for nine years.

    The late bishop was buried at Triashill Cemetry some 60 km before the resort town of Nyanga. Bishop Mutume was known for his social justice activism that saw him being detained at Nyanga prison for defending human rights and advocating for majority rule in colonial Zimbabwe.

    Thousands of people from all walks of life including Catholic Bishops, the Papal Nuncio to Zimbabwe Archbishop Marek Zalewski, politicians, members of other churches and civic groups thronged St. Dominic’s High School grounds in Mutare on 11 February 2017 to bid farewell to Bishop Mutume who was described by many as a man who was all things to all people and a true hero of the gospel.

    The late Bishop Mutume was ordained Auxiliary Bishop of Mutare in 1979 at the time the late Bishop Donald Lamont was deported from the country because of his outspokenness against the injustices perpetrated by the colonial regime. So too Bishop Patrick Mutume could not compromise his faith and love for his country to the extent that he suffered until he saw Zimbabwe independent in 1980.

    Speaker after speaker described Bishop Mutume as a priest who contributed to the life of Zimbabwe and deserved the status of a national hero. Bishop Xavier Munyongani spoke highly of the late Mutume that he worked to unite Catholics in the country through the formation of the Zimbabwe Catholic Council of the Laity, (ZCCL).

    “Bishop Mutume toiled not only to establish political peace in the country but he also worked to unite all Catholics in Zimbabwe through the formation of ZCCL. By this, he wanted to show us the light of Christ and wanted all Christians to fight the devil through their faith,” said Bishop Munyongani.

    legacy of peace by auxiliary bishop of mutare bThe late bishop’s political involvement did not end with the struggle for independence but spilled into the post-independence struggles and crisis leading to the formation of a government of national unity between the ruling party ZANU-PF and the Movement for Democratic Change in 2009 when he, together with others, mediated to bring the two warring parties together.

    The retired Anglican Bishop, Sebastian Bakare described Mutume as a true man of God who was devoted to peace as witnessed by his courage to bring President Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai to a roundtable and forge the way forward in curbing problems bedeviling the nation.

    Bakare said: “Even on his death bed Mutume was involved and informed about happenings in the country. He was concerned why politicians in Zimbabwe were fanning violence at the expense of peace. He was a man committed to peace and tranquility.”

    Bishop Mutume was a brother, friend and father to people of Manicaland and the country at large. He helped different churches in Manicaland province to work together as one family under the banner of “Churches in Manicaland”.

    Zimbabwe Home Affairs Minister, Ignatius Chombo echoed the same sentiments that the late bishop was a peace maker who challenged the government to prioritize the process of peace and equality.

    Bishop Mutume was born on 31 October 1943 and ordained to priesthood on 3 September 1972. He succumbed to kidney failure on 8 February 2017.

  • Nuns in Malawi Challenged to Adapt to Changes

    Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM) || By Prince Henderson || 13 February 2017

    nuns in malawi challenged to adapt to changeBishop George Desmond Tambala of Zomba Diocese and the Bishop-Chairperson for Religious men and women in Malawi has challenged religious sisters to adapt to the social, economic and political changes that the world and Malawi, in particular, is experiencing.

    Bishop Tambala was speaking when he officially opened the 57th Plenary Session of the Association of Women Religious in Malawi (AWRIM) taking place for four days in the capital, Lilongwe.

    The Bishop said the current society of Malawi is undergoing profound changes that religious women need to be aware of and adapt to.

    “These are social changes that are affecting the way we think about God and our moral values. These Changes are founded on the denial of God from public life, stress on personal rights and freedom, over-emphasis on pleasure and cult of the body, democracy and loss of a sense of history and the future,” said Bishop Tambala.

    The Bishop of Zomba who is also a religious, belonging to the Order of Discalced Carmelites (OCD) said the commercialisation of politics on the part of politicians and parties is also a crucial matter. Instead, politics should be taken as a positive driving force for change in society.

    AWRIM Secretary General Sister Mary Magdalen Ndawala said the plenary which was held under the theme; ‘Impact of the changing world on religious life,’ was crucial because it was attended by 28 Superiors from different congregations of religious women serving the Lord in various dioceses of Malawi.

    “Basically, the objective was to empower the Sisters with what is happening in the world. Superiors as leaders have to know the changes in the world so that they (can) exercise their duties as leaders of Congregations,” said Sister Ndawala.

    She said as Sisters who are found in the social setting of society; they are equally affected by the economic, social and political changes happening hence the need for a shared approach on how to address these.

    “We expect the Superiors to share this with Sisters in their respective congregations. On economic change, we want them to advance resource mobilisation drive and be independent. Again, on social change, let them embrace the modern technologies, but that should be done responsibly so as to advance evangelisation. Finally, we are non-partisan, but we are mandated to advise politicians where necessary hence our engagement with politics,” Sister Ndawala said.

    Among the facilitators during the plenary was Fr. Andrew Kaufa, from the Society of Montfort Missionaries (SMM) and Director of Luntha Television and Fr. Emmanuel Chikaya of the Order of Discalced Carmelites (OCD).

    Source: Episcopal Conference of Malawi…

  • There is No Option to Inter-Religious Dialogue in Africa

    Vatican Radio || By Fr. Paul Samasumo || 16 February 2017

    no option for interreligious dialogue in africaThe Director of Mission and Dialogue at the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria, Fr. Cornelius Afebu Omonokhua has commended the new Gambian President, Adama Barrow for reversing an Executive Order signed by his predecessor Yahya Jammeh who, in 2015, declared Gambia an Islamic republic.

    In his first news conference on 26 January this year, President Barrow announced that Gambia would no longer be called the Islamic Republic as signed into law by Jammeh. President Barrow said that although the Gambia has 90 percent Muslim population, he wanted the country to be a secular republic. This is in a bid to promote and restore peace and unity among Muslims and Christians.  

    Fr. Cornelius Omonokhua who was until recently a member of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue's special Commission for Religious Relations with Muslims (CRRM) made these remarks in an article titled, “Religious relations with Muslims.” The article was released to the public after the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue, headed by Jean-Louis Cardinal Tauran, was received in the Vatican by Pope Francis on 9 February. 

    Fr. Omonokhua is of the view that politicians and religious leaders in Africa need to champion constitutions that unite people.

    “If every African Politician and Religious leader promoted the Constitution of the country and allowed Ecclesiastical and Sharia laws to be practiced in the private domain, no extremist would have any basis to destroy the unity of the nation,” he said.

    Speaking about his own country, Nigeria, Fr. Omonokhua said that suspicions were to be found both among Christians and Muslims.

    “The suspicion on the side of some Christians that there is an Islamic agenda to make Nigeria an Islamic State is deep and strong. This is heating up the polity of the nation. Some Christians keep using Turkey, Egypt, Lebanon and countries in the Middle East that were once 90% Christian and have now become 99% Muslims as case studies to buttress their fears and agitations,” said Fr. Omonokhua.

    Instead Fr. Omonokhua has called for harmonious co-existence between Muslims and Christians and encouraged Muslim-Christian societies to continue to live side-by-side notwithstanding the challenges of modern day terrorism. 

    “Despite the insurgencies and terrorism in different parts of the world, Christians and Muslims still live together with the conscious or unconscious practice of the dialogue of life, religious experience, friendship, encounter, social engagements, presence and theological exchange. It is evident (though) that mutual suspicion is still deep in the hearts of many people especially victims of violence in many parts of the world,” he said.

    Echoing the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue, Fr. Omonokhua asserted that there is no option to dialogue. He said Christians need to build capacities which would enable them to engage people of other religions, especially Muslims, in dialogue.  “This optimism remains valid even though many people are suffering from the effects of religiously motivated violence and terrorism,” said Fr. Omonokhua.

    Source: Vatican Radio…

  • New Bishop for Sudan’s El Obeid Diocese Appointed, SCBC President Welcomes Him to Conference

    CANAA || By Father Don Bosco Onyalla, Nairobi || 16 February 2017

    new bishop for el obeid diocese 2017Pope Francis has appointed Father Yunan Tombe Trille Kuku Andali as Bishop of El Obeid diocese, one of the two dioceses of Sudan, which together with the seven dioceses in South Sudan constitute the Sudan Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SCBC).

    SCBC President, Bishop Barani Eduardo Hiiboro of Tombura-Yambio has welcomed the Bishop-elect to the conference and expressed gratitude to Pope Francis for the Monday, February 13 appointment.

