, 14 July, 2020 / 11:09 PM
The first Sunday of next month, August 2, is meant to be important for the people of God in Africa because the Catholic Bishops on the continent are expected to preside over the day of their common forum, the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM).
SECAM Day commemorates the official launch of the Symposium of Catholic Bishops in Africa in July 1969 by Pope Paul VI in Uganda’s capital, Kampala. This was the first visit of a Pope to Africa in modern times.
The SECAM day is an important event for the Church in Africa because it offers an opportunity for the faithful on the continent to contribute toward sustaining the activities of the common forum of Catholic Bishops on the continent.
In a letter addressed to the Secretaries General of the eight regional Conferences of Catholic Bishops in Africa, the leadership of SECAM highlights the importance of the event, inviting Christians to support the initiative.
“Normally, 29th July of every year is SECAM Day. When 29th July falls on a weekday, SECAM Day is celebrated on the following Sunday, and the collection is taken for the purpose. This year, it is expected to be held on August 2, 2020,” the Secretary General of SECAM, Fr. Terwase Henry Akaabiam stated in the July 11 letter.
Established in July 2013, during the 16th Plenary Assembly of SECAM, the day is also important because it provides an opportunity for all members of the Family of God in Africa and the surrounding Islands to pray for and identify with SECAM.
In a 2015 letter addressed to the Bishops’ Conferences in Africa, the then Treasurer of SECAM, Archbishop Charles Palmer-Buckle appealed for contributions from Church members in Africa through the initiative dubbed “SECAM Day Collections.”
“In view of our resolve to strive for self-reliance all our Conferences have been asked to kindly take a special collection in all Churches in Africa on a Sunday close to July 29, or any day that is convenient to them before the end of this year,” Archbishop Palmer-Buckle stated referencing the year 2015.
The then Archbishop of Ghana’s Accra Archdiocese where SECAM is headquartered highlighted the “financial challenges” SECAM was experiencing saying, “In the light of this, in my capacity as the Treasurer, I am making a passionate appeal to you, my dear brothers in the episcopate, to use your good offices to get all dioceses and parishes in your Conference to take a special collection on a Sunday close to July 29, 2015 or any day that is convenient to you in 2015.”
Among the areas to be supported by the collections include evangelization, justice and peace, social communications and the administration of SECAM standing committee meetings and plenary assemblies, Archbishop Palmer-Buckler expalained.
In the July 11 letter, the leadership of SECAM acknowledges the hard times brought by the COVID-19 pandemic and directed that prayers “be said for SECAM on 29th and 2nd August 2020 respectively but the collection deferred.”
“Nevertheless, a person or people who may be moved to support SECAM financially or materially should be allowed to do so,” SECAM Secretary General states.
Meanwhile, speaking about the significance of celebrating SECAM Day, the Secretary General of the Association of Member Episcopal Conferences in Eastern Africa (AMECEA), one of the eight Regional Conferences that form SECAM, Fr. Anthony Makunde said, “It is a day to pray for the prosperity of the Symposium, for the togetherness and solidarity of the Conferences of the Bishops in Africa and the islands; more especially to create awareness among the Catholic faithful about the existence of SECAM and its role.”
“The collection, which is done on the occasion is normally to support the work and the mission of SECAM. It is a symbol of ownership of every Catholic in Africa and the islands that SECAM is our association here in Africa and Madagascar,” Fr. Anthony told AMECEA Online News.
SECAM is a fruit of African Bishops in the course of the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965). They expressed the wish to have a common forum that would facilitate the bringing together of their respective voices on matters of the Church in Africa, bringing the African vision to the universal Church.
ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.
Father Don Bosco Onyalla
Editor-in-Chief, ACI Africa