Every now and then, the Pastoral Department of the Inter 1 Regional Meeting of Bishops of Southern Africa (IMBISA) organises meetings of Rectors and Seminary Formators from the Seminaries and other Houses of Formation in the Region. A similar meeting titled “Colloquium on Laudato Sì” took place on the 30th September-3rd October 2019 for Rectors and Professors of the Social Teaching of the Church from all the eleven Theological Seminaries/Institutes in IMBISA. The meeting took place in Johannesburg, South Africa.
The main aim of the meeting was to allow Formators to reflect together on the Papal Encyclical Laudato Sì and share their reflections on it. Choosing Laudato Sì as the focus of the meeting was informed by the priorities of the IMBISA Plenary Assembly of 2016 and this needed to filter down to the formation of priests in the Region.
The formation of future priests “is considered by the Church as one of the most demanding and important tasks for the future of the evangelization of humanity” (Pastores dabo vobis, 2). This is because priests are teachers and leaders of the communities where the church breathes. Therefore, when a Plenary Assembly of IMBISA takes place, it is important that its orientations and decisions filter to the formation of priests and future priests. Without this consideration, an important area of church life would be neglected.
Pope Francis laments that education, aimed at creating an ‘ecological citizenship’, good as it may be, is at times limited to providing information and fails to instil good habits (Cf. Laudato Sì, 211). “It is my hope that our seminaries and houses of formation will provide an education in responsible simplicity of life, in grateful contemplation of God’s world, and in concern for the needs of the poor and the protection of the environment” (Laudato Sì, 214). Obviously, the Holy Father is looking at moving beyond the provision of information to formation. This is clearly emphasised for future priests without forgetting or worse still neglecting the formation of those who are already ordained.
The reflections contained in this booklet were presented by Formators in the theological seminaries in IMBISA during the aforementioned colloquium. There is no pretence in this publication to offer lofty theological treatises on Laudato Sì. Yet, these reflections provide helpful reading for understanding country experiences and indeed the missionary activity of the church as demanded by Laudato Sì. At the same time the reflections should invite all to a certain ecological conversion. I am thus most grateful to all who were courageous enough to offer their reflections for subsequent publication by IMBISA.
Quite a number of people assisted IMBISA in the successful hosting of the colloquium as well as the printing of this publication. The following persons are certainly worth mentioning:
- Bishops Joseph Mopeli Sephamola OMI and António Juliasse Sandremo who preside over the Pastoral Department of IMBISA, for their guidance and encouragement.
- The Staff at the IMBISA Secretariat, Ms. Brenda Gwasira and Mrs. Nyasha Chinogara Makuvise, who handled the administrative tasks associated with this project.
- Fr. Carlos Gabriel and Mrs. Odete Amaral who handled the translations, from Portuguese to English and vice versa, during the colloquium itself and towards the printing of this booklet.
- Sr. Janice Mclaghlin who handled the editorial works of the booklet, especially making sure that the English text passes grammatical scrutiny.
- The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops who, from their Solidarity Fund for the Church in Africa, provided financial assistance for the hosting of the colloquium as well as the printing of this booklet
Fr. Dumisani Vilakati
IMBISA Director of the Secretariat.
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