, 19 November, 2019 / 1:53 AM
The just concluded 12th Plenary Assembly of the Bishops within the Southern Africa region under the Interregional Meeting of Bishops of Southern Africa (IMBISA) continued the reviewing of the five-year strategic plan developed in 2016 as “Coordinated Leadership Plan 2016 – 2021” in view of improving it, with deliberations done by each of the six conferences of the nine-member regional entity handed over to the new Standing Committee elected during the five-day meeting.
“On the second day of the 12th IMBISA plenary session, Bishops worked at “Conference” level groups to improve the “coordinated leadership Plan 2016-2021,” reads in part a statement sent to ACI Africa Sunday, November 17.
Developed in 2016 by the leadership of IMBISA “together with the presidents of the bishops' conferences who once a year came together for this purpose,” the strategic plan is one of the indicators of the relevance of regional conference as being “at the service of each episcopal conference,” according to the statement shared with ACI Africa.
Six focus areas characterize the five-year plan of action. It emphasizes “Christian and spiritual formation at all levels,” including the clergy, religious men and women as well as the lay faith.
The plan promotes the realization of the teachings contained in Pope Francis’ Laudato Si, ensuring that the Encyclical “is a living document.”
The strategic plan pushes the agenda of identifying and coordinating, within the region of IMBISA, “a pool of resource persons to address needs.”
Implementing systems that enhance coordinated leadership within the six conferences that constitute IMBISA and the developing of “a sense of ownership of IMBISA and solidarity among the members” are also part of the five-year strategic plan.
The plan also seeks to “ensure financial sustainability” within IMBISA.
All the six areas of focus were deliberated upon by the representatives of each of the six conferences of IMBISA, and as the statement shared with ACI Africa reads, “the contributions presented by each group will be studied by the new standing committee elected at the end of that day.”
Bishop Lucio Andrice Muandula of Xai-Xai diocese, Mozambique will continue to be IMBISA’s President.
The Assembly elected Archbishop Liborius Ndumbukuti Nashenda of Namibia’s Windhoek Archdiocese, a member of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate (OMI) vice president.
Archbishop Robert Christopher Ndlovu of Harare, Zimbabwe was re-elected secretary general.
Fr. Dumisani Vilakati of Manzini, Eswatini will succeed Fr Dos Reis, a clergy of Maputo, Mozambique as IMBISA Director effective 2020.
The Maputo Plenary expressed appreciation for Mozambican Fr Dos Reis “who has been at the service of IMBISA for many years including being the director since 2015.”
Besides the executive team, “there are also six other Bishops representing each episcopal conference,” and “one more Bishop to help strengthening the communications' department,” reads in part the statement availed to ACI Africa.
Based in Zimbabwe’s capital, Harare, IMBISA comprises the Episcopal conferences of Angola, Mozambique, Lesotho, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Sao Tome and Principe and the Southern African Bishops’ Conference (Botswana, Eswatini, South Africa).
The closing Mass of IMBISA’s 12th Plenary Assembly “took place in Maputo with a vibrant presence of laity, religious and priests,” the statement shared with ACI Africa reads and continues, “The president of the Republic of Mozambique, Filipe Nyusi and other members of government were also present.”
“The spirit of the celebration gave bishops a taste of what was Pope Francis' visit to Mozambique last September,” the statement concludes.
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