Catholic Bishops in Southern Africa Urged to Endeavor to “advance” Evangelization Mission

Archbishop Dabula Anthony Mpako. Credit: SACBC

Members of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC) gathering for their Plenary Assembly at St. John Vianney National Major Seminary in the Archdiocese of Pretoria in South Africa have been urged to endeavor to “advance the mission of evangelization” in their deliberations.

In his homily during the opening Mass of the SACBC Plenary Assembly on Tuesday, January 17, Archbishop Dabula Mpako reflected on the Patron Saint of the day, St. Anthony of Egypt, and underlined the need to emulate the St. Anthony’s spirit of detachment and zeal for evangelization.

“I recommend that we keep this in mind throughout our discussions and deliberations in this plenary session by constantly asking ourselves how the discussions we engage in, and the decisions we take relate to and advance the mission of evangelization; St. Anthony reminds us of that,” Archbishop Mpako said.

The Local Ordinary of Pretoria Archdiocese added, “St. