Church News 21 June 2020
The Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) have sent message of condolence to Missionary Sisters of the Precious Blood (CPS) who have lost four nuns in a span of one week.
“We have just received the sad news about the death of 4 Sisters in in Mthatha Diocese due to the outbreak of Covid-19 disease, with several others infected,” reads in part the message of SECAM which the continental pastoral solidarity body of Catholic bishops in Africa sent to Regional Conferences on Tuesday June 16.
“Your Excellencies pray for the repose of the deceased Sisters and the quick recovery of the sick ones,” the message signed by the Secretary General Fr. Henry Terwase Akaabiam indicates.
The Bishops through the Secretariat also pray for God’s protection to Bishop Sithembele Sipuka the first Vice President of SECAM, who is the Local Ordinary of Mthatha Diocese in South Africa where the four sisters stayed.
“May God console and strength Rt. Rev. Sithembele Sipuka, members of the Precious Blood Sisters Congregation and others members of Mthatha Diocese in this difficult moment,” they said adding, “May the souls of the departed Sisters rest in peace.”
According to a statement signed by Sr Nokwanda Bam of the Congregation, the four sisters were staying in old age home in the Mother House Convent in Mthatha, succumbed to COVID-19.
“It began with the infection of a Sister who works as a nurse at St. Mary’s Hospital and who is presently regarded as the prime source. After being discovered to be infected, she was fetched by the authorities of the Hospital to B&B for Quarantine in Mthatha,” Sr. Bam narrated.
“Then, 3 other members of the community were also discovered to be infected, all of them elderly, succumbing to the virus last week,” Sr. Bam explained adding, “In the meantime, it has been discovered that more Sisters are infected, young and old. Presently, 17 have tested positive, 15 are negative and 3 are still waiting for the test results.”
“Sr. Celine Nxopo died on the 8th and was buried on 15th; Sr. Maria Cord Wardhor died on the 12th; Sr. Martha Anne Dlamini on the 13th; and Sr. Beatrice Khofu on 14th of June,” the statement reads.
Sr. Jecinter Antoinette Okoth, FSSA
Religious leaders of South Sudan Council of Churches (SSCC) have warned against the ongoing intercommunal violence which has led to loss of properties and lives, reminding the people that they will be held accountable before God.
“We the Church in South Sudan are deeply saddened by the escalation of violence in nearly all the States of our country. We strongly deplore the increase in loss of lives and destruction of properties of populations already impoverished by conflicts in the country,” reads in part the SSCC statement dated Wednesday, June 17.
“God is watching us and will hold us accountable for disrespecting and disregarding the sanctity of life,” the Church leaders caution in their statement signed by seven members of the council including the Catholic Archbishop of Juba Archdiocese, Most Rev. Stephen Ameyu Martin.
The ecumenical body whose core intent is “peace building, reconciliation, healing and building on the instrumental role of the Churches” has called upon the government to find ways of stopping the ongoing clashes in various parts of the country and for people to embrace peace.
“We strongly denounce the recent and on-going violence in Greater Jonglei, Ruweng, Warrap, Greater Yei, Lakes and other places in the Republic of South Sudan including Gumba Sherikhat,” the Church leaders stated.
“We call upon the Revitalized Transitional Government of National Unity (R-TGONU) and all the Opposition groups to bring this multiple devastating violence to an end with immediate effect,” the appeal.
“We equally call upon our people to embrace peace and harmonious co-existence because we are all bound by the destiny and love for one another in this our beloved land,” the Council leaders appealed.
Addressing political leaders to be faithful in honoring their agreements, the Council says, “We call upon all our political leaders in R-TGONU and Opposition to be true to the Agreements and Declarations they have signed and ensure their full and timely implementations.”
Besides, “We appeal in the name of God to all our political leaders to value the people over and above position, power and party interests,” SSCC states adding “We call for immediate cessation of hostilities and formation of State and County Governments.
Leaders have encouraged citizens to be remorseful for their acts and ask God for forgiveness saying, “We equally call upon the people of South Sudan in all their diversities to repent of their sins, forgive one another and reconcile with God.”
