New Regional Director in Southern Africa Commits to Realization of Plenary Resolutions

Fr. Rafael Baciano Sapato. Credit: IMBISA

The newly appointed Director of the Inter-Regional Meeting of the Bishops of Southern Africa (IMBISA) has told ACI Africa that one of his commitments will be to make the resolutions of the 13th IMBISA plenary assembly a reality.

In the Monday, October 17 interview, Fr. Rafael Baciano Sapato said, “My priority will be to enable what was established in the Plenary Assembly of IMBISA in Windhoek; to make this Plenary commitment a reality; basically, to contribute, to facilitate, to collaborate, to work with the Permanent Council, so that the purpose designed in the Plenary Assembly comes to fruition.”

Fr. Sapato further said that he sees his new appointment as “as an act of obedience,” adding, “I rely on the grace of the Lord and the support of colleagues, in particular the permanent council of IMBISA and the prayer from God's people.”

The 13th IMBISA Plenary Assembly that was held in September in Windhoek, Namibia, under the theme, “Building forward together-Reimagining the Church’s Engagement with young people in the IMBISA Region in light of Pope Francis’ Exhortation, Christus Vivit,” the regional body committed “to journey with the young people, to give them platforms to express their views and to assist them in making structures that give them a more active participatory role in the mission of the Church.”

The IMBISA youth delegates under the leadership of the region’s youth Coordinator, Kelly Muremi from Namibia, “are already working and I am in contact with them,” Fr. Sapato told ACI Africa.


The member of the Clergy of Mozambique’s Lichinga Diocese added, “The youth delegates that attended the Plenary have reached out to the young people from the different Episcopal Conferences.”

“The priority is to collaborate so that the purpose that has been designed for youth ministry comes to fruition. As IMBISA, we will be having a virtual Africa Youth Day Celebration on the first of November 2022, from 1500 to 1700,” he further said.

Fr. Sapato also spoke about preparations for the World Youth Day Lisbon 2023 that are taking place in the Catholic Dioceses of the nine countries of IMBISA, including Angola, Botswana, eSwatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, São Tomé and Príncipe, South Africa, and Zimbabwe.

He said that IMBISA “wants to coordinate the dynamism that is already happening in the dioceses so that the presence of the youth in Lisbon is not only at the level of the conferences, but also in the region, in a spirit of synodality.”

The Mozambican Priest who has previously served as the Coordinator of IMBISA Pastoral Department highlighted “the continuation and consolidation of the theological reflections” of the synodal process as another priority of the regional entity of the Catholic Bishops in Southern Africa.

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“My agenda is to continue what we have started. I joined the IMBISA Secretariat as the Coordinator of the Pastoral Department and I am continuing that in preparation for the Synod on Synodality,” said Fr. Sapato.

He added, “We have started with the virtual theological reflections. We foresee a physical meeting with all the participants in the first days of November.” 

“Presently we are consolidating the theological reflections, as well as the reflections from the Episcopal Conferences of the region, which were sent to the Secretariat,” Fr. Sapato told ACI Africa October 17.

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.