    “History is in detail of our time with the appointment of Fr. Trile Tombe Bishop of El-Obeid,” Bishop Barani told CANAA Thursday and added, “I am extremely grateful to the Holy Father who has appointed Fr. Yunan Tombe Trille Kuku Andali as bishop of Obeid gracing the year 2017 for us.”

    “I sincerely welcome Bishop-elect Rev. Trile Tombe into the college of Bishop of Bishops for Sudan and South Sudan,” Bishop Barani went on to say, adding, “This is indeed a great intervention by the Holy Father into our minority conference.”

    The Bishop-elect will be succeeding Archbishop Michael Didi who was appointed Coadjutor Archbishop of Khartoum in August 2015 and eventually succeeded Gabriel Cardinal Zubeir Wako. Cardinal Zubeir officially retired in December 2016.

    Until his appointment, 53-year old Father Trile Tombe has been serving as Rector of the Inter-diocesan St. Paul’s Major Seminary in Juba.

    “I know Father Trile personally, he was two classes ahead of me but we lived and shared room together,” Bishop Barani told CANAA, referring to the Bishop-elect as “not only a friend but (also) a brother!”

    “He is well-known and loved as a spiritual father. His experience as Rector of both Minor and Major Seminaries of the diocesan and National Major Seminary over many years has equipped him with expertise in governance and administration. He is deeply intelligent, gentle but firm, faithful and compassionate,” SCBC President revealed.

    Previously, the Bishop-elect served as parish collaborator in El Nahud, Nayala, El Fasher and Kadaguli (1991-1995); rector of the minor seminary of El Obeid (1995-2002); vicar general of the diocese (1997-2002) and pastor of All Saints Parish in Saraf Jamus.

    “In a sign of the changing face of the church in South Sudan and Sudan Bishop-elect Tombe will be the Second Nuba Bishop and first Nuba-Tira Bishop; his appointment also signals the growing strength of Nuba Catholics in the Sudan, one of the fastest growing ethnic groups in the Church in this country,” SCBC President told CANAA.

    Born in Torojo in Sudan and ordained priest in 1991, the Bishop-elect obtained his licentiate and doctorate in Canon Law from the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA) in Nairobi, Kenya.

    According to SCBC President, the Bishop-elect is expected to be consecrated in El-Obeid in early March 2017 before the Lenten period.  

    “The people and priests of El Obeid will be very blessed by the appointment of their new bishop,” Bishop Barani said, imploring all the faithful in Sudan and South Sudan “to pray for Fr. Trile and also that the Holy Father will be able to give us more ordinaries for the vacant dioceses of Malakal, Torit, Rumbek and possibly Wau.”

    Bishop Barani thanked the Bishop-elect “for accepting this service call" and wished him God's blessings. 

  • Sharing Voices of African Sisters

    Global Sisters Report (GSR) || By Melanie Lidman || 13 February 2017

    voices of african nunsIn October, when nearly 150 sisters came together in Nairobi from across Africa for the Hilton Foundation and African Sisters Education Collaborative Convening, most of the time was devoted to exploring the future of sisters and their ministries. What will the future of sisterhood look like in Africa? How will sisters cooperate with each other and other institutions? How will they solve problems like hunger or the lack of education or clean water?

    But before looking forward to the future, it is also essential to look back at the stories that shaped each sister on her journey to where she is today. By capturing and sharing these stories, it helps sisters understand where they've been, to have a clearer picture of where they are going.

    So just a few hours before the convening kicked off, Global Sisters Report led one of our writing workshops for sisters who are in leadership positions or are superiors general of their congregations.

    Here, sisters tell their stories.

    'I am doing what I am supposed to do'

    A challenge I overcame as a sister was when I was asked to start a program for street children, to combine my efforts with a priest and get it moving. I felt afraid, I was so troubled to imagine myself in the streets, speaking, walking, laughing and being surrounded by many children who lived there. Even though I knew well that I was called to do this and it was a "noble" activity, well related to my vocation, I was still afraid.

    When I started, it was at times frustrating, but slowly, slowly, with God's help, it started resonating with my system. One day, I found a girl who was very sick with wounds all over her body in the streets. I invited passersby to assist me to lift her. None accepted. I lifted her, made her sit, and talked to her. I got a lot of pus, which was oozing from her body, on my dress. She was smelly and very dirty. A passerby wanted to know what I was doing. I told him, "I am doing what I am supposed to do and happy to do for God's kingdom."

    He was moved. He told me, "I am a Catholic as well."

    I said to him, let's take her to the hospital. He hired a car. We took her to the hospital. People ran away from us due to her smell.

    She was later admitted to the hospital, I went the following day to shave her hair, which was like a piece of wood after so many years without bathing.

    We became friends. I invited other street children to visit her in the hospital. I was happy to walk in and out of the hospital with them. She recovered and we searched for her family.

    I really overcame the challenge of being with the children in the streets, the challenge of fearing being seen together with them. I was happy about this apostolate and if I had another chance, I would be so happy to do it.

     — Sr. Jane Mwangi, Dimesse Sisters (Daughters of Mary Immaculate), Kenya

    'A dilemma in decision making'

    Four years ago, there was a very threatening situation on Zanzibar Island, where our sisters serve. There are three communities with 11 sisters. On Zanzibar Island, 98 percent of the population is Muslim. Among them, there is a very small, anonymous and fanatic group that vowed to persecute Christians to the cost of their lives.

    In 2013, the lives of Christians were at stake as the fanatical fundamentalist group killed one of the priests with a shower of bullets, leaving him dead with a shattered body at the entrance of the parish compound, just as he was going to say Mass early on a Sunday morning. A few months later, as another priest was coming out of a cyber café, he had acid poured on him that left his face burnt beyond recognition. In the same period, a parish church next to the convent of our sisters was burnt. Meanwhile, at that same time, a threatening rumor was going around all over the island that this particular fanatic group was longing to chop off the head of a Catholic nun.

    This created in me a great anxiety as a leader, and it left the General Leadership Team of my congregation paralyzed and wondering what should be done to rescue the sisters from that dangerous situation.

    Every day, I would call the sisters in turn just to know if they were safe. Amazingly, the sisters were firm and determined to remain there, with the Christians that were camping with them in their convents and parish grounds.

    Actually, the sisters [in Zanzibar] made the decision; they encouraged us to continue praying for them and that is what we did. After six months, the situation gradually started becoming better. Thanks be to God that now there is a relative peace among the people.

     — Sr. Anna Mary Henrietta Nyangoma, superior general of the Missionary Congregation of the Evangelizing Sisters of Mary, Kenya

    'Many others are coming after you who will help'

    Here comes Margret Joshua, a young slim lady but with a seemingly urgent need. She looks 17 but is hardly able to carry herself quickly across the busy Karen Ngong Road. She is pregnant and sickly. All of a sudden, Margret uses her thin, feeble hand to gesture at me. I, on my part, am hurrying to the nearby church for the first Mass.

    I first of all hesitate to answer her call but, on second thought, I asked, "May I be of help to you?"

    It surprised her, because many Christians flocking to church had neglected her gestures, taking her for one of the serial beggars who stood by the roadside. She forcefully said, "Madam, help, I am hungry, I am sick, I am all badly off."

    Inside me, a strong voice was conflicted. "If you help this problematic youth, you'll be late for the service. Many others are coming after you that will help. Go, go." When another small, faint voice said, "Please stay, listen, and help this small girl."

    So, I yielded to the second voice, I went to Margret, listened, and loved. It was an appalling situation. She was bleeding. There she was, a fellow woman in ardent need of direction to any nearby clinic or hospital to understand what the matter was. She told me a little of her story.

    "I am running away from my monster husband who beat me all night and told me to leave his home for he had no money to look after a fool of my caliber."

    I was awestruck as I led her to the hospital, where the nurses approached hurriedly after seeing me, and took care of us.

    On examination, the doctor said she had to be admitted, and I said it was OK, because we had to save two lives. Meanwhile, I was blank about how to pay the bill, but I trusted. In the meantime, I told them Margret Joshua was my relative. When they gave me the bill, I took it to my community. The sisters, after a long and serious discussion of not having enough money to pay for uncalled for bills and uncalled for charity, accepted to pay the bill.

    Margret is now a community friend. She has a healthy, kicking boy of 7 months. She visits our convent frequently for food and other family needs when the need arises. I have met her husband and counseled him and now he cares for and loves the baby boy dearly. They now both attend Sunday services and we are mediating them as a community to start instructing both of them in matrimony. They are eager to receive the sacrament.

