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Be Bearers of “light of hope” amid COVID-19, Zambian Bishops to Consecrated Persons

Dominican Contemplative Nuns in Zambia.

Catholic Bishops in Zambia have encouraged consecrated persons in the Southern African country to strive to be beacons of hope amid COVID-19-related challenges.

In their message issued on the occasion of the 25th World Day for Consecrated Life Tuesday, February 2, the Bishops also encourage Religious men and women and members of the Clergy who “constitute a significant section of frontline workers who are witnessing daily the harsh reality of this pandemic” to observe COVID-19 health guidelines. 

“I salute you, on behalf of other Bishops, and cheer you on to continue bearing the light of hope in Christ even in such desperate situations,” members of the Zambia Conference of Catholic Bishops (ZCCB) say in the statement signed by Bishop Patrick Chisanga, the Director for the Commission for Consecrated.

They add, “Though this year’s celebration of the Day of Consecrated Life is clouded with the general sombre mood in our country and the world at large, may you be bearers of the light of hope, which is Jesus Christ to one another and to the people you minister to.”

There is an urgent need to “protect and preserve the indispensability and warmth of human relationships that are under serious threat in the current circumstances,” ZCCB members say, making reference to social and physical distancing as one of the recommended COVID-19 preventive measures.

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“The latest Encyclical of Pope Francis, Fratelli Tutti, is a timely and necessary tool for every religious on the mission of restoring and celebrating human fraternity,” they say in the Bishop Chisanga-signed communiqué.

Zambia has recorded at least 56,233 cases of the coronavirus including 794 deaths and 49,696 recoveries. 

Cognizant of the fact that some consecrated persons have been infected by COVID-19 and others have succumbed to the disease, ZCCB members pray for Christ’s healing touch on those who are ill and the peaceful repose of those who have succumbed to the virus. 

Last month, the Church in Zambia laid to rest three members of the Clergy who had succumbed to COVID-19-related complications. They include Bishop Moses Hamungole of the country’s Monze Diocese, Jesuit Fr. Charles Chilinda, and Fr. Patrick Muyenga, a Capuchin Friar. 

In their February 2 message, ZCCB members exhort consecrated persons in the country to adhere to COVID-19 health protocols and conduct frequent COVID-19 tests, reiterating their January 28 message, in which they also called on the people of God in the Southern African nation to stand together in the fight against COVID-19 amid an increase in reported cases. 

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“Such calls cannot be over-emphasized, especially for you, religious men and women, given the nature of your pastoral and professional apostolates that render you to be quite vulnerable to contracting the virus,” the Bishops in Zambia say in their February 2 message.