African Palaver Series is “a call to action” on Synod on Synodality: Kenyan Nun

Sr. Leonida Katunge poses for a photo during the 2023 world youth day celebrations in Lisbon, Portugal. Credit: Sr. Leonida Katunge

African theologians, priests, religious, and laity have embarked on a series of synodal conversations, describing their encounter ahead of the October session in Rome as a call to action for all the people of God in Africa to make their voices heard in the Synod on Synodality.

Dubbed “an African palaver series on the future of the Church in Africa”, the initiative that is set to run from June 7 to September 6 has been organized by the Pan-African Catholic Theology and Pastoral Network (PACTPAN) in collaboration with the Conference of Major Superiors of Africa and Madagascar (COMSAM).

In her welcome address at the first virtual session of the series on Friday, June 7, Sr. Leonida Katunge, the Assistant Coordinating Servant of PACTPAN said the conversations are “a call to action now and not tomorrow as we embark on this African palaver series.”

The Kenyan Catholic Sister urged the participants of the series to engage “wholeheartedly, speak boldly, and listen attentively” during all the sessions, adding, “Let us approach our deliberations with humility and openness to the promptings of the Holy Spirit.”

Sr. Katunge underlined the need for the participants to embrace the synodal journey with faith and hope, trusting in the guidance of the Holy Spirit.


“May our discussions culminate in concrete actions that rejuvenate and galvanize the Church in Africa, transforming it into a more inclusive, compassionate, and mission-driven community of faith,” she said.

The member of the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Catholic Archdiocese of Mombasa in Kenya (SSJ Mombasa) explained that the term “palaver” in some African societies embodies the African spirit of community which denotes coming together in dialogue to seek understanding and to discern God’s will.

“This series transcends mere discussions. It aspires to weave our diverse voices and experiences into a tapestry of faith and hope for the Church in Africa,” she said, and reminded the participants that synodality lies at the core of their discussions.

Sr. Katunge said that Synodality “beckons us to journey side by side, listening attentively to one another, and discerning the voice of the Holy Spirit among us.”

This synodal process, Sr. Katunge said, “invites us to reimagine and renew our ecclesial structures, ensuring they resonate with the rich cultural diversity and spiritual vitality of our continent.”

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The PACTPAN official reminded the participants of the need to “prioritize inclusivity and diversity” due to the continent’s “mosaic of cultures, languages, and traditions, which she said “enriches our faith and beckons us to embrace inclusivity.”

“As we convene here, let us pledge to ensure that every voice is heard, especially those on the periphery—women, youth, the marginalized, and the poor,” she said, adding that the experiences and insights of the marginalized are invaluable.

Sr. Katunge said that the role of women and youth needs to be recognized in the Church.

“I recognize the indispensable role women play in the life of the Church. Our contributions, often unseen yet profound, must be acknowledged and empowered,” said the Kenyan Nun who coordinates the African Digital Youth Influencers under PACTPAN.

She added, “Our youth, with their vigor, enthusiasm, and hunger for justice, are not just the future but active participants in the present life of the Church.”


“Let us fully engage them (women and the youth) in this synodal journey, listening to their aspirations for a Church that authentically reflects God’s kingdom on earth,” she said.

During the synodal discussion, Sr. Katunge urged the participants to also deliberate on the matters of justice and peace in Africa. She said, “In Africa, the Church stands as a beacon of hope in a world marred by division and injustice even at times based on religion.”

“Our synodal journey must reaffirm our commitment to advancing justice, peace, and reconciliation,” she said, adding, “We are called to be catalysts of transformation in our societies, tirelessly advocating for the dignity and rights of all God’s children.”

More than 250 theologians, priests, and religious, as well as laity, took part in the June 7 conversation that was enriched by African proverbs.

The participants explored the topic “Listening to the Voices of the Poor and God’s People in Africa”.

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Speakers responded to questions after a prayer that was led by  Fridolin Cardinal Ambongo, the President of the Symposium of the Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM).

In his welcoming address, Fr. Stan alluded to the saying, “As long as lions don't have their historian, tales of the hunt will always glorify the hunter” and encouraged participants in the conversation to be vocal about the realities of Africa.

Silas Mwale Isenjia is a Kenyan journalist with a great zeal and interest for Catholic Church related communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communication from Moi University in Kenya. Silas has vast experience in the Media production industry. He currently works as a Journalist for ACI Africa.