     — Sr. Theresa Frances Namirembe, superior general of the Daughters of Mary Sisters (Bannabikira), Uganda

    A lucky first encounter

    I was first sent to explore the possibilities of opening a new mission in a very remote place [in Kenya], which had no known Christian presence. I went to a religious community that offered me a very warm welcome and hospitality. The following day, I met a visitor to the community and we began to interact with each other. When this visitor came to know the purpose of my visit, he was so happy and promised to take me to a remote village where people were very poor. Moreover, he told me that there is a small Christian presence in that area.

    Read more... Global Sisters Report… 

  • Divine Mercy Centre in Zimbabwe’s Capital Embarks on a Gigantic Church Project

    CANAA || By Br. Alfonce Kugwa || 13 February 2017

    divine mercy centre church in zimbabweThe Divine Mercy Centre, one of St. Francis of Assisi Parish’s eight centres under the Catholic Archdiocese of Harare, Zimbabwe, has embarked on a gigantic church construction project.

    The Centre is under Waterfalls and is located in Mainway Meadows Suburbs of Zimbabwe’s capital, Harare.

    The project that started in 2014 is estimated to cost the centre some US$800,000.00 most of which is raised through local fundraising efforts including dinner dances and levies on families.

    The church is expected to have a carrying capacity of 2,000 people once it is completed.

    Construction is following prescribed phases, to allow the beneficiaries considerable time to fundraise before they can move on to subsequent phases.

    The chairperson of the centre, Mr. Maturure said that the center had targeted to complete the construction of the massive church in five years’ time but economic challenges seem to biting and forcing the centre to push the project forward.

    The church, which lies adjacent to Mother Patrick Primary School beams its roof above all structures in Mainway Meadows.

    The growing population of Catholics under St. Francis of Assisi parish resulted in the parish opening eight centers to cater for the Catholic faithful.

    This influenced the construction of Divine Mercy Church as the catchment area is booming with Christians.

    The terraced church structure comprises of indoor toilets, priest’s office, meeting rooms, sacristy and store rooms.

    The Parishioners used to attend mass at Mother Patrick Primary School, which has become too small to accommodate the growing number of Catholics.

    “The suburb is growing with new areas beyond Mainway Meadows coming up. We used to attend mass in the school hall at the Mother Patrick Primary School which is very small for our growing population and this led us to think about constructing this church,” Mr. Maturure said.

    Mr. Maturure also said that although levying families proved a strategy to go by, the money raised through this way was not enough to complete the project without assistance from the donor community.

  • Angola Hosts Luanda International Theological Week

    Vatican Radio || By Anastácio Sasembele || 09 February 2017

    the luanda international theological week 2017The just-ended 1st Luanda International Theological Week in Angola has been described as a success. The event which brought together theologians from around the world was in particular attended by Rectors of Theological Seminaries in Angola, Professors of the Faculty of Theology at the Universidade Católica de Angola (UCAN), priests, pastors of Christian Churches in Angola, academicians and researchers. Also in attendance were senior seminarians in their 4th year of Theology.

    The theme of the Theological Week was, "Theology in the face of today's challenges in Africa."

    During discussions and presentations, Theologians sought to reflect on what Theology has to say about some challenges facing the continent of Africa today such as, wars, hunger, disease and youth unemployment.

    One of the keynote speakers at the event was Diocesan priest from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Father Bénézet Bujo. Fr. Bujo is a leading Theologian and a Professor Emeritus of Moral Theology at the University of Fribourg. He spoke about Jesus Christ as "Our Ancestor" and as the "Ancestor Par Excellence" or Jesus the "Proto-Ancestor."

    The Archbishop emeritus of Huambo, in Angola, Francisco Vitti hailed the conference as a success.

    In his closing remarks, the Archbishop of Luanda, Archbishop Filomeno do Nascimento Vieira Dias, congratulated participants on the high level of reflections and presentations. He recommended the deepening of themes discussed.

    Source: Vatican Radio… 

  • Couple Donates Ethiopian Religious Manuscripts to Catholic University

    Catholic News Service (CNS) || By Mark Pattison || 10 February 2017

    couple donates ethiopian religious manuscriptsA massive donation of Ethiopian religious manuscripts to The Catholic University of America in Washington makes the school one of the largest holders of such texts outside Ethiopia.

    The value of the donation, by Gerald and Barbara Weiner of Chicago, is estimated to be more than $1 million. The collection includes more than 215 Islamic manuscripts, 125 Christian manuscripts, and 350 so-called "magic" scrolls with prayers to protect the owner or reader from particular illnesses.

    What makes the manuscripts valuable is that they're handmade, according to Aaron Butts, an assistant professor of Semitic languages and literature at Catholic University. What makes them rare, he added, is that such texts are rarely seen outside Ethiopia, and that the East African nation's rainy season often renders the books and scrolls unusable or illegible after repeated use. That so many texts -- most of which date back to the 18th and 19th centuries, with a few even older -- still survive, and in a usable condition, he told Catholic News Service, is "amazing."

    "Every one of them is a treasure," Butts said.

    The donation makes Catholic University the holder of the fifth largest collection of Ethiopian Christian manuscripts in the United States, and the largest collection of Ethiopian Islamic manuscripts outside of Ethiopia.

    Butts said Gerald Weiner had hoped to collect holy books from Ethiopian Judaism, but "when he realized how few were available, he started collecting books from Ethiopian Christianity and Islam."

    Although modern bookbinding techniques exist in Ethiopia, the nation's religious leaders still greatly prefer to use handmade books. Their makers use the skins of sheep, goats and cattle to make the books; even the "parchment" pages come from these animal hides.

    Each book's contents also must be written by hand with ink. Frequently, there are illustrations in the books -- and definitely on the scrolls -- making the production of even one book a prolonged and relatively costly venture.

    Butts explained that the scrolls are not regarded as official prayer texts by Ethiopian Christian leaders, "but the people who use them use them as prayers." The prayers ask for divine help for any number of maladies, headaches among them, he said, but some focus on pains only experienced by women, such as they experience with menstruation and childbirth. "This may be why religious leaders have not thought of them as official," he added.

    The edges of some pages of the books are so dark they look like they had been burned. Rather, Butts said, "it's dirt from the hands" of the user. Some books have "illuminated" illustrations that display their brilliance despite the passage of time, and contain writing underneath the illustration legible to a sharp reader.

    Included in the donation were a trio of Ethiopian Christian liturgical texts featuring Gospel passages on one page, and homilies from saints on the next. The tomes are massive in size, each likely containing 200 or so pages with generous margins bordering each page "as a symbol of the wealth" of the religious figure who commissioned the three-volume set, Butts said, adding "Imagine how many animals, how much ink was used" to complete the set, with the writing of each book taking at least several months to complete.

    Butts told CNS that the Weiners wanted to make sure the recipient of the gift would be able to provide access to the collection. Catholic University will be able to provide not only scholars and students with access, but also Washington's Ethiopian-American community.

    The Washington area is rivaled only by the much larger Los Angeles metropolitan area for the size of its Ethiopian community. There is a particular concentration of Ethiopian restaurants and shops -- including an Ethiopian evangelical church -- along the border of Washington with the suburb of Silver Spring, Maryland, and many Ethiopian-American men make their living as taxi drivers.

    The donated books and scrolls are still being assessed for their relative durability after two or three centuries. When the assessment is complete, which Butts hopes will be sometime in the spring, Catholic University will invite the Weiners to attend a reception marking the donation.

  • “The much expected change has been slowed down”: Catholic Bishops of Ibadan Province in Nigeria Decry

    CANAA || By Father Don Bosco Onyalla, Nairobi || 09 February 2017

    expected change slowing in nigeria 2017Catholic Bishops under the Ibadan Ecclesiastical Province in Nigeria have lamented the many challenges their country is experiencing under the nearly two-year old political leadership and called “on the government at all levels in Nigeria to continue to optimize strategies to bring about positive change in the nation.”

    “There is a growing sense of desperation in the general populace that the much expected change has been slowed down,” the Bishops have stated in their communique released at the conclusion of their first plenary meeting for the year 2017.

    The two-day meeting, which started on Monday, February 6 was held at the Jubilee Conference Centre at Oke-Ado in Ibadan.