“We assure our people that the Church will remain true to its divine calling and ministry of reconciliation and we will continue to pray and work for our country, because we believe there is still hope for us and South Sudan will overcome. Let’s not give up,” the Church leaders concluded.
|Rt. Rev. Virgilio PanteBishop of Maralal|
The Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) has expressed concern about the impact of Covid-19 on vulnerable populations including refugees, internally displaced persons, people on the move such as truck drivers and pastoralists, persons living on the streets, and people with mental illness.In a statement read by the Bishop of Maralal Rt. Rev. Virgilio Pante during the Feast of Corpus Christi at the Holy Family Minor Basilica of Nairobi Archdiocese, Sunday, 14th, June 2020, the bishops state that there is a need to act upon the plight of truck drivers who in recent weeks have been stranded at various Kenyan borders due to Covid-19 restrictions.
“Truck drivers contribute immensely to the economic health of our country. The continual rise in numbers of truck drivers contracting COVID-19 indicates a gap in addressing their safety and health. Therefore, it is a matter of great concern to all of us. We appeal to the Government to urgently address the challenges the truck drivers, are facing in order to curb the rising spread of the virus,” Bishop Pante said.
Bishop Pante who is Chairman of the Commission for Refugees, Migrants, and Seafarers, has lauded the efforts of philanthropists who are supporting street families who are said to be most affected by COVID-19, encouraging people of good-will to help them in every way possible.
“The people living on the streets in towns and those suffering from mental illness are in a more precarious situation, with a high risk of contracting, spreading, and being overwhelmed by Covid-19,” he said.
Bishop Pante said concerted efforts have also to be made in addressing the plight of internally displaced persons and refugees who live in congested places without proper facilities to deal with the surge in infection.
“The refugees and internally displaced people who reside in densely populated camps face a risk of contracting Corona-virus. We appeal that more deliberate mitigation measures be urgently implemented to protect them,” he said.
The Ordinary of who resides in Maralal appealed to government for more awareness raising efforts among nomadic communities, arguing that even though reported cases of Covid-19 among pastoralist communities are low, “there is a need for sensitization of the communities on Covid-19 and the preventive measures,” he implored.
The Church further urged Christians and people of goodwill to support Caritas Emergency Appeal 2020 by contributing in-kind and monetarily towards assisting those affected by floods, landslides in some parts of the country.
By Mastone Peter
The General Council of the Daughters of Wisdom, also known as Montfort Sisters, has donated houses to Mayaka Health Centre which they have built in a bid to minimize accommodation challenges facing technical staff members for the facility.
Speaking when he officially received and blessed the houses, Rt. Rev. George Desmond Tambala, Bishop of Zomba Diocese, commended the huge role the Religious Congregations play in the Diocese in addressing the spiritual and social needs of the people.
The Bishop thanked the Daughters of Wisdom for supporting Mayaka Health Centre in various ways, saying that this complements the Diocese’s efforts of promoting the provision of quality health care services which is in line with their five-year Strategic plan (2017-2020).
“As a Diocese, we are very grateful for this donation which has come at a time when the Health Centre is facing the challenge of shortage of staff houses,” added Bishop Tambala.
The Local Ordinary of Zomba then challenged community members who attended the function to own the facility by contributing towards delivery of quality health care services at the facility by any possible means.
In his address, the Director of Health and Social Services in Zomba District, Dr. Alexander Chijuwa thanked the Catholic Church for working hand in hand with Government and described the relation of the two parties as development partners.
“The main player in the delivery of quality health care services is the motivated health worker and descent accommodation is a big motivation,” continues Dr. Chijuwa.
In her remarks, the Sister In-Charge of Mayaka Health Center, Sister Emma Nazombe thanked her Congregation for the donation.
She added that their General Council has been assisting the facility in various ways.
Sister Nazombe mentioned that with funding from the General Council, they have managed to build two semi-detached houses and one stand-alone house, do a major maintenance of old staff houses, purchase heavy duty genset, mattresses and many other projects at the Health Centre, including the recent purchase of a brand-new ambulance.
