, 24 September, 2020 / 7:20 PM
COVID-19 restrictions put the people of God in unfamiliar situations that limited their interactions, a Kenyan Bishop noted at the start of a virtual workshop bringing together mainly members of the Clergy and Religious involved in pastoral animation in Kenya whom the Bishop encouraged to come to terms with the new reality and embrace technology, seeking new ways to “be connected” with others.
“At some point, we all felt hopeless like the flock in the face of a calamity,” Bishop David Kamau said Thursday, September 24 referencing the restrictions due to COVID-19.
“We all have experienced how coronavirus has provided us opportunities and challenges in equal measure. We have found ourselves stretched and challenged to think differently and even somehow disillusioned by recent happenings,” Bishop Kamau said.
Addressing himself to participants in the ongoing workshop that has brought together liaison committee members of the Commission for Clergy and Religious and Pontifical Mission Societies (PMS) Directors in Kenya, the Bishop further said, “We have been pushed to embrace technology and discover new ways that can help us be connected with the people of God.”
“Technology has indeed changed the way we function and we the Church have not been left behind,” Bishop Kamau who Chairs the Commission for Clergy and Religious of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) said at the start of the three-day virtual workshop bringing together dozens of pastoral agents from 25 Kenyan Dioceses under the theme, “Communication for Collaboration.”
Making reference to the virtual gathering that could have seen participants meet face to face were it not for COVID-19 restrictions, the Kenyan Bishop posed, “Who could have thought that one day we would all be seated in our homes, our communities and still connect with one another using technology for such a workshop.”
“Now we know that distance, time and space doesn’t matter once we are determined to accomplish any task,” he said, adding that despite the challenges occasioned by the pandemic, “We are still encouraged to imbue the spirit of sharing, cooperation, and mutual respect.”
He encouraged participants in the workshop to be frank in their deliberations and make known the difficulties they encounter in their respective ministries saying, “I urge you brothers and sisters to discuss openly the challenges we face. Please give your comments and suggestions on how we can work together as agents of evangelization.”
“I hope that we use these days together to share ideas that will benefit the Church in Kenya and the entire world. It will only work if we collaborate; if we work together,” he said September 24.
The Auxiliary Bishop of Kenya’s Nairobi Archdiocese went on to say, “Today more than before, we are called to find innovative and creative ways to evangelize. As agents of evangelization, we will be challenged now and again to look at the way we carry out the mission of Jesus Christ.”
He encouraged the pastoral agents participating in the workshop to seek ways to “harness the gift we have to better proclaim the good news and offer healing to our ailing world” and added, “More than ever before, the Church needs authentic witnesses of the gospel.”
Reflecting on the theme of the workshop, Bishop Kamau highlighted the importance of communication in the Church’s evangelization mission saying, “Each day we endeavor to merit a more collaborative Church. It is our collaboration and mutual respect and sharing that illustrates the Church that celebrates our unity in diversity.”
“Evangelization is the common goal that should unite us. Most importantly, I appeal for your support in our efforts of collaboration in the various areas. This will benefit all of us” the 65-year-old Kenyan Prelate told participants and added, “We are the light of the world. Let your light shine that they may see and believe in the one that sent you.”
On September 24, the first day of the virtual workshop, participants deliberated on the art of communication with Consolata Fr. Daniel Mkado engaging the 100 participants in reflecting and sharing about skills and attitudes that foster cohesion and unity in diversity.
Other reflections planned for September 25 and September 26 include "navigating the media for networking and evangelization" and challenges and opportunity in "gender, culture and communication" respectively.
In a message sent to ACI Africa, the National Executive Secretary of the Commission for Clergy and Religious of KCCB, Sr. Joan Mukhwana who is spearheading the workshop said that the three-day online event is an opportune moment to “have conversations on how we can work together for the sake of the mission of Christ.”
“It is an opportunity for future plans. We do hope to have some concrete actions we can take especially on how to network better,” Sr. Joan, a member of the School Sisters of Notre Dame (SSND) told ACI Africa, adding that more workshops for the Clergy and Religious to deliberate on their collaboration for evangelization were being planned for October.
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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