    Some of the challenges the Bishops highlighted include the “proliferation of false information, violent clashes, calls for the break-up of Nigeria and pervasive criminality.”

    “It is necessary and urgent to restore the confidence of all Nigerians in the Nigerian nation,” the Church leaders stated in their communique titled “Restoring confidence in Nigeria.”

    The Bishops have also condemned “the needless loss of life in the Southern Kaduna” and argued that this crisis seems to confirm the “impression that government is lackadaisical in responding to the needs of some sections of the nation.”

    “This impression should not be allowed to take firm root,” the Church leaders continued, adding, “Government exists for all and must never be seen to favour any group or ignore the needs of another.”

    Below is the full text of the Bishops’ communique

    RESTORING CONFIDENCE IN NIGERIA

    A COMMUNIQUE ISSUED AT THE END OF THE FIRST MEETING OF THE CATHOLIC BISHOPS OF IBADAN PROVINCE FOR 2017 HELD AT THE JUBILEE CONFERENCE CENTRE, OKE-ADO, IBADAN. Feb 6-7, 2017

    PREAMBLE   

    We, the Catholic Bishops of Ibadan Ecclesiastical Province, after our first meeting for the year from Feb. 6-7, 2017, having prayed and deliberated over pertinent issues of Church and national interest, hereby issue the following communique:

    1. THE CBCN PLENARY IN IBADAN PROVINCE

    We thank God and take much pride in the successful hosting last September, of the Second Plenary Meeting of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) in Akure, Ondo Diocese, in September 2016. We express our special gratitude to the Bishop of Ondo Diocese Most Reverend Jude Arogundade, the Clergy, Religious and Faithful of the Diocese. We thank also the Governor of Ondo State, His Excellency, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, the government and the people of Ondo State for the enthusiastic welcome accorded the Conference.  We pray that God may abundantly bless them and reward them adequately for their exceptional hospitality.

    2. THE MARIAN YEAR

    We wish to mobilize the Clergy, Religious and Lay Faithful of Ibadan Ecclesiastical Province to fully and fruitfully participate in the celebration of the next Marian Year holding from March to October, 2017. The main objective of the Marian Year is to commemorate the centenary of the apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Fatima in Portugal in 1917. We urge that the opportunity be used to reiterate the messages of Fatima relating to the universal call to repentance and evangelization. It is necessary as well to reconfirm through catechesis, seminars, workshops, Bible study and similar activities, the presence and role of Mary as Mother of Jesus Christ, Mother of the Church and of all Christians. We urge all our people to fervently pray for thr success of the celebration

    3. ORDER IN WORSHIP AND LITURGY

    We restate our concern for divergent practices creeping into Catholic Worship and Liturgy in the Church, especially within our Province. Such practices are often introduced without consultation with or approval of competent Ecclesiastical Authority. We hereby remind Bishops to pay close attention and correct such anomalies. While our Liturgical Committee prepares measures to help regulate some of these issues we urge all our Priests, Religious, and other agents of evangelization to follow the rubrics and approved practices of the Church during worship and liturgical gatherings. This, by no means stifles creativity or inspiration but rather presents us all as loyal ministers of the faith and of the Universal Church. We also urge that in all celebrations in our Province, emphasis be placed on the use of the Yoruba language.

     4. THE STATE OF THE NATION

    It is difficult to deny that Nigeria is undergoing very serious challenges and problems at the moment. While many of our problems are not peculiar to Nigeria alone, it is true to say that we as government and people of Nigeria do not seem to know how to confront our challenges. After nearly two years of the current administration, Nigerians should no longer hear past administrations blamed for the woes of the present. Our present governments, especially at Federal and State levels, have had enough time to demonstrate the capability to bring about the changes promised to Nigerians. It is no longer news that Nigerians are truly suffering. Some of this can be understandable under a recession, however, there ought to be clear signs in national life by now that the government and people of our country are truly working to bring things under control. Regrettably there is not much evidence of this currently. Instead, there is a growing sense of desperation in the general populace that the much expected change has been slowed down. This unfortunate situation provokes general bad will manifested in the current proliferation of false information, violent clashes, calls for the break-up of Nigeria and pervasive criminality. It is necessary and urgent to restore the confidence of all Nigerians in the Nigerian nation.

    We condemn the needless loss of life in the Southern Kaduna crisis which has confirmed an impression that government is lackadaisical in responding to the needs of some sections of the nation. This impression should not be allowed to take firm root. Government exists for all and must never be seen to favour any group or ignore the needs of another. We admonish the government to be more proactive in protecting the life and property of Nigerians. We appeal to all men and women of goodwill to succor the needy and all those affected by the crisis. We acknowledge the recent effort of the Federal government in providing a number of jobs and giving some welfare packages to some poor citizens of Nigeria. We urge the government to do more in this regard and ask State Governments to replicate this programme in the States.

    We call on the government at all levels in Nigeria to continue to optimize strategies to bring about positive change in the nation. As things stand, much of the government’s strategies do not seem to be working well. The campaign against corruption seems to be losing steam as convictions are rare and the initial recovery of stolen funds has slowed down. The reform of the power sector is at a standstill with only some parts of Nigeria experiencing better or constant supply of electricity and road infrastructure is not improving much. Boko Haram insurgency, which seemed to be the nation’s main security concern, has been largely reduced its occasional attacks and the alleged Fulani herdsmen clashes with local communities seem to cancel out whatever gains can be celebrated in security. The freefall of the naira is another force tightening the noose around the neck of ordinary Nigerians, reducing their purchasing power and complicating their woes even further. So far, the effort of government to shore up this major issue can only be described as token and much more needs to be done in these different sectors.

    We appreciate the sacrifice of our security agencies which have helped to keep Nigeria together so far. We pray for all who have died in various conflicts in Nigeria and for those who have paid the highest price in our defense of our country and condole with their families. In spite of the recent unfortunate bombing of the IDP camp where dozens of innocent people were killed, our soldiers and security agencies deserve our support and appreciation. It is our prayer that Nigeria will soon experience the peace for which we have always desired and prayed.

    We call on the Nigerian government to be more forthcoming with information concerning government, its officials and policies in Nigeria. Public perception is essential in any democracy and it is important for the public to be adequately and correctly informed about important public personalities and issues. The fiasco that is currently going on about the state of health of President Muhammadu Buhari need not occur if information surrounding the matter had been better managed. There is certainly need to restore the confidence of the Nigerian public in the information outfit of the government.

    CONCLUSION

    We remain grateful to our Almighty and merciful God who has kept us and our country Nigeria in His love and care regardless of our woes and pains in different facets of life. Our faith in God as the source of all good things remains unshakeable and we believe firmly that our salvation can only come from obeying His commandments and doing His will in the Church and our nation. Let us all do more than criticize the state of things but work hard together to create a better society We invite all the faithful to fervently pray the rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary for peace and for better times in our families, in our nation and the world at large. 

    Most Rev. Gabriel Abegunrin                                     Most Rev. John Oyejola

    President                                                                     Secretary.

  • Bishops in Kenya want Government to “declare drought a national disaster”

    Waumini Communications || By Rose Achiego || 08 February 2017

    declare drought national disaster in kenya 2017Kenyan Bishops are appealing to the government to declare the current drought a national disaster in order to beckon the International Community to step forward and support the many Kenyans suffering and dying of hunger in many parts of the Country.

    Addressing the media at Waumini House Nairobi, on 7 February 2015, Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) Chairman, Bishop Philip Anyolo said that, reports from the dioceses and parishes indicate tales of suffering, desperation, hopelessness and in some cases, imminent loss of life.

    The Bishops are also appealing to Christians and people of good will to join hands in solidarity with the Church by contributing funds, food and essential items to save lives of those affected. 

    According to a government agency report, the number of Kenyans in need of relief food has risen to 2.7 million from 1.3 million last year. The most affected area are nine arid counties namely: Turkana, Marsabit, Samburu, Tana River, Isiolo, Mandera, Garissa, Wajir and Baringo.

    Below is the full statement
     
    STATEMENT FROM THE KENYA CONFERENCE OF CATHOLIC BISHOPS (KCCB) ON THE CURRENT DROUGHT SITUATION IN KENYA

    Behold I am with you always (Matthew 28:20)

    “A generous person will be blessed, for he gives some of his food to the poor.” (Proverbs 22:9)

    We, the Catholic Bishops of Kenya, your Shepherds, are cognizant to the fact that our country Kenya is facing severe food, water and pasture shortage in many parts of the country. Despite this challenging moment, we come to you with a word of hope and encouragement, God is with us, as Christ promised, “I am with you always” (Matthew 28:20). Therefore, none of us should despair! The total number of people needing help is about 2.4 million.

