To the Presidents and Members of the National and Regional
Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar
Dear Brothers in the Episcopate,
Peace to each one of you, in the name of our Lord Jesus-Christ, who has given us the grace to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM).
Yes, Brothers, let us recall that every 50 years the people of Israel were required to celebrate, in a special manner, the God who was their liberator, and his demands of fraternal love and social justice (cf. Lv 25, 8-22). The Prophet Isaiah foretells God’s gratuitous liberation and restoration of his suffering and humiliated people after the exile (cf. Is 61, 1-4), with other nations serving them (vv 5-6). Today, by his passion, death and resurrection, Jesus Christ extends this divine jubilee of liberation, restoration, and reconciliation foreseen for Israel, to all of humanity and creation (cf. Lk 4, 1-19; John 12:32).
During our Plenary Assembly, held in July 2016, in Luanda (Angola), we decided to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the birth of SECAM, and the visit of Pope Paul VI, who closed the Plenary Assembly that constituted SECAM at Kampala (Uganda) in 1969. We are preparing to celebrate this Golden Jubilee on Sunday, 28 July 2019, in Kampala, by a year-long activity of thanksgiving, reflection, repentance, conversion, reconciliation and commitment; on the theme: « Church-Family of God in Africa, Celebrate Your Jubilee! Proclaim Jesus Christ Your Saviour ».
On Sunday, 29th August 2018, in Kampala, we celebrated the launch of this Jubilee Year with the members of the Standing Committee of SECAM, and the participation of other bishops, the clergy, consecrated persons and the lay faithful.
To guide this year-long communal journey that begins on 1stAugust 2018, we prepared an Instrumentum Laboris, which we are sending to you with this covering letter. It contains a thematic Calendar that runs from August 2018 to June 2019. This Jubilee Year is an opportunity for us to give thanks to God for his innumerable gifts; to reflect on the progress made so far, to ask for forgiveness for our shortcomings, and above all, to continue, in a more determined manner, our journey as Church-Family of God towards a better future, letting ourselves to be enlightened by the Gospel.
Each month, a theme, enlightened by the Word of God and a text from one of the two Synods of the Universal Church dedicated to Africa, is proposed for meditation and action.
As the Standing Committee in Kampala strongly wished, is Road Map (the Instrumentum Laboris) is a starting point which can be enriched by other biblical texts, documents of the Magisterium and other related topics. Each Christian Community is encouraged to draw from these documents, the ethical, socio-cultural, political, economic, pastoral, liturgical and spiritual implications relevant to its context. Guided by the Holy Spirit, let us allow ourselves to be enlightened by the witness of the Martyrs of Uganda and all the Saints of Africa, as well as by the pastors, consecrated persons and the laity who have left a mark on our diverse local churches.
With the Instrumentum Laboris, kindly find enclosed the Prayer that will accompany the Jubilee Year. We invite each Episcopal Conference to determine its own appropriate moment for saying this prayer. The prayer sustains our journey and brings all our local communities into communion with the whole Church-Family of God in Africa and Madagascar. Further, the Flyer enclosed in this letter will help us to make our Symposium (SECAM) better known.
Kindly permit us, Brothers, to ask you to distribute these documents widely: in all your Regions, Conferences, dioceses, parishes, religious communities, formation houses, academic institutions and universities, pious societies, prayer groups, movements of the apostolate and associations of children, the youth, women and men. May our pastoral plans and programs at regional, national, diocesan and parish levels, be imbued with the spirit of the Golden Jubilee of SECAM.
Beloved Brothers, in the Old Testament, the jubilee year began with the sound of the trumpet (yôbel in Hebrew, from which comes the word « jubilee »). In the same way, let us all use every possible means of communication to proclaim and set in motion the Jubilee activities of thanksgiving, conversion, reconciliation, justice, peace and commitment for Africa. To this effect, we invite, as a reminder, every Episcopal Conference and each diocese to solemnly celebrate the opening of the Jubilee Year and to keep alive the highpoints of its year-long celebration (cf. the Jubilee Calendar).
We thank you for your availability and your commitment to the service of the Church-Family of God in Africa and Madagascar. Through the intercession of Our Lady of Africa, of Saint Joseph, of all the saints and martyrs of this continent, we assure you of our fraternal communion and our pastoral solidarity.
On behalf of SECAM,
Most Rev. Gabriel MBILINGI
Archbishop of Lubango (Angola)
President of SECAM
Kampala, Uganda, 29th July 2018.