The Bishops of the IMBISA Region (Inter-Regional Meeting of Bishops of Southern Africa) have gathered for their 13th plenary assembly in Windhoek Namibia and the Official Opening Ceremony was held today. The theme for this assembly is Building forward together: Reimagining the Church’s Engagement with young people in the IMBISA region in the light of Pope Francis’ Exhortation, Christus Vivit.
The ceremony started with the singing of the national anthems of Namibia and that of the African Union (AU) Archbishop Liborius Ndambukuti Nashenda OMI Bishop of Windhoek Diocese in Namibia welcomed all the delegates to the plenary. He welcomed in a special way the youths who came from all our nine countries in the IMBISA region. He highlighted on how both the country and the Church in Namibia has developed since the last plenary which was held in 1995. IMBISA president Bishop Lucio Andrice Muandula, Bishop of Xai-Xai Diocese in Mozambique welcomed the newly ordained bishops in the past three years to this fraternity of bishops. In his capacity as the president of IMBISA he declared the plenary officially opened. The Apostolic Nuncio to Namibia Archbishop Peter Brian Wells also gave his remarks explaining the call of the Holy father to Synodality and extended the warm greetings of Pope Francis to all the delegates of this 13th Plenary Assembly. Honourable Vice President of Namibia Dr Nangolo Mbumba gave the keynote address. He thanked the Catholic Church in this region for the support they gave to all the countries during the liberation struggles around the region. He also extended a special welcome to all the delegates to the Republic of Namibia.
After the Opening Session (State Function) we had interventions from the USCCB, SECAM and from the Holy See Dicastery for the Promotion of Integral Human Development. Dr James Nyawo a Zimbabwean professor currently lecturing in Nairobi Kenya will be giving inputs on the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation, Christus Vivit for the next two days. He highlighted how the Apostolic Exhortation is an invitation by the Holy Father to ‘build forward together’. The big concern of the Holy Father in Christus Vivit is that the ‘Church has been captured by those who make her grow old!’ Allowing such retrogression makes the Church irrelevant to young people. The Church needs to move together so that it goes very far (cf C.V. 167). Ms Dorrett Byrd also gave her intervention on behalf of the Catholic Relief Services which is doing a great job in our region. The day was concluded by the celebration of Holy Mass by the Apostolic Nuncio to Namibia Archbishop Peter Brian Wells who in his homily emphasised the issue of availabity to service as bishops, priests and the religious.