    We have been closely monitoring the current drought situation in the Country and reports from our Dioceses and Parishes indicate tales of suffering, desperation, hopelessness and in some cases, imminent loss of life.

    Even though the Kenyan Government, Kenya Red Cross and other philanthropic groups have made varied interventions, these remain inadequate because the number of families affected is huge.

    We are in a state of hunger, a looming disaster

    We hasten to appeal to the Government to declare the current drought a national disaster in order to beckon the International Community to step forward and support the many Kenyans who are suffering from this predicament.

    Furthermore, we, the Catholic Bishops, encourage all partners to continue their good work in responding to the crisis and urge the private sector to get more involved in these efforts. 

    Finally, we call upon our Christians, all people of good will, the Caritas family and other Church partners to respond to our Local Emergency Appeal and support us to reach out to the communities that are drastically affected by this drought.

    Our Appeal

    We are appealing to all Christians and people of good will to join hands in solidarity with the Church by contributing funds, food and non-food items to save lives of those affected. 

    Food and non-food donations can be channeled through our parishes, diocesan and national offices and other Church Institutions. Caritas Kenya – the development and humanitarian arm of the Catholic Church, will coordinate this initiative.

    The funds collected will help the Church respond to an emergency situation through relief to assist the affected communities through provision of urgent basic needs.

    We thank you for your steadfast support and urge you to stand by us as we rise to this challenge.

    Rt. Rev. Philip Anyolo 
    Signed: 7 February, 2017

    Bishop of Homa Bay and Chairman of KCCB and all the Catholic Bishops in Kenya

  • Q & A with Sr. Patricia Ebegbulem, Rescuing and Rehabilitating Victims of Trafficking in Nigeria

    Global Sisters Report (GSR) || By Dawn Araujo-Hawkins || 09 February 2017

    sr patricia ebegbulem rescuing trafficking victimsIn 2016, sisters at Bakhita Villa, a safe house in Lagos, Nigeria, helped rescue and rehabilitate nine victims of human trafficking.

    There, men and women receive counseling, take computer classes, and build skills they need for their new lives. Currently, only women live in Bakhita Villa, but St. Louis Sr. Patricia Ebegbulem, director of the safe house, said they are praying and planning for an expansion to also house male victims.

    Ebegbulem talked to GSR about her ministry, why she feels drawn to St. Josephine Bakhita, and why so many people are at risk for being trafficked today.

    GSR: What is the best part of your ministry?

    Ebegbulem: The best part of our ministry is what we see as our success stories. This is when the victims of human trafficking or survivors who come to us settle down happily and make it in life. Examples of such success stories include happy marriages of our ladies after their stay with us; happy reintegration where survivors live on their own in dignity and feel fulfilled; when victims of trafficking are happily reunited with their families; and when I hear our ladies thanking God and thanking us for rescuing them from the lion's den and promising never to go back to the life they were forced to live.

    What is the most challenging part of your ministry?

    Ebegbulem: The most challenging part is when those victims of trafficking refuse to settle down. During counseling and the rehabilitation period, you realize that they want to go back. Actually, some have found their way back to where they were deported from.

    Another challenging aspect is when you realize that they don't trust you, and they keep telling you lies. You cannot but feel frustrated knowing you are not making any headway with them.

    Another challenging aspect is lack of funds and facilities. There is so much you would like to do, but you are constrained because of funds. Many who know our work often bring to us young women who are internally trafficked and who want to be rescued and reintegrated. Very often, we do not have the funds to assist them.

    Why did you name your shelter after St. Josephine Bakhita?

    Ebegbulem: At our anti-trafficking workshop April 19-23, 2013, in Pretoria, South Africa, Talitha Kum's African region chose St. Josephine Bakhita, an African ex-slave girl from Sudan who was kidnapped and trafficked, as patron saint of its anti-trafficking ministry. We resolved that Feb. 8, her feast day, will be Anti Human Trafficking Day for Africa.

    The following year, March 23, 2014, we moved to where we are now, and it came naturally to me to call the home after St. Bakhita. I have great devotion to St. Bakhita to the extent that some people call me Bakhita. They say we look alike.

    Something very significant happened in the Vatican during our audience with the pope in September 2015 during an anti-trafficking meeting convened by the pontifical council for migrants and refugees. Brian Willis from America got our Holy Father, Pope Francis, to bless an icon of St. Bakhita, and he handed it over to me.

    I was in a daze! He did not know about my devotion to St. Bakhita. He didn't know me until we met in Rome. I saw it as an act of God. I concluded he gave me the icon for Africa. Incidentally, I'm the African representative in a couple of international networks against human trafficking. My plan is to pass this icon of St. Bakhita around among the African countries.

    What are your plans for the shelter in the next few years?

    Ebegbulem: Yes, we have great plans and dreams. This includes a place for skill acquisition. There is an uncompleted building beside our villa. Every day, I keep praying and hoping that we will be able to buy it for expansion to reach out to so many vulnerable people who come to us for assistance, especially victims of internal trafficking who are not receiving any attention. If we can purchase the building, we will have rooms for skill acquisition and other facilities.

    In the years since you've been working with trafficking survivors, what has changed in the way the international community views and handles human trafficking? What are the areas in which we still need growth?

    There is greater publicity, especially with CNN, Al Jazeera, etc. More funds are being pumped into countries of origin, though I wonder if these funds get into the right hands

    Areas in which we still need growth: demand. Many of us feel that the international community, the supposedly civilized world, the countries of destination are silent on [the demand for trafficked individuals], and that is why human trafficking, especially for prostitution, has continued to flourish. The old adage of 'no demand, no supply' still holds. I made this clear in one of my books, Stop Trafficking in Women & Children: It is a Crime against Humanity.

    What misconceptions do you believe people still have about human trafficking?

    Ebegbulem: [People believe that] human trafficking is not real, that only the poor get trafficked, that some women make that choice.

    In 2012, you were awarded the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice medal. Can you tell me what that meant to you?

    It was a big encouragement for me. I felt appreciated by our church, the Catholic church, and that energized me in my work and commitment.

    The United Nations recently reported that there are more refugees today than there were during World War II. Do you think this mass movement of people will have an effect on human trafficking?

    Of course it will have a tremendous effect in human trafficking. When people move from their base, especially to a strange land, they become very vulnerable and can easily be trafficked. The cause of the movement, which is often unprepared and unforeseen, makes the migrant more vulnerable. Away from their natural environment, they become people at risk and can easily be deceived and trafficked.

    How should we pray for trafficking victims around the world?

    Ebegbulem: People can get together and pray against human trafficking as families, groups, individuals at work, etc. Just as you have societies in the church such as Legion of Mary, Sacred Heart, you can have a St. Bakhita Society, whose main goal will be to pray against human trafficking. Some prayers were composed about St. Bakhita and, even before she was beatified; some prayers were being said to bring an end to human trafficking.

    Fortunately, the feast of St. Bakhita, February 8, is in the Liturgical Ordo. That will encourage people to pray against human trafficking.

    [Dawn Araujo-Hawkins is a Global Sisters Report staff writer based in Kansas City, Missouri. Her email address is daraujo@ncronline.org. Follow her on Twitter: @dawn_cherie.]

    Source: Global Sisters Report… 

  • Colombian Nun Kidnapped in Southern Mali

    Catholic News Service (CNS) || By Keanine Griggs || 09 February 2017

    colombian nun kidnapped in maliMali security forces arrested two suspects who they believe were involved in the kidnapping of a Colombian nun Feb. 7 in southern Mali.

    Sister Gloria Cecilia Narvaez Argoti, 56, a member of the Franciscan Sisters of Mary Immaculate, was taken by armed men in Karangasso village near the Burkina Faso border, according to Fides, the news agency of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.

    Around 9 p.m., a group of armed men broke into the parish, grabbed Sister Narvaez, and took off in an ambulance that belonged to the church.

    The news agency Agence France-Presse reported Feb. 8 that a security source said the two suspects were stopped while heading toward Burkina Faso in the ambulance. "The abductors initially threw her into the ambulance of the church, which led to their arrest," the source stated.

    A church worker told AFP that Sister Narvaez was one of four nuns living in Karangasso. The worker also stated that she was the the only one abducted.

