At the 11th IMBISA Plenary Assembly in Lesotho in 2016, the Bishops mandated the Secretariat and staff of IMBISA to gather and disseminate information informed by Laudato Sì. At the same time the Bishops committed themselves to the care of the earth our common home, appealing to all women and men of goodwill to take the issue of the environment seriously. Since then, the Secretariat has organised various events on Laudato Sì. This has included moments with the Secretaries General of the Episcopal Conferences in IMBISA, Young People, Seminary Rectors and Professors of the Social Teaching of the Church at the Theological Seminaries in the IMBISA Region. Noteworthy too is that the Bishops resolved at the 12th IMBISA Plenary Assembly in Mozambique in 2019 to continue with the dissemination of information on Laudato Sì.
This manual, having been prepared by the IMBISA Secretariat, is part of fulfilling the mandate received from the Bishops at the last two Plenary Assemblies. It is meant to assist Pastoral Workers and provides for an easy reading and understanding of Laudato Sì. The manual is arranged in such a way that it can be used in various settings including Small Christian Communities, Sodalities, classroom situations, families and other groupings wherever Christians may find themselves. The manual invites for the groups to reflect together using the pastoral cycle (See-Judge-Act). In this way all are invited to an active participation with the sure hope that they will embark on a practical transformative activity.
This transformative activity should not just be an external activism, but something that goes much deeper, which Pope Francis calls an ecological conversion. “The ecological crisis is also a summons to profound interior conversion. Some committed and prayerful Christians, with the excuse of realism and pragmatism, tend to ridicule expressions of concern for the environment. Others are passive; they choose not to change their habits and thus become inconsistent. So what they all need is an “ecological conversion”, whereby the effects of their encounter with Jesus Christ become evident in their relationship with the world around them. Living our vocation to be protectors of God’s handiwork is essential to a life of virtue; it is not an optional or a secondary aspect of our Christian experience” (LS 217).
Special thanks goes to all who have participated in the production of this manual. In the first place a word of gratitude goes to Ms. Mantobi Lebofu from Lesotho who, in the main, created this manual. Ms. Mantobi is well aware of the hazards of soil degradation having observed first-hand what has happened in her own country, Lesotho. She is passionate about the subject of protection and care for the environment. It is our hope that the reader will be able to experience this passion in the pages that follow. A word of gratitude also goes to Sr. Anna Theresa Nyadombo HLMC from Zimbabwe who assisted with the editorial elements of the manual. Thirdly, sincere thanks goes to Ms. Brenda Gwasira, the Program Officer at IMBISA, for coordinating the work of the publication of this manual. Last but not least, a word of gratitude is also in order for the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (CAFOD) for availing the human and financial resources for our Laudato Sì project in general as well as the publication of this manual.
“Triune Lord, wondrous community of infinite love,
teach us to contemplate you
in the beauty of the universe,
for all things speak of you.
Awaken our praise and thankfulness
for every being that you have made.
Give us the grace to feel profoundly joined
to everything that is” (LS 246).”
Fr. Dumisani Vilakati