Use Family as Domestic Church to Exercise “baptismal priesthood”: SECAM Official

SECAM's Kampala Document presented Thursday, 21 January 2021. Credit: SECAM

An official of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) has urged Christians on the second largest continent to lead prayers in their respective families as a way of exercising the priestly authority received at their baptism.

In an interview with ACI Africa on the sidelines of the Congress on family as domestic church held in Nairobi, the First Deputy Secretary General of SECAM said that a baptized person is a priest at home and should participate in prayers together with family members.

Fr. Rafaeli Simbini Junior said that the four-day congress that started on Tuesday, May 9 was motivated by the Kampala Document (KD), the 100-page publication that resulted from the discussions, which SECAM members had at the conclusion of the year-long Golden Jubilee celebrations of their Symposium (July 2018 to July 2019), held in in Uganda’s Archdiocese of Kampala.

“The baptism that we received made us priests, so every baptized person is a priest at home. We exercise our priesthood, our baptismal priesthood by speaking with God, by praying together as a family,” Fr. Simbini said during the Wednesday, May 11 interview.

The Mozambican-born Catholic Priest who coordinates the Evangelization Commission of SECAM from its headquarters in Accra, Ghana, said that for the family to merit as a domestic church, then what is happening at the church should happen at home.


He challenged family members to embrace a life of prayer. He said, “Some families have not created that time to pray at home; they don’t even pray before eating. Some don’t even thank God for the end of the day or for the night ahead.”

“Families gather around television to watch news but cannot gather for prayers; they gather to watch movies, or shows but they don’t do the same to pray,” Fr. Simbini told ACI Africa on the sidelines of the Congress on family as domestic church that had representatives from five of the eight regional Catholic Bishops’ Conferences that are members of SECAM. 

The five regional conferences included the Inter-Regional Meeting of the Bishops of Southern Africa (IMBISA), the Association of Member Episcopal Conferences in Eastern Africa (AMECEA), the Regional Episcopal Conference of West Africa (RECOWA), the Association of Episcopal Conferences of Central Africa (ACEAC), and the Association of Episcopal Conferences of Central Africa Region (ACERAC).

Making reference to the initial years of Christianity, Fr. Simbini said that there were no churches and that people used to meet in homes and to pray together. He said that the freedom of worship granted later turned everything upside down.

The member of the Clergy of Mozambique’s Xai Xai Diocese said that prayers at home do not mean getting rid of Eucharist Celebration at the level of the Parish, and emphasized the need to balance between the two.

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“We are trying to make some balance; we do not want to kill the Parish, because it starts at home. The Parish denotes togetherness of families and we have to call them Christian families because they are in communion with God,” he said.

Fr. Simbini added that Parishes and Dioceses can only be strong if families are fortified with members who pray together. He said that being strong at the church and weak at home or vice versa denotes incompleteness as far as faith is concerned.

The Catholic Priest highlighted some common situations in the society where those who do not take part in Holy Mass dislike those who do, saying that such cases exist because those who go to church fail to show good examples even in their own families.

In the May 11 interview, the First Deputy Secretary General of SECAM said that a family that prays together embraces peace and in the event of misunderstanding, the members negotiate and forgive each other without necessarily calling an outsider to arbitrate.

“In a Christian family, we find prayer and people who pray together are able to forgive, to build peace and to give peace,” Fr. Simbini told ACI Africa, and added, “We find light at the church but at home, we are in darkness. Prayer in family invites God; there is love, forgiveness, justice and peace.”


He said that families that pray together boost vocations and that priesthood among other vocations comes from Christian homes with Christian virtues.

Fr. Simbini said that those who have attended the congress will be expected to be witnesses and to share the knowledge with their colleagues in their Parishes.

“This congress is meant to transform those who have attended as witnesses and apostles of transforming families as domestic churches,” he said.

The Mozambican Catholic Priest explained, “We are trying to prepare them so that after going back home, they try to help by first transforming their own family into a domestic church and to help their brothers and sisters in their Parishes to do the same.”

“We will give them the material that we are preparing here to help them in their work. What we are doing here, we will send to regions like AMECEA, IMBISA and they will do the same with their members,” Fr. Simbini told ACI Africa during the May 11 interview in Nairobi.

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Making reference to KD, he said that the document is divided into two parts. He said that the first part seeks to analyze the events in the last 50 years while the second part seeks to look at what could be done in the next 50 years.

He said that the bottom-line of the document is to transform the African church into the family of God and to transform the church in Africa into the image of family.

“In this document, the Bishops came to the conclusion that, if our Christian family is a non-domestic church, then we will struggle to transform the whole of Africa as a family,” Fr. Simbini said, and added, “To do that, we need to start at the grassroots, which is the Christian family.”

He said that the year 2021 was used to create awareness of the document among the member regions through workshops and seminars. Fr. Simbini added that it is through the meetings that it was decided that the urgent thing to start with is the family.

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.