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DIOCESE OF HWANGE

FIRST DIOCESAN SYNOD

17th NOVEMBER-7th DECEMBER 2014

MESSAGE OF THE SYNOD

“IN THE LIGHT OF THE RISEN LORD TOGETHER WE WALK”
‘Go therefore and make disciples…’ (Mt 28:19)

Preamble
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, on the 1st of May 2011, our Bishop Albert Serrano, convoked the Diocesan Synod. None of us knew exactly how this first synod would evolve. Needless to say, the synod would not have been possible without the leadership of the priests, religious and the various focus groups in the parishes and missions. Today would not have been possible if sharing of ideas and feelings about the Church we cherish was not done in love and commitment.
We the synod members, gathered with and under the authority of our Bishop on the theme, “In The Light Of The Risen Lord Together we Walk” are very pleased to present to you a synopsis of deliberations on the issues affecting the ministry of the Church in the Diocese, which hopefully, will evolve into our Diocesan Pastoral Plan/Directory.
All the themes and issues dealt with at the Synod were already discussed at grassroots level in groups across the Diocese through the questionnaires. The results of these discussions were compiled into the Working Document that served as the basis for the deliberations at the Synod sessions. We used two types of sessions; namely, small groups by languages and plenary sessions. The aim of the small group sessions was to look at the reflections on the Working Document presented in the Synod and elaborate concrete propositions. On the plenary sessions propositions were further discussed and voted.
With love and gratitude we issue this message to you while awaiting the final document from our Bishop Albert Serrano.
 Evangelization

1. The Church exists to evangelize. This is her mission and essence. We are convinced that the first and most specific contribution of the Church to the people of our Diocese is to proclaim the Gospel of Christ. Our commitment comes from a change of heart, and a change of heart comes from conversion to the Gospel. In this light, we accept our responsibility as “ambassadors for Christ” (2 Cor 5:20). We remember the words of St Paul “woe to me, if I don’t preach the gospel” (1 Cor 9:16). In this regard, we recognize and encourage all members of the diocese, clergy, religious and lay faithful to coordinate our work with that of the Local Bishop in order to become joyful messengers of the good news.

The Synod emphasizes the need for Small Christian Communities as a way of being church and a means of evangelization.
The new era of evangelization with its challenges and opportunities promotes small Christian Communities, with the model of Church-as-Family. It perceives a need for re-evangelization of all Catholics by fostering an encounter with Jesus. It also saw the need for greater outreach to lapsed Catholics and to those who do not belong to any church. Our dream is for the entire Church to be an evangelizing Church; that all members, Clergy, religious and laity, see themselves as sharing in the evangelizing mission of Christ.

2. Our Synod of the Diocese takes place at a time our country is confronted with recurrent challenges like poverty and disease, ignorance, political instability and incessant economic and social malaise as well as cultural practices that degrade humanity. We therefore should not be afraid, less still, be discouraged by, the enormity of the problems of our Diocese. We encourage you to remain steadfast.          

3. The Synod assembly addresses first the Priests, who are the necessary and closest collaborators of the bishop as agents of evangelization, to continue taking good care of the flock of God. We encourage them to re-embark on that primary duty of proclaiming Christ which they assumed at their ordination with fresh impetus, up-dating and renewing themselves with knowledge both religious and secular.

4. Next, we address you the religious. The Diocese appreciates your tremendous contributions in the areas of education, health and to be more involved in parish pastoral work. This Synod further calls on all to continue to recognize and support you.

5. We also address you, the lay faithful of the Diocese. Your effective witness in all the areas of human endeavor in which you live and work is apparent. Your great contributions in the Church as catechists, church leaders, and your active role in associations and movements are also there for all to see. The Synod asks you to renew your commitment to Christ in the church.

6. In a very particular way, we address you, the youth in our communities. You are not just the future of the Church with us you are the Church. You should be in the forefront of positive social change and instruments of peace. We feel the need to pay particular attention to you. You are often neglected, left adrift as targets for all kinds of ideologies and sects. You are the ones most often recruited and used for violence. We urge all of us in the Diocese to consider the apostolate to the youth a priority.