Mayaka Health Centre was opened in 1972 and it serves over 60 thousand patients from around the area.
|Training of Editors in Tanzannia|
Tanzania Episcopal Conference (TEC) insists Tanzanian Government must adopt the new economic model of Social Market economy in order to have a strong nation with sustainable and inclusive economic growth and enables participation and development for all.
The model comes after a scientific research and analysis from economists from Mzumbe University, St Augustine University of Tanzania (SAUT) and Dar es Salaam University under the coordination of religious leaders in Tanzania.
The economic system is traced back to Alfred Muller Armack, Walter Eucken, Leonhard Miksch, Franz Bohm, Wilhelm Ropke, Alexander Rustow, Konrad Adenauer and Ludwig Erhard who had a vision to strengthen and build individual economies under their own government.
“Tanzania also needs a clear economic ideology which focuses the country’s development activities towards an inclusive economy in which free trade and competition are balanced. This balance comes from the State as a referee and the individual citizens at the centre of decision and actions,’’ stated the Secretary-General of TEC Rev. Dr. Charles Kitima while opening a one-day seminar to Tanzania’s media editors on how to engage in the adaptation of social market economy.
He insisted that media editors in Tanzania ought to prioritize content on market capitalism in order to build a more prosperous and inclusive economy for individuals.
Fr Kitima said that in order to get rid of the poverty among individuals and to promote the country’s economy, it is time for the editors to prioritize the analysis of policies, plans and economic principles that aim at responding to the construction of a market economy.
“This system we have researched since 2016, and we are convinced that it is the best system that will enable Tanzania to create a sustainable economy for individuals,” said Fr Kitima.
He added that the uniqueness of the Social Market Framework is how it links the free market economy with the role of government in controlling the country’s economic growth if it is to ensure justice for all and to promote fair competition.
In creating an inclusive economy-building system, Fr Kitima said that the system helps reduce inflation, reduce unemployment and improve the working environment by promoting social well-being.
“During research, we visited different countries that have successfully built their economy on this system. We went to Germany which is one of the most successful countries through this system, to learn how to build and run this economy in our country,’ added Fr. Kitima.
He said, in order for the economy to grow and produce positive results, it is important for Tanzania government to do a critical assessment and plan accordingly.
“So far how have we managed various income activities but are we self-sufficient?” asked Fr Kitima.
He emphasized that for a country to develop it must have a sound economic system, and that is why some countries succeeded early in achieving their goals.
”Tanzania’s economy is growing but still, the citizens as individual are poor probably because of the methods, philosophies and technologies that have been used and continue to be used now.
He therefore urged journalists through news reports, articles, debates and interviews to make sure they play a major role in explaining this economic system.
“Journalists, you have the responsibility of bringing this economy into the community and able carry the topic to all levels. We cannot do anything for national development without media: where we ignored the media, we failed, ” he said.
For his part, the facilitator of the program, Mr. Pansian Ntui a lecturer at SAUT, said that it was good for the authors to start looking at the policies, laws and regulations governing the economy of the country.
Ntui said that in their research they identified one of the challenges contributing to the country’s economic failure since independent as lack of a country philosophy and ideology.
“Since we gained Independence we have never had a system to guide the kind of economy we want. Between 1961-1985 we followed the African socialism economy; 1985-1995 the liberal economy system; from 1995 up to 2015 the privatization system; and from 2015 to the present we are using the industrial economy. This is making Tanzania a nation that lacks economic direction,” said Ntui.
Sr. Jecinter Antoinette Okoth, FSSA
Bishop Maurice Muhatia Makumba|
Chairman of Seminary Episcopal Commission
of the Kenya Conference of Catholic
After the closure of learning institutions as one of the directives from the government of Kenya to help stem the spread of Coronavirus, some institutions embraced virtual learning which a Kenyan prelate has described as not the best option for Seminaries.
“Seminaries could not adapt to online learning during this period of pandemic because of the nature of formation in the seminary which is integral formation and not just academic formation,” the Chairman of Seminary Episcopal Commission of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB), Bishop Maurice Muhatia Makumba told AMECEA online in an interview Wednesday, June 17.
