Sr. Jecinter Antoinette Okoth, FSSA
Catholic Bishops in Africa and the islands have in the recently celebrated Pentecost statement, called on Christians and people of good will to be open to the Holy Spirit and genuinely share whatever they have with the many people facing Covid-19 challenges and other acts of violence in the continent.
In their statement issued under the continental body the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences in Africa and Madagascar (SECAM), the bishops of Africa have referenced Pope Francis’ homily for Pentecost Sunday of 2020 where he said that the feast of Pentecost reminds us that we are born from a gift and that we grow by the giving of ourselves of any little thing we may have.
“Let us not hold back what will help a fellow brother and sister in need; after all, there is more joy in giving than in receiving,” they added.
In the Pentecost message signed by SECAM President, Philippe Nakellentuba Cardinal Ouédraogo, the bishops insist that “where genuine sharing, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, trustfulness, gentleness and self-control exist, the Holy Spirit is there at work.”
Highlighting some of the challenges Africa is experiencing due to the ongoing pandemic the Church leaders said, “Our continent is currently ravaged by different variants of Coronavirus, recent statistics indicate that confirmed total cases of Covid-19 from African countries are more than 4.7 million and reported deaths are over 127 thousand.”
They further decry the condition of the continent propelled by other challenges saying, “the situation is further aggravated by incessant terrorist attacks and other acts of violence, unleashed even on innocent people and children, resulting to thousands of fatalities in a number of African countries, (and) sites of internally displaced people, who are without basic necessities and exposed to infectious diseases are common across the continent and the Islands.”
“All these are issues of great concern for us, your shepherds and pastors, especially, because we urged for prayers for the end of the pandemic and violence last year (2020), and have been praying since then. Yet, the stories are the same, if not worse now,” reads an excerpt of the statement shared May, Saturday 22.
Offering hope to the continent, the Saturday message reads, “Go through life with courage, valour and perseverance, and you will be counted among the “blessed ones.” Additionally remember how Job persevered and God restored all his fortunes. Therefore be of good cheer, God will not abandon you in daily life, in calamity and even in death.”
“Pentecost invites us to welcome the Spirit of God in our lives (hence) In our daily struggle to cope with the challenges posed by Corona virus pandemic and insecurity on the continent and the Islands, let us turn to the Holy Spirit for support. He is our life-force, our helper, our advocate, our counsellor, our comforter and our teacher,” it continues.
SECAM members asks for continued prayers to all those infected with different variants of Coronavirus or awfully affected by the raging vicious conflicts and other tragedies and for the peaceful repose of the souls of all who have died and consolation to those who have lost beloved ones.