Sr. Grace Candiru, MSMMC
His Eminence Joáo Braz Cardinal de Aviz, will give a keynote address at the 18th plenary assembly of the Association of Consecrate Women in Eastern and Central Africa (ACWECA), the body’s President Sr. Cecilia Njeri has confirmed.
She said the address of the Cardinal who is also the Prefect of the Congregation for the Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, (CICLSAL) will help to re-awaken the prophetic role of consecrated women in the ACWECA Region.
The ACWECA Secretary General, Sr. Hellen Bandiho, whose team from the regional Secretariat in Nairobi has been working closely with the team from the hosting country Kenya, could not agree more.
“It is nice to see a top person from the Vatican giving a keynote address to the sisters during the assembly,” she said, in reference to Cardinal Aviz address, adding that this would help the sisters to know the thinking of the Church.
Expounding on the theme of the Plenary Assembly Re-awaken our prophetic role: A call for Reformation towards Holistic transformation in the Region Today, the ACWECA President Sr. Njeri said it is geared towards bringing renewal and seeing to it that “we live authentic consecrated lives.”
With the days drawing closer to the triennial event slated to run from 23rd to 27th August 2021, Sr. Njeri who is based in Uganda recently moved to the Secretariat of the Organisation in Nairobi, Kenya to work closely with the team there.
The Assembly which she said was initially slated to take place in August 2020 was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “This Plenary Assembly was supposed to have taken place last year but it was postponed in the hope that things would be better,” she said.
She said due to the challenge posed by the current pandemic resulting into restricted movements in some of their member countries, the ACWECA Board of Directors was forced to think outside the box.
“We need to learn to read the signs of times and act accordingly,” she said of the challenge.
She said the Board of Directors opted to go on with the Plenary Assembly which she said will now be held online, noting that it was a good challenge which had become the new normal.
So far, information from the ACWECA Administrative Assistant’s office revealed that the Sisters are ready to take on the online conference. Ms. Veronica Achieng who has been following up the delegates to the Assembly confirmed in a separate interview that the Sisters had shown proficiency in Zoom conferencing that by press time, 198 participants had confirmed their participation.
“We had set up two weeks to induct delegates in online zoom conferencing but only found one percent who needed assistance,” she said.
She noted that most sisters seemed conversant handling zoom conferencing and she credits it to the current COVID-19 situation which has forced everything to go online.
The ACWECA President further said the theme of the Assembly was clearly explained in Roman 12:1-2, noting that “we shall only be true prophets if we listen to God.” She said the theme of the Assembly provides consecrated women in the region with an opportunity to “re-examine ourselves.”
“Our world has been shaken by the current situation of the COVID-19 pandemic and the challenge for us now is how can we bring hope to our people who are faced with health emergencies, poverty, inequality, loss of jobs and hopelessness?, she asked.
The Nun who is also the Superior General of the Little Sisters of St. Francis said it was high time religious congregations in the region seriously took up their formation. “We need to seriously take up both our initial and ongoing formation so as to enhance our prophetic role,” she said.
This, she said would help Religious women to take up the mission of Christ.
She applauded the preparatory teams in ACWECA Secretariat and from the hosting team at the Association of Sisterhoods of Kenya whom she said have been working behind the scenes to make the Assembly come to realization.
Although some Sisters will be participating using the Zoom conferencing application for the first time, she was optimistic that the sisters are set for the plenary Assembly.
“It will be a learning experience for many but they will see that it is possible,” she said.
Apart from the Sisters in Eritrea who expressed challenges related to connectivity, the ACWECA Secretary General said all the Council of Delegates from the region and other invited guests had already confirmed their participation.
She noted the Sisters from Eritrea had proposed an alternative which could see other Eritrean nuns residing outside of the country attending on their behalf but that her office was yet to receive this list from the Secretariat in Eritrea. Regardless of the above options, she said the Sisters in Eritrea would still have access to the presentations which will be shared with them electronically besides the final Plenary Assembly notes that would be published at the end of the Assembly.
Sr. Christine Wairimu Mwangi who is the team leader for the recording secretaries said her team of four is ensuring that they have access to all the Plenary Assembly documents. This according to her would be helpful especially for those who would wish to electronically access the documents. Additionally, the documents would feature in the publication of the final plenary assembly notes.
Meanwhile, plans have been made to ensure that all invited delegates would be able to participate in the Plenary Assembly. And according to the ACWECA Finance officer, Sr. Betty Grace Atim, her office is finalising this logistics.
“We have lobbied with our cooperating partners and we are ensuring that each participant is facilitated to access data bundles for the Assembly,” she said.
Already delegates who gave correct phone details that have mobile money services have already been facilitated. They are now in the process of completing the transactions to ensure that the delegates have time to get ready for the assembly which is just around the corner.END