    Father Edmond Dembele, secretary general of the Mali bishops' conference, told Fides that "the area where the religious woman was kidnapped is a quiet area and that is what is surprising. That area of the country has not yet been touched by the insecurity that affects other areas of Mali."

  • Handmaid Sisters in Ghana Urged to Walk in Mary’s Footsteps as Congregation Marks Diamond Jubilee

    CANAA || By Damian Avevor, Ghana || 06 February 2017

    handmaid sisters in ghana to emulate maryThe Sisters of the Handmaid of the Divine Redeemer (HDR) in Ghana’s capital, Accra, are marking their 60th anniversary since the establishment of their order with call to walk in the footsteps of Mary as a model of their lives.

    “Handmaids walking in the footsteps of Mary to our Lord Jesus Christ is the HDR’s Christian journey and must be an important concept of our faith, attitudes towards God, fellow men and women,” said Sr. Mary Matilda Sorkpor, Superior General of the HDR, during the Eucharistic celebration at Agormanya in the Koforidua Diocese on February 2.

    The theme of the sisters’ diamond jubilee celebration is: 60 Years of Handmaids of the Divine Redeemer, Our Achievements, Challenges and the future Prospects.

    Bishop Bowers founded the Congregation together with Mother Providential Hein, HDR (a former SSps missioned to Ghana) all of blessed memory on February 2, 1957, the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, which until 1997 was instituted by St. Pope John Paul as the World Day of Prayer for the Consecrated Life.

    Sr. Sokpor said being a Handmaid is the attitude that the founder of the Congregation, Bishop Joseph Oliver Bowers of blessed memory expected from them, noting that Handmaids walking in the footsteps of Mary was a whole gift of the founder to them.

    She quoted Bishops Bowers who stated in the formative years, “In imitation of the obedience of our Divine Redeemer and our lady, the HDRs are called together to lead a dedicated life in prayer, humility. Love and serve joyfully our neighbours by spreading the Gospel in our apostolates, particularly the integral development of women.”

    The Mother Superior urged the Sisters to continue to offer the humble gifts of themselves in total dedication of their thoughts, words and actions to the loving service of the divine redeemer and to the welfare of their neighbours.

    Most Rev. Charles Palmer-Buckle, Archbishop of Accra and the Moderator of the HDR, urged the Sisters to pray and work towards the future canonization of their founder, Bishop Joseph Oliver Bowers, SVD.

    In a Sermon he said Bishop Bowers was inspired and empowered by the Holy Spirit to establish the Congregation, hence the need for the Sisters to become the true light of salvation for one another.

    He entreated the Sisters to be opened to the Holy Spirit and seek the Lord to have a deeper knowledge of him, speak about him and spend more time with him.

    He prayed that the glory of God would be seen in all their endeavours and they would endeavour to become true and authentic lights to the glory of God, urging them to pray and fast for the salvation of themselves, women and the Church.

  • Bishop-elect in Zimbabwe Appeals for Collaborative Ministry

    CANAA || By Br. Alfonce Kugwa, Zimbabwe || 06 February 2017

    gokwe in zimbabwe gets new bishopZimbabwe’s Bishop-elect of Gokwe Diocese, Rudolf Nyandoro, has appealed for team spirit in the diocese.

    Pope Francis on 28 January 2017 appointed Monsignor Rudolf Nyandoro as the new Bishop of Gokwe Diocese in Zimbabwe. Monsignor Nyandoro takes over from Bishop Angel Floro who resigned from the pastoral care of the Diocese of Gokwe after reaching retirement age. A press release issued from Zimbabwe’s Apostolic Nunciature in Harare announced Monsignor Nyandoro’s appointment.

    “Today, 28 January 2017, His Holiness Pope Francis has accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the Diocese of Gokwe presented by Right Reverend Bishop Angel  M.  Floro (according to can.401.1 of CIC). At the same time, the Holy Father appointed Rev. Fr. Rudolf Nyandoro, Chancellor of the Diocese of Masvingo, as the new Bishop of Gokwe,” read the press statement.

    In an interview with Zimbabwe’s ‘Catholic Church News,’ the Bishop-elect who was until his appointment a lecturer at Bondolfi Teachers’ College said he never dreamt that one day he would be raised to the office of Bishop.

    “When I received the news, I was deeply disturbed, shocked and I couldn’t believe my ears. It is something that I never expected in my life. I was contented as a lecturer and with my pastoral duties,” said Monsignor Nyandoro.

    Monsignor Nyandoro implored God’s grace to lead him in his new ministry as the Shepherd of Gokwe Diocese and called upon the people of the diocese to work together with him. He said the Church is one and just as he worked in Masvingo as a priest, he was ready to work in Gokwe as a Bishop so that God’s will would be done. He highlighted the importance of team spirit in carrying the diocese forward as well as in dealing with challenges that come “our way”.

    Bishop-elect Nyandoro said: “The Church is one and we expect to work together with the priests, religious and the laity. Challenges will always be there, but if we work as a team, we will overcome them.”

    The Bishop-elect is equally confident that his predecessor will help him find his way in the diocese. He is optimistic that resources abound in Gokwe with human capital as the best resource.

    Monsignor Nyandoro said he will fit into existing plans of the diocese and would not rush to implement new changes but complete what has been put in place by his predecessor. 

    ‘I haven’t planned anything except that I ask people to be with me in prayer. The diocese is not new, and there are plans already in place. We will continue with those plans until they are completed,” Monsignor Nyandoro said.

    In a word to the priests, he encouraged them to be loyal to their Bishops, to be prayerful and to do their pastoral work to the best of their ability. To the faithful, he said: “The world is ever changing with technology facilitating many changes, and people need to pray so that the devil cannot outwit their faith through technological advancement but use technology to promote the growth of the Church.

    The 49-year-old bishop-elect was born on 11 October 1968 to Justin and Epiphania Nyandoro in Gutu under Masvingo Province. He did his primary education at Dambara Primary School after which he proceeded to Chikwingwizha Minor Seminary for secondary education. In 1990, Monsignor Nyandoro joined the major seminary starting in Chimanimani and completed his theological studies at Chishawasha Major Seminary before his ordination in 1998 by the late Bishop Francis Mugadzi.

    After his ordination, he worked at Mukaro Mission. When the Diocese of Masvingo was created in 1999, Monsignor Nyandoro was assigned to Sts. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Masvingo between 2000 and 2006. Between 2006 and May 2009 he served as the Rector of St. Kizito Minor Seminary at Mukaro Mission before he moved to be Rector of Bondolfi Teachers College until 2016. He succeeds Bishop Floro who has been at the helm of the diocese for 17 years.

    Bishop-elect Nyandoro will be ordained Bishop in Gokwe at a date to be announced.

  • Nairobi-based Missionary Priest Shortlisted for International Peace Prize

    Society of African Missions (SMA) || 04 February 2017

    sma missionary shortlisted for prize 2017The Press Association has issued a memo (3 February 2017) stating that Fr Padraig Devine SMA, the founder and international chairperson of the SHALOM Centre for Conflict Resolution and Reconciliation, Nairobi, has been shortlisted for the prestigious 2016 Tipperary International Peace Prize.

    Fr Devine’s innovative peacebuilding work is the subject of increasing recognition throughout the world with Government agencies and NGOs respectfully studying the work of the Shalom Centre.

    Next week we will carry an in-depth interview with Fr Padraig following a recent visit the SMA missionary made to Washington DC.  

    The peace prize was inspired by the Jack Judge song, ‘It’s a long way to Tipperary’, which became the unofficial anthem of the British Army during WWI.

    Soldiers marching to the Western Front sang the song and, when the guns were finally silenced at 11 o’clock on the 11th of November 1918, a soldier climbed on top of the ruined belfry of Mons, Belgium, and sang the song in jubilation at the thought of returning home alive.

    In the early 1980s the Tipperary Peace Convention was founded. Since Tipperary was known the world over because of a ‘war’ song, its residents wanted to offer an alternative vision.

    “We like to think that the modern Tipperary is now known for its efforts to promote peace and peaceful co-operation on a national and international stage,” a spokesperson said.

    As part of the initiative the Tipperary Peace Convention established the Tipperary Peace Prize and the list of its recipients is impressive. Previous winners have included: President Nelson Mandela, former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, the late Senator Gordon Wilson from Enniskillen, former U.S. President Bill Clinton, former President of Ireland, Professor Mary McAleese and her husband Senator Martin McAleese, Pakistani schoolgirl and Nobel Prize winner, Malala Yousafzai, former UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon and last year’s recipient was former US Secretary of State, John Kerry.

