HIGHLIGHTS OF THE 18TH SECAM PLENARY ASSEMBLY AND GOLDEN JUBILEE

The 18TH SECAM PLENARY ASSEMBLY AND GOLDEN JUBILEE took place in Kampala, Uganda 20-29 July 2019 on the theme: “Church-Family of God in Africa, Celebrate Your Jubilee! Proclaim Jesus Christ Your Saviour”.

The members of the SECAM Standing Committee, Secretariat Staff and Comitheol Members arrived earlier from 14th July 2019 to ensure that preparatory works were done accordingly for the Plenary to commence as expected. All other participants begun arriving on 20th July 2019.

The Opening Mass took place on Sunday 21st July 2019 at the Sacred Heart Cathedral at Lubaga (Kampala). The main celebrant was the outgoing President of SECAM, Most Rev. Gabriel Mbilingi, Archbishop of Lubango, Angola. In a homily, Most Rev. Charles Gabriel Palmer-Buckle, Archbishop of Cape Coast, Ghana, said the Church in Africa has a lot to be grateful for considering the growth in the clergy and religious and the lay faithful compared to 50 year ago.

The occasion was graced by the President of Uganda, Mr. Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, who, just before the beginning of the Mass, addressed the congregation; he welcomed the delegates and called for a reflection on the welfare of the people.

The official opening of the 18th Plenary Assembly and Golden Jubilee took place later that day at the Speke Commonwealth Resort, Munyonyo, the venue that hosted the activities.At this event, there were messages from the Vatican, the Catholic Church in Uganda, Partner organisations and the Uganda government. It was an opportunity to formally welcome all delegates and participants to the Plenary Assembly and to wish them well in the deliberations and in the Golden Jubilee celebrations.

From the 22 – 24 July 2019, there was a workshop on the theme of the Golden Jubilee. Key presentations were made regarding important aspects of the Golden Jubilee: Rev. Sr. Teresa OKURE, SHCJ made the first presentation on the Topic: Contextualising the Theme of the Workshop: “Church-Family of God in Africa, Celebrate Your Jubilee! Proclaim Jesus Christ Your Saviour”. His Eminence, Robert Cardinal SARAH also followed with a presentation titled “Evangelisation – Then and Now (The Kampala Heritage): A Pastoral Historical Journey of SECAM”. Rev. Fr. José LUEMBA presented a paper on “Globalisation and Ecological Challenges”, which was complemented by another paper from. Mr. Kizito TENTHANI who addressed the topic from the perspective of “Socio-Cultural, Political and Economic Challenges”, The topic, “Possibilities (Occasions) for Missionary Activity in Todays Africa” was also delivered by Rt. Rev. John MacWilliam, M. Afr.  Most Rev. Fulgence MUTEBA spoke on “New Mentalities, New Spiritualities, New Pastoral Strategies”.

These presentations provided the basis for group discussions and recommendations regarding the theme of Golden Jubilee and the teaching that the Bishops should derive from it going forward. The idea was to deepen the elements that should be contained in a Pastoral Document, which was then in draft form. Once done, the pastoral document will be known as the Kampala Pastoral Document. It will be a self-reflection of the Church in Africa for the past 50 years, and a pastoral guide for the Church for the years to come after the Golden Jubilee.

After the workshop, all other delegates were excused as the bishops adjourned into the Business Session of the 18th Plenary Assembly. This was from 25-27th July 2019. During the Business Session the Bishops elected His Eminence Philippe Nakellentuba Cardinal Ouédraogo, Archbishop of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, as the new President of SECAM for the next 3years. They also elected Rt. Rev. Sithembele Sipuka, Bishop of Mthatha, South Africa and Rt. Rev. Lucio Muandula, Bishop of Xai-Xai, in Mozambique, as 1st and 2nd Vice Presidents, respectively. They also elected Rev. Fr. Henry Terwase Akaabiam of Gboko Diocese in Nigeria to be the Secretary General of SECAM for the same period.

28th July 2019 was the date for the Solemn Mass to mark the SECAM Golden Jubilee celebration at the Uganda Martyrs’ Shrine at Namugongo. His Eminence Philippe Nakellentuba Cardinal Ouédraogo was the Main Celebrant; the Homilist was Bishop Sithembele Sipuka, the newly elected 1st Vice President of SECAM.

The service ended with the reading of a Message on Families from the Dicastery of Laity, Family and Life and the Final Message of the 18th Plenary Assembly and Golden Jubilee of SECAM. The Vice President of the Government of Uganda, graced the occasion and gave an address at the end of the Mass.

The Solemn Mass was followed by a Celebratory Dinner where the SECAM Jubilee cake was cut.

The events in Kampala ended with a courtesy call on the Republican President of Uganda by a SECAM delegation comprising the new SECAM Presidency and a small delegation from the Uganda Episcopal Conference.

Concurrent with the visit to the President of Uganda, a special Mass was held at the Munyonyo Shrine to dedicate the Church into a Minor Basilica by Cardinal Sarah.

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