“There is an all-round assessment as a person is being prepared to the priesthood and in many cases physical presence of the individual is required in the formation house for the formation to proceed on well,” the Prelate explained.
The Local Ordinary of Kenya’s Nakuru diocese emphasizes that the “academic part that could be done online is just an aspect of formation, but there are so many factors that are addressed and looked into during the process of formation of a person.”
Following the abrupt closure of schools which took place in mid-March prior to the official closing of academic year in learning institutions, the Bishop told AMECEA online during the interview that “Even though the seminaries were closed unexpectedly, we will reorganize ourselves to see how we can recover the lost time which is basically about two months. The Seminary Episcopal Commission will discuss, then advice the conference who will make the decision on that.”
“We have seminarians in various stages of formation who are supposed to move to the next level and then we have the component of the examination that were not done. So the Seminary Episcopal Commission will first address how do to deal with these issues then advice the conference who will make the decision on how to go about the completion of the academic year,” Bishop Muhatia underscored.
Echoing Bishop Muhatia’s message on the sudden closure of seminaries, the Rector of St. Thomas Major Seminary in Kenya’s Nairobi Archdiocese, Fr. John Kiplimo Lelei said, “First we will try and capture what we did not finalize because we did not even graduate in May as we intended to. We will work as a team with the Seminary Episcopal Commission and see how to finish the backlog.”
“Depending on what our Bishops decide, it is likely that the system may change a bit because when the seminarians come back, that is when they will finish the syllabus, and begin the new semester. The initial intake and beginning of the academic year will be interrupted with too,” Fr. Lelei told AMECEA online.
Bishop Muhatia further noted that pastoral work which is also part of formation of seminarians could not be carried out as normally done because of restrictions on publish worship.
“Placement of seminarians in various parishes for pastoral work during the long holiday was actually supposed to begin in this month of June, though it also depends with the diocese since each diocese has its organization on placement of seminarians,” he said and continued, “This has not happened but we just have to bear with the situation, hoping that what has been lost during this period will be recovered in the years coming.”
According to the rector of Blessed Bakanja AMECEA College (BBAC) Fr. Peter Moudie concerning the pastoral work of seminarians he said, “For pastoral work as part of seminary formation, the Bishops will decide whether they will need to give the seminarians more time to have pastoral experience or not.”
Considering that BBAC is an international seminary with students from the Association of Member Episcopal Conferences in Eastern Africa (AMECEA) region and others from South Africa, Congo, Rwanda and Djibouti, Fr. Moudie’s concern is the challenge on how the seminarians will report back to the seminary which is located in Kenya when each country has its own guidelines concerning COVID-19 pandemic.
“Most of our students are from different countries and the lockdown system varies from country to country. So we don’t know what will happen when Kenya reopen schools in September and lifts lockdown while other countries continue with the restrictions,” The rector said and added, “this will
Malawi Government through Ministry of Health has donated skills lab equipment to the Faculty of Nursing and Midwifery at the Catholic University of Malawi to reduce the student -equipment ratio in the skills laboratory.
The donation follows a needs assessment that the Ministry conducted in institutions of higher learning that offer Nursing and Midwifery courses in the country.
Dean of the Faculty of Nursing and Midwifery at Catholic University Susan Sundu has applauded the Malawi Government for the donation saying it has beefed up skills lab equipment that the University has.
Sundu added that the donation will help lecturers in demonstrating to students during practical lessons in the Skills lab.
“As a young faculty we still lack skills equipment. As such, this donation is a relief. Actually we had plans to buy the equipment but now the money will be invested in something else,” said Sundu.
The Ministry has donated three Pelvic Models that are used for Midwifery demonstration when students are in the skills lab.
The three Pelvic Models have been donated to Nursing and Midwifery Institution of higher learning in the country with the help of the Department of International Development (DFID) and The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).
Established in 2015, the Faculty of Nursing and Midwifery has over one hundred and fifty students enrolled at the Catholic University of Malawi. The Faculty of Nursing and Midwifery released the first cohort of its graduates in 2019.
The faculty is among the seven faculties at the Catholic University of Malawi.