    For the 2016 Tipperary International Peace Prize, Fr Padraig Devine is nominated along with the former Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness; the Lebanese-British human rights lawyer, Amal Alamudden-Clooney (married to actor George Clooney); Amnesty International; Syrian White Helmets, whose volunteers have saved almost 80,000 lives in the Syrian civil war; and Lady Rabab al Sadr, the Lebanese social and human rights activist and philanthropist.

    The winner will be announced by the Tipperary Peace Convention in the coming weeks.

    We wish Fr. Padraig Devine and all the nominees every good wish and blessing.

    All would be worthy winners and, as the Society of African Missions, we are particularly proud that the important peace and reconciliation work of one of our missionaries in Africa has been recognised.

    For further information on the Tipperary International Peace Prize please click here:

    For background information on this year’s nominees, please click here:

    Source: Society of African Missions… 

  • Holy See Signs Agreement with Democratic Republic of Congo

    Catholic News Agency (CNA) || 05 February 2017

    holy see and drc sign agreement  2017The Holy See and the Democratic Republic of the Congo on Friday signed a framework agreement to govern relations between the Catholic Church and the state.

    Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Holy See’s Secretary of State, signed the agreement with the Congolese Prime Minister Clement Mouamba.

    The framework agreement guarantees the Catholic Church’s right to carry out her mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It recognizes the legal personality of the Church and of Catholic institutions.

    It affirms that both the Church and the State aim to work for the moral, spiritual and material wellbeing of individuals and to promote the common good.

    In attendance at the signing ceremony were many bishops including Archbishop Francisco Escalante Molina, the apostolic nuncio to the Congo; Archbishop Anatole Milandou of Brazzaville; and Bishop Daniel Mizonzo of Nkai, president of the Congolese bishops’ conference.

    Various leading officials of the Congolese government also attended.

    The Church runs a large network of schools, hospitals and private businesses in the country. About half of the country’s people identify as Catholic.

    In September 2016, Pope Francis met with the country’s president Joseph Kabilia. The Pope reportedly voiced concern about ongoing unrest in the country connected with delayed elections.

    Source: Catholic News Agency…

  • DR Congo Reacts to Opposition Leader’s Death

    Deutsche Welle (DW) || By Sella Oneko || 02 February 2017

    dr congo reacts to death of opposition leader 2017The death of DRC’s most prominent opposition figure Etienne Tshisekedi at 84 should come as no surprise. However, it comes at a crucial political moment and many Congolese are in shock.

    When the news of his death broke out last evening, his supporters converged at his residence in the Limete neighborhood in Kinshasa. At one point, the police intervened to disperse the crowds. "We are shocked, and it is a great loss to the country," one of his supporters told DW. "We expected him to return to the country."

    "When I received the news this morning I was touched," said a taxi driver. "But when I heard the news I didn't have the courage to drive."

    At 84, Tshisekedi had been battling health issues for the past few years and was receiving medical treatment in Belgium. His death was of course not untimely, but the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is at a political turning point and the senior politician played a vital role in the negotiations. "I don't know what's next here in the DRC," said one supporter. "We didn't really expect this to happen at this stage."

    The country was plunged into a political crisis in late 2016, when President Joseph Kabila's government decided to delay elections indefinitely – the political void was to be filled by Kabila's government. Earlier that year, a DRC court had ruled that Kabila could stay in power until elections were held.

    Emery Damien Kalwira, president of the Congolese Coalition for Transition said that his death has come as a big blow to the opposition. "The opposition will weaken," Kalwira told DW. "He was in the hearts of many Congolese people. He had the power to unite a divided opposition in the Congo and enabled them to participate in the peace talks with President Kabila. Therefore, we think his death will cause a split in the opposition."

    A national icon

    Etienne Tshisekedi initially served under the government of the country's dictator, Mobutu Sese Seko, for almost 20 years. He founded the opposition party Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS), after splitting with Mobutu in 1982. "We're not just speaking of the physical death of a person. Tshisekedi is a national icon. He embodied democracy his whole life," said party member Fabien Mutombo. An activist, Jeannot Kabuya, noted that Tshisekedi was always close to power, but was not willing to take it at any cost.

    In his lifetime, veteran opposition leader of course also had his share of enemies. Immediately after his death, however, even DRC's ruling coalition had kind words for him. "A great, uncompromising patriot has left us," said Andre Alain Atundu, speaker of the ruling party coalition. "This is the end of an era. May he rest in peace."

    What next for the opposition?

    A sharp blow has definitely been dealt to the people who had set their hopes on him. Since the end of December 2016, the country has been experiencing a fragile peace that was brokered by the heads of DRC's Catholic church (CENCO).

     As a prominent figure, he united the opposition. Tanzanian analyst, Jenerali Ulimwengu, described him as having a certain mystique around him. 

    "Tshisekedi was chosen as the president of the advisory board of the opposition coalition," explained Bob Kabamba, a political analyst at the University of Liege in Belgium. "There are, of course, several vice presidents. But they must choose a new president and he will probably not have the qualities of Tshisekedi and the same means to put pressure on the government." Even Tshisekedi's son, Felix (pictured at the top), who is considered to be his most likely successor, does not have the political clout of his father, Kabamba added.

    Germany's Federal Foreign Office also voiced their condolences to Tshisekedi's family and the Congolese people. Germany also called on all political actors to respect the transitional deal in order to allow for the preparation of peaceful elections.

    DRC has never experienced a peaceful transition of power and Kabila's refusal to stand down when his final term expired in December 2016 has raised fears that the country could slide back into a civil war.  

    Wendy Bashi and Antonio Cascais contributed to this report.

    Source: Deutsche Welle…

  • Severe Drought Brings Starving Kenyans to Church Doorsteps

    Religion News Service (RNS) || By Fredrick Nzwili || 31 January 2017

    severe drought in kenya brings needer at churchesWhen her pantry runs dry, Agnes Mwikali walks down a dusty road to the local Roman Catholic Church mission.

    There, beyond the metal gate and the church garden where the crops are withering, she steps into the administration building and asks for a 4-pound bag of cornmeal.

    In Thatha, her home, about 93 miles northeast of Nairobi, a severe drought has left many families without food, water and pasture for their livestock.

    Mwikali, a 40-year-old mother, has watched in consternation, as extreme temperatures have destroyed crops, drained water sources and laid grazing fields to waste.

    “We are trying everything,” she said. “There are many of us. Many families don’t have enough food.”

    Mwikali has 14 mouths to feed; her children range in age from 23 years old to 3 months. She has supported herself by weeding, herding or fetching water. But that kind of work has become scarce with the advent of the drought.

    “The rains are our greatest disappointment,” she said. “Every season, we plant our seeds and watch the crops germinate, only for the rains to leave before they mature.”

    At the Thatha Roman Catholic Mission, part of the Machakos Diocese, the Rev. Gerard Matolo increasingly sees more people seeking help.

    “You can’t tell them that there is nothing,” Matolo said. “As their shepherd, I have to find a way to ensure they get something to eat. Sometimes I share my own food.”

    Matolo estimates that nearly 3,000 people in his parish urgently need food aid. About 30,000 are at risk.

    A bag of cornmeal or a bottle of oil would make a difference for a family, but the priest said there is too little to give.

    The last time this region received meaningful rainfall was seven years ago. So Matolo has been storing the little food he gets as part of the agricultural tithe that small farmers and others have traditionally given the mission.

    But unless things change, Matolo fears, soon cows, goats, sheep and donkeys will start dying.

    East Africa is in the grips of yet another severe drought, largely attributed to climate change. The United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicts the continent will be hardest hit by climate change, in part because 1 in 4 people in the region lives in extreme poverty.

    The recurrent droughts have taken a heavy toll on religious leaders, as they move to aid communities threatened by starvation. The current drought has hit Kenya, Tanzania, Somalia, South Sudan and Ethiopia, disrupting livelihoods for millions of people.

    According to religious leaders, the battles against the drought have been fierce and draining and governments are not doing enough.

    Agriculture in Africa is underfunded, although several governments in the African Union Maputo Declaration on Agriculture and Food Security committed to spending 10 percent of their national budget on agricultural development. Only 13 countries have met that target.

