A section of ACWECA members who participated in the Eucharistic celebration to mark the start of the 18th Plenary Assembly hosted by AOSK on 23 August 2021. Credit: ACWECA
She added, “Secondly, we need to look back in our past with gratitude as Pope Francis told us in our year of consecrated life, to be able to embrace the present with passion, doing all we can to protect ourselves and to protect others and also to anticipate the future with great hope; and be people who give hope to the world that is very anxious about COVID-19.”
The ACWECA President further called on the Sisters in the 10-member Association to be their sisters’ keepers and to continue reaching out with compassion to one another and to the people of God.
“Knowing that this is the year of St. Joseph, we should pray to him that he may help us and pray for us that this COVID-19 that has devastated the world may come to the end,” Sr. Njeri said.
ACWECA brings together a Council of delegates from 10 National Association of Sisterhoods from the English-speaking countries of Eastern and Central Africa, including Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Sudan, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, the latter an associate member.
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Since its inception in 1974, ACWECA has held 17 Plenary Assemblies. This year, the regional Association of Catholic Sisters is holding its 18th Plenary Assembly, a virtual event being hosted by AOSK.
Sr. Njeri has confirmed that the Prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, Joáo Cardinal Braz de Aviz, will give the keynote address at the Plenary Assembly.
The Cardinal’s address, Sr. Njeri says, will help to re-awaken the prophetic role of consecrated women in the ACWECA region.
This year’s Plenary Assembly, which runs from August 23 to 28 has drawn participants from all the member countries, observers, donors, partners and members of Religious Orders of Sisters from outside the ACWECA region.
The Association of Member Episcopal Conferences in Eastern Africa (AMECEA) has estimated that over one hundred ninety-eight (198) delegates will attend the 18th Plenary Assembly, and key among these is the Council of delegates who have voting powers. This delegation is comprised of Superiors General, country delegates, Provincial Superiors and Regional Superiors.
Postulants and Novices of Dimesse Sisters who animated the Eucharistic celebration that marked the start of ACWECA's 18th Plenary Assembly hosted by AOSK on 23 August 2021. Credit: ACWECA
Also expected at the Plenary Assembly are a team of observers representing the International Union of Superiors Generals, Religious women from outside the ACWECA region and partners.
The Plenary Assembly is bringing together representatives of the over 30,000 Religious women serving in the Eastern and Central African region and other invited guests, according to AMECEA Online News.
Fr. Andrew Kaufa, the Social Communications Coordinator of AMECEA, has lauded the leadership of ACWECA for the “courage” in proceeding with the Plenary Assembly, the COVID-19 challenges notwithstanding.
Fr. Andrew Kaufa in an interview session with Fr. Vincent Shumila of Capuchin TV with a section of ACWECA leadership on 23 August 2021. Credit: AMECEA
“It took courage to organize such an important plenary online. I am aware that last year they had postponed the assembly but this year they decided to proceed and that is quite courageous and they set a good example not only to other sisters in the region but also to Bishops conferences that have been postponing meetings because of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Fr. Kaufa said.
The theme for the 18th ACWECA Plenary Assembly is, “Re-awaken the Prophetic Role: A call for Reformation towards Holistic Transformation in the ACWECA region today.”
The theme, Fr. Kaufa says, is in line with what Pope Francis advocates for concerning consecrated life.
“The theme focuses on a prophetic role that Sisters in the AMECEA region ought to play. This has been a very important role that even Pope Francis has been emphasizing, including when he met the Religious Superiors in Rome in 2013,” the AMECEA Social Communications Coordinator said in an interview on August 23.
He added, “Pope Francis’ passion is to see Religious congregations standing out as a prophetic voice in this world, which is characterized by secularism and sometimes people don’t see the meaning of religious life at all. And for him (Pope Francis) it is not so much what we do, the way we live at the level of the being. I think this is how I understand Pope Francis.”
“For the Sisters to choose this topic and say can we sit down for five good days and discuss how we can play this prophetic role in the Eastern and Central African region, I think we need to pray for them and wish them all success because this is in line with what Pope Francis is looking for,” Fr. Kaufa said.
Agnes Aineah is a Kenyan journalist with a background in digital and newspaper reporting. She holds a Master of Arts in Digital Journalism from the Aga Khan University, Graduate School of Media and Communications and a Bachelor's Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communications from Kenya's Moi University. Agnes currently serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.