On Friday, June 12, nuns from the Missionaries of Sisters of the Precious Blood congregation moved in to distribute food stuff and other items to needy families in the locality Kawangware and Riruta slums in the city of Nairobi.
“We decided to dedicate this day to the distribution of the food stuff and other items which we had sourced for the purpose of intervening during this Corona Virus pandemic,” said Sister Grace Njau, Coordinator of the Amani Rehabilitation Centre and Primary School, run by the Congregation.
The nuns, assisted by teachers and social workers spent much of the day, reaching out to the families through the contacts of the children.
“We are lucky that we do not have any problem to reach these needy families. We have their contacts through their children so much that a simple telephone helps us reach the targeted families,” explained Sr Njau.
Together, the Rehab Centre and Primary School have over 200 children and drawn mainly from Kawangware and Riruta informal settlement sectors.
“In normal situation, we feed these children at our Rehabilitation Centre and Primary School but in this time of Coronavirus we have established a new way of doing things, it is by reaching the families,” explained Sr Grace.
School teacher Hassan Kariuki Warui, who participated in the distribution of the items, commended this mode of carrying out the distribution.
“It’s quite effective. I like it. It leaves no doubt that the intended items are going right to the poor,” he emphasized.
In Kenya, the Catholic Church through the Bishops, priests and Religious women are currently involved in efforts to avail humanitarian assistance to the needy and poor families as the Coronavirus pandemic continues to hit the country hard, socio-economically.
Sr. Jecinter Antoinette Okoth, FSSA
|African Child Day|
The commemoration of International Day of African Child on Tuesday, June 16, focused on concern for each other during the Covid-19 pandemic, especially the children who are voiceless.
“Let us be our brother’s keeper,” Secretary General of Nature Nurture Club of Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA) Ms. Ashley Kitisya said in a virtual zoom meeting attended by approximately 70 participants from across African countries, Europe and America.
“People in our society especially in Africa should be more vigilant and protect children from violence especially now that we are facing this pandemic,” Ms. Kitisya highlighted adding that “There is increase in gender based-violence, sexual violence, early pregnancies, forced labor, child trafficking, early marriages and increased cases of Female Genital Mutilation.”
Ms. Kitisya urged the participants to speak out when they see children suffering so as to save their lives since children are voiceless. “And since they are not going to school right now, they are experiencing some culture-based abuses influenced by the elders who still hold on to their traditional practices.”
Convened under the theme “Children’s Right and Black Lives Matter,” the Justice Peace and Integrity of Creation Franciscans Africa (JPICFA) Program Manager Steven Kezamutima told AMECEA Online that the annual event was connected to Pope Francis’ encyclical letter Laudato Si and climate Justice.
“We must learn to value the cultures of one another but also to heal the wrongs and injustices that have been done to the marginalized, and vulnerable people,” Mr. Kezamutima said as he explained the connection between the event’ theme to and Laudato Si’.
“This means recognizing the value and the dignity of all people of colour, especially children; recognizing that people of different countries and cultures especially in the global south can offer solutions to the ecological crisis in front of us, hence the need to learn from one another,” he added.
Mr. Kezamutima who was the organizer and moderator of the event further stated, “Acknowledging the African roots of black people, and black children, regardless of where they are in the world, is especially important on this international day of the African child. We must do what we can to care for the physical, mental, and spiritual health of black children, in Africa.”
To mark the International Day of African Child, the conveners of the day in partnership with CUEA, JPICFA and the Global Catholic Climate Movement (GCCM) Africa visited two children’s homes that give care to former street children.
“Boys from these children’s homes (the Global Hope Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre and Mary Immaculate Children home) benefited from some charity items collected from some communities of the Franciscans brothers and sisters,” Mr. Kezamutima disclosed.
“The visit to the homes also had an interfaith aspect as Muslims also brought some contribution to the program,” JPICFA Program Manager added.
“We must work together to find new, creative ways to bring people of different backgrounds together to work for common goals of health, wellness, sustainability, education, peace, and celebration of cultures,” he said.
Step Kids Awareness-STEKA homes in the Archdiocese of Blantyre is wearing a new face, courtesy of financial support from Missio Malta through the Pontifical Mission societies of Malawi (PMS).
Joan’s Craft Charity of Missio Malta provided funds which have been used to renovate and furnish STEKA homes currently housing 74 homeless children drawn from various parts of Malawi.
PMS National Coordinator Fr Vincent Mwakhwawa said Missio Malta was moved to support the renovations and procurement of new apparatus for skills training at the children’s homes because of its uniqueness in supporting the development of vulnerable children.
He was speaking on Monday, June 16 when director and founder of STEKA Home Godknows Maseko held a ceremony for blessings the refurbished home graced by Archbishop Thomas Luke Msusa.
“I am grateful for the support. The place looks transformed and conducive for the upbringing of a child,” said the PMS National Director.
Apart from providing shelter and food to homeless children, Maseko and his wife Hellen also provide moral, spiritual and education support to the children at STEKA Homes.
His Grace Archbishop Msusa hailed the Maseko family for their selfless love to humanity through STEKA Homes.
“I am very delighted with what I have seen here. This family is teaching children to be self-reliant; children are raised holistically not only spiritually, physically and morally but their skills are also sharpened through educational support to universities and vocational skills colleges,” he observed.
The director and founder of STEKA commended the Archbishop and Missio Malta for the moral and spiritual support which has helped them reach out to vulnerable children.
“I would like to thank His Grace Archbishop Msusa for he has been praying for us and encouraging all that we do here, not forgetting the children themselves for their commitment to the work they do. They are really self-reliant.
STEKA was established in 2007 in order to take care of homeless children from the streets, abandoned and damped babies and orphans that have lost both parents. Over the years STEKA raised homeless children into independent and reliable citizens through various professional jobs and enterprises they venture in after graduating from STEKA homes.
Sr. Jecinter Antoinette Okoth, FSSA
|Inauguration of Inter-Faith Council|
The government of Kenya has set up an Inter-Faith Council that will be headed by Archbishop Anthony Muheria of Nyeri Archdiocese to look into modalities of reopening places of worship which were closed in March as a measure to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“Honouring the sacrifices made by Kenyans of all faiths; noting their enormous patience and forbearance in being unable to exercise their religious rights in the normal way; and recognizing the need to develop protocols that will guide the re-opening of places of worship” Government of Kenya has appointed 16 members from various faith communities to form council as gazette on Friday, June 12.
The Council that was inaugurated on Wednesday, June 17, has been mandated to develop stringent protocols for phased re-opening of places of worship; guidelines towards the gradual and progressive resumption of in-person congregational worship that adheres to physical and social distancing guidelines; protocols for the celebration of weddings and other religious ceremonies in ways compliant with the guidelines; protocols for religious funerals, gravesides and crematoria last rites and send-off; to develop a programme for public sensitization and capacity-building of all religious leaders and clergy on the protocols.”
Archbishop Muheria noted during the inauguration that “the council’s efforts will only be successful if Kenyans are willing to comply with government regulations, among them social distancing and proper sanitation.”
The Church leaders “shall be answerable to the President of the Republic of Kenya, through the National and County Governments Co-ordinating Summit,” the Gazette notice reads.
The Inter- Faith Council will “Solicit, receive and consider any written memoranda or information from the public; and conduct any other actions or activities required for the effective discharge of its mandate.”
The mandate of the Council “shall lapse on 31st December, 2020; but may be extended at the discretion of His Excellency the President.”
Other members of the Inter-Faith Council include Rt. (Rev.) Bishop John Oballa, Rt. (Rev.) Bishop Joseph Obanyi, Rt. (Rev.) Moderator Julius Mwamba, Rev. (Can.) Chris Kamau Kinyanjui, Rev. (Can.) Rosemary Mbogo, Pastor (Dr.) Samuel Makori, Al Hajj Hassan Ole Naado, Sheikh Sukyan Hassan Omar, Sheikh Abdulatif Abdulkarim, Rev. (Fr.) Joseph Mutie, Bishop (Dr.) David Oginde, Rev. Connie Kivuti, Sujata Kotamraju, Rt. Rev. (Dr.) Samuel Thiong’o Mwangi and Sheikh Ali Saidi Samojah.