    In Kenya the drought stretches across the coastal, north, northeastern and southern lowlands. Even the western region, which has not traditionally experienced severe droughts, is affected. Experts warn that the situation may persist for the next six months.

    “The drought is of great concern to us as Muslims,” said Sheikh Hassan Ole Naado, the deputy secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims. “We are praying and we are mobilizing.”

    Kenya’s government has been delivering relief food to nearly 1.6 million in arid and semi-arid areas. Officials say the number will surpass 2 million by the end of February.

    Last week, President Uhuru Kenyatta ordered the resumption of school feeding programs so that children can stay in school. The schools are also required to accept food as school fees.

    In the north and northeastern regions, the Kenya Red Cross has been buying livestock from farmers, slaughtering the animals and distributing the meat to the community.

    Meanwhile, Matolo and other many faith leaders in East Africa continue to stress better farming methods, the use of quality seeds and increased water harvesting.

    “When I see the people starving, I feel desperate. I also feel disappointed that many of the promises by government officials to deliver water have not been honored,” said Matolo.

    “If these people can get water for irrigation, the area will become the country’s bread basket. They are doing it in Israel, which is a desert. Here, the soils are very fertile and the people are not lazy.”

    (Fredrick Nzwili is an RNS correspondent based in Nairobi)

    Source: Religion News Service… 

  • Nuns in Malawi in the Fight against Climate Change

    Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM) || By Prince Henderson || 30 January 2017

    nuns in malawi against climate changeThe Teresian Sisters of the Child Jesus from Dedza Deanery of the Catholic Church have planted over 200 trees at Mlale, Traditional Authority Masula in Lilongwe.

    Sister Tereza Mulenga, a Tutor at Bembeke; St Joseph’s Teachers Training College, said they thought of planting the trees as one way of responding to the Pope’s call to care and conserve the environment through his encyclical, Laudatory Si.

    “Apart from doing what Pope Francis told us to do, we are also doing this in line with the United Nations Development goal which calls us to take care of the environment as well,” said Sister Mulenga.

    She said apart from being Nuns whose most of their time is spent through prayers, they also thought of joining the rest of Malawians, especially during this tree planting season to contribute to the good course of the environment.

    According to sister Mulenga, effects of Climate Change have not spared anyone including religious men and women hence the need to conserve and care for it.

    “We are not exempted from effects of Climate Change. We leave in communities and interact with people. The problems are the same and this is the reason we thought of planting these trees,” she said.

    In an interview later, Sister Felista Nale of Mlale Prepostulate commended the Sisters from Dedza Deanery for considering to plant trees at Mlale.

    She said the area had a lot of trees but have all been depleted due to community encroachment and that they use trees for firewood during big functions that mostly take place at Mlale.

    “Let me thank these sisters from Dedza for coming to Mlale to plant trees with us. We don’t take this for granted as it is important for us to care and conserve for the environment,” said Sister Nale.

    She urged others especially the youth to emulate the gesture and do the same across the country.
    Recently, Vice President of the Republic of Malawi, Dr Saulosi Chilima joined Catholic Children in the Archdiocese of Lilongwe in a tree planting exercise at St. Patrick’s Parish, Area 18.

    Chilima said it was pleasing to note that Catholic church through various groupings have joined the rest of Malawians in restoring the lost environment by planting trees.

    President Peter Mutharika launched the National Tree Planting Day on Tuesday this week.

    Source: Episcopal Conference of Malawi… 

  • Southern Africa Bishops Strive to Implement “The Joy of Love”

    CANAA || By Father Don Bosco Onyalla, Nairobi || 02 February 2017

    southern africa bishops implement amoris laetitiaChurch leaders under the Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference (SACBC) have expressed their commitment to implementing the latest Apostolic Exhortation of Pope Francis, 'Amoris Laetitia' (The Joy of Love), including “preparing resources to equip and help” the clergy and lay pastoral agents.

    The Bishops expressed this in their pastoral letter at their meeting at St John Vianney Seminary in Pretoria.

    The Monday, January 30th letter, which focused on marriage and the family highlighted some of the initiatives the Church leaders are spearheading in line with Amoris Laetitia, a Synodal document drawing together almost three years of consultations with Catholics in nations around the world.

    Guided by this Synodal document, the Bishops have expressed their awareness of the need to have “more intense preparation for marriage; accompaniment of newly married couples by family life ministry teams; improved parenting skills,” among other realities in their pastoral situation such as protracted cohabiting, traditional marriages, and polygamy.

    “We are also preparing resources to equip and help our priests, deacons and pastoral workers to assist the faithful in heart breaking and difficult situations that arise in many marriages,” the Bishops have stated in the pastoral letter.

    Below is the full text of the Pastoral Letter, which was signed by the Archbishop of Cape Town and President of the SACBC, Stephen Brislin.

    PASTROAL LETTER ON MARRIAGE AND FAMILY LIFE, A FOLLOW UP ON THE SYNOD ON FAMILY AND THE SUBSEQUENT PAPAL EXHORTATION “THE JOY OF LOVE”

    The joy of love experienced by families is also the joy of the Church. (Pope Francis - The Joy of Love)

    Dear Brothers and Sisters in Jesus Christ,

    We thank Pope Francis for the message on the family addressed to all of us in his Apostolic Exhortation “The Joy of Love” (Amoris Laetitia). We look forward to exploring and deepening our appreciation of the joy of love at the heart of marriage and family life.

    In introducing the presentation, Pope Francis himself wrote:

    It is likely … that married couples will be more concerned with Chapters Four and Five, and pastoral ministers with Chapter Six, while everyone should feel challenged by Chapter Eight. It is my hope that, in reading this text, all will feel called to love and cherish family life, for “families are not a problem; they are first and foremost an opportunity”. (The Joy of Love 7)

    The Pope also gives attention to the need to assist the young in preparing for marriage and it is his desire that young couples be accompanied in their first years of marriage by dedicated and wise married people.

    Chapter 8 gives indications of how thosewhose marriages are in difficulties and those who are divorced and remarried can be assisted.

    The spiritual life and ways in which families can pray and worship together is given attention in Chapter 9.

    Our acknowledgement

    This apostolic exhortation arises out of the two Synods of Bishops that were held in Rome in 2014 and 2015. We in Southern Africa also made our contribution to the deliberations of the Synods by the input which was timeously supplied by many who responded to the questionnaires in the preparatory stages leading up to the Synods and by the married couples and bishops who were chosen to represent us at the Synods and to present our input.

    We thank all who made use of the opportunity to respond to the questionnaires by electronic means or through the parish structures.

    Way Forward

    With the guidance of this Synodal document we are asked to give attention to our situation, viz.

    • More intense preparation for marriage
    • Accompaniment of newly married couples by family life ministry teams
    • Improved parenting skills
    • Situations where couples live together without any intention of marrying
    • Traditional marriages
    • Polygamy
    • The difficult situations in which number of the faithful live.

    Where married people have divorced, and may have civilly remarried, and indeed in other special cases too, people “need to be more fully integrated into Christian communities in the variety of ways possible, while avoiding any occasion of scandal” (The Joy of Love 299). The Pope provides guidelines on how to go about discerning the work of the Holy Spiritinaccompanyingthe divorced and remarried. (The Joy of Love300ff.).

    The Synod Fathers stated that, although the Church realizes that any breach of the marriage bond “is against the will of God”, she is also “conscious of the frailty of many of her children”. (The Joy of Love 291)

    As regards the youth, Pope Francis proposes a more intense personal and pastoral discernment which will helpthe young prepare themselves for the marital commitment. (The Joy of Love 298) Some need help with understanding and accepting the demands of a permanent commitment. Others put the stress on an extravagant wedding overlooking that marriage is for life whereas the wedding is for a day.

    We encourage everyone to reflect upon the exhortation of the Pope, whether in its full version, or with the use of the booklet“The Joy of Love Made Simple.” The knowledge of what the Holy Father has said will help us find joy in family life.

    We are also preparing resources to equip and help our priests, deacons and pastoral workers to assist the faithful in heart breaking and difficult situations that arise in many marriages.

    All of us are called to keep striving towards something greater than ourselves and our families, and every family must feel this constant impulse. Let us make this journey as families, let us keep walking together. What we have been promised is greater than we can imagine. May we never lose heart because of our limitations, or ever stop seeking that fullness of love and communion which God holds out before us. (Conclusion of The Joy of Love 391)

    Sincerely yours in Christ,

    Your Bishops

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