7. The Lord Jesus Christ said, “Let the little children come to me. To such belongs the kingdom of God” (Mt 19:14). The Synod has not forgotten you our dear little children. You are always the object of our care and attention. But we also acknowledge and are anxious to positively use your enthusiasm and effectiveness as active agents of evangelization, especially among your peers. You shall be given adequate space, facilities and direction to organize by setting effective methods of catechesis adapted to your age. We are grateful to all who dedicate themselves to the apostolate of children in the diocese. You are our hope for a better future of the diocese and we urge you to remain close to Christ and the Church.

8. We encourage you all – priests, religious and lay faithful – agents of evangelization, never to turn back from the course you are already taking, but above all seek new ways of even greater efficiency. Therefore, the advocacy for pastoral care directed to persons and groups not traditionally emphasized, is very pertinent and timely.  This is not to say that those traditional structures of evangelization such as, parishes, pastoral centers, schools, health centers, religious movements and associations no longer retain their validity. On the contrary, they are the established pillars on which the new ones stand and are sustained.

9. The Pastoral Centers facilitate the training and on-going formation of pastoral agents. We encourage ourselves in the Diocese to actively participate in programs that help our growth in faith and commitment in life as salt and light to the earth. We want to support them fully to take care of this task.

10. Lay movements and associations in the Diocese have achieved much as agents of evangelization. They are very vital for evangelization and Christian formation. We encourage them to embark on diligent information of the lay faithful on their aims and objectives so that they not appear to be competing with one another and dividing rather than uniting the Body of Christ. We urge that the translation of the literature of these lay movements and associations be available to accelerate familiarization to our people with their content and style. Priests are admonished to intensify efforts at accompanying and nourishing the lay faithful in their efforts for spiritual growth.

11. We acknowledge the contribution of the Diocese to education. Our schools are among the best. Authentic education must be integral and well- rounded embracing both academics and an appreciation of the core values of the Gospel. We encourage all Christians to be involved in this noble venture. Families must not discard the responsibility to educate their children.

12. We restate that Catholic health centers in the Diocese are not only places to provide medical care but also avenues to evangelize. For this reason, every patient should be treated with dignity and loving attention. We earnestly acknowledge and appreciate the dedication of all the health workers in the Diocese and urge them on. We urge the Christian faithful to pay regular visits to the sick within their vicinities. Priests of the diocese should also remain committed to their ministry to the sick.

13. We all must not forget, however, that the Church evangelizes primarily through proclamation of the Word of God and sustains that proclamation through witness of life. We, therefore must be people properly rooted in the Word of God. The twelfth ordinary assembly of the Synod of Bishops focused on the Word of God in the Life of the Church and the Second Vatican Council has given an important teaching Dei verbum on Divine Revelation. We highly encourage Christians to learn more about Holy Scriptures and to use the bible at personal and group level. Meanwhile, we praise the Diocese for the existing Bible in Nambya, and encourage its use.

14. We recommend the Diocese to make policies on catechetical issues and make use of the RCIA. We encourage that the translations of the catechetical and liturgical material be made available in Dombe.

Ongoing Formation for Clergy, Religious and Lay Faithful

15. Since education is a life-long process within and beyond the school halls or classrooms, the Synod resolves its commitment to promoting ongoing formation in view of the pressing challenges to evangelization. The synod strongly recommends on-going formation for priests, religious and the laity in specific fields of competence.

Conclusion

16. We thank the Lord for the work done at the Synod. May He protect us and help us to grow in holiness and sanctity through his grace.

May He pour out His Holy Spirit anew on all so as to be renewed in our commitment to the service of evangelization in our various ministries.

Through this synod may the Lord teach us to listen to Him and may He be our source of strength and guide for a more effective evangelization in our diocese.

Lastly, we entrust ourselves anew to the maternal care of our Lady, the Immaculate Conception. May her unfailing love never cease.

May God bless you.
Delivered at St Ignatius Cathedral Hwange 7th December 2014

 


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