Stop Working in Silos, Archbishop in South Africa Urges Pastoral Agents

Newly Established Pretoria Archdiocesan Commission for Caritas, Migrants and Refugees. Credit: ACI Africa

The Catholic Archbishop at South Africa’s Pretoria Archdiocese has urged pastoral agents in his Metropolitan See to stop working in silos, and instead operate in “a coordinated manner” to optimally reach out to the needy.

In his July 23 remarks to members of the newly established Archdiocesan Commission for Caritas, Migrants and Refugees, Archbishop Dabula Anthony Mpako explained that the South African Archdiocese needs to have a common vision and a coordinated plan of pastoral action to better meet the needs of the people.

“There are sodalities and charity bodies that have been doing charity works in the Archdiocese, however, we are operating in silos. We need to shift our approach and focus. These bodies are part of the local Church and must operate in a coordinated manner”, Archbishop Mpako said.

He added, “The work of charity represented by the word Caritas is an integral part of the mission of the church, which is an important part of what the church is about. Carrying out works of charity, reaching out to those in need, especially to those most vulnerable, to help develop them, meet their needs in a holistic manner.”

The first Vice President of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC) highlighted Caritas as an important “integral development of the mission of the Church”, adding, “It is therefore an important and integral part of what we as the local Church of the Archdiocese of Pretoria ought to be about.”


The Catholic Church leader who has been at the helm of Pretoria Archdiocese since June 2019 went on to say, “as the Chief Shepherd of this Archdiocese, it is part of my responsibility to ensure that in this local Church entrusted to me at this time, this ministry is carried out.”

He continued, “Part of the oath of fidelity that a Bishop takes…is to take care of the poor and the needy.”

Credit: ACI Africa

Archbishop Mpako who serves as the Military Ordinariate of the South African (National) Defence Force said he “specifically handpicked people from the decision-making committees” of the existing sodalities to be members of the Archdiocesan Commission for Caritas, Migrants and Refugees.

“And now because I cannot do that alone, I gather around me people who are going to assist me in carrying out that ministry in this Archdiocese”, he said, and added, “So I targeted people to come and join me. And those people are here today. I am establishing you as the Commission for Caritas and Migrants and Refugees in this Archdiocese.”

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The 62-year-old South African Archbishop who started his Episcopal Ministry in South Africa’s Diocese of Queenstown said that to optimally meet the needs of the poor and vulnerable, the existing sodalities and charity bodies should work together under Caritas so that “together we establish what the needs are in our local Church.”

“Together we must plan and strategize how best to meet those needs as we reach out to the needy through the service of charity. Together we must evaluate so that we can increasingly come to do it in a more efficient and effective way,” he said.

In an interview with ACI Africa, Archbishop Mpako said the South African Archdiocese was anxious to establish the Archdiocesan Commission for Caritas, Migrants, and Refugees as “there is a significant concentration of migrants and refugees around Pretoria.”

He continued during the July 23 interview, “There are migrants and refugees that need assistance with basic needs such as food, clothing… and some need assistance with regularizing their stay; they may need assistance in applying for refugee status or for whatever permit they may need.”

“But first we have to establish offices in our city Parishes where we can begin to invite migrants and refugees to come and report and be registered, and to listen to them, to know what their needs are, and also to begin to see how we can engage to respond to their needs accordingly,” the Archbishop of Pretoria told ACI Africa.


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.