Catholic Bishop in Namibia Says Church “looking forward” to Hosting Regional Plenary

Catholic Bishops follow a presentation during the IMBISA Standing Committee meeting. Credit: IMBISA

The people of God in Namibia are “looking forward” to hosting the Plenary Assembly of the Inter-Regional Meeting of the Bishops of Southern Africa (IMBISA) later this year, a Catholic Bishop in the Southern African country has told ACI Africa in an interview.

In the Thursday, March 24 interview, Bishop Willem Christiaans expressed his excitement about the September forum that is expected to bring together Catholic Church leaders from the nine countries that constitute IMBISA.

“Everybody is excited and looking forward to hosting the plenary,” Bishop Christiaans said, and added, “I'm very, very excited. We have already, on the level of parishes, made known that this very important plenary from our region IMBISA will take place in Namibia.”

The member of the Oblate of St Francis de Sales (O.S.F.S.) highlighted some of the participants expected to be part in the six-day Plenary scheduled to kick off on September 22.

“We will have four Cardinals from the IMBISA region present, 76 Bishops of different dioceses including Auxiliary Bishops, about 18 to 25 young people from the different regions and of course our local young people from the country have also been invited to sit in sessions”, the Namibian Catholic Bishop said.


The Local Ordinary of Namibia’s Keetmanshoop Diocese who spoke to ACI Africa on the sidelines of Standing Committee meeting of IMBISA in Johannesburg, South Africa, said the Plenary Assembly set to take place in the capital city of Namibia, Windhoek, will be guided by one of the “two prominent themes”.

“There are two prominent themes. The first is about the Apostolic letter ‘Christus vivit’ about young people, the role, the future of the church, with our young people; and we feel this is a very important topic to be discussed”, Bishop Christiaans said in reference to Pope Francis’ Post-Synodal Exhortation given on 25 March 2019.

He added, “The second possible theme is about the ‘New Frontiers, new times’ we live in, dealing with a COVID-19 situation and how it has influenced our whole way of doing mission, missionary activities, and how the Church plays its role in evangelization.”

“Hopefully the theme will be on the young people,” the Catholic Bishop said, and added in reference to young people, “Their presence at the IMBISA plenary in September in Windhoek, Namibia will be of utmost importance.”

Archbishop Liborius Ndumbukuti Nashenda (right) of Windhoek Archdiocese and Bishop Willem Christiaans (left) of Namibia’s Keetmanshoop Diocese. Credit: IMBISA

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He went on to acknowledge with appreciation the participation of young people in the ongoing preparations for the Synod on Synodality in Namibia saying, “The participation of young people in the consultation and during the facilitation processes has been very participatory.”

“Young people have come forward to play their role; they know they have a very, very important role to play,” the Catholic Bishop who has been at the helm of Keetmanshoop Diocese since his Episcopal Ordination in May 2018 told ACI Africa March 24.

Asked about some specific initiatives regarding Synodal process, the member of IMBISA Standing Committee said a Diocesan Synodal team of 12 people comprising young people, men, women, and the elderly had been established.

“We are spearheading the process; the team has been working very hard in laying the groundwork, training facilitators and coordinators”, Bishop Christiaans said, and added, “In fact, from the first of April, for a period of two months, in the whole Diocese, the process will go right to the grassroots where consultation will take place in all spheres.”

“Elderly, men, women's groups, absolutely everybody will be consulted, even ecumenical groups and traditional leaders; as the document told us, we need to consult everybody, their view in building a Synodal Church, a Church that listens, that accompanies, that is present”, the 61-year-old Catholic Bishop told ACI Africa March 24.


Sheila Pires is a veteran radio and television Mozambican journalist based in South Africa. She studied communications at the University of South Africa. She is passionate about writing on the works of the Church through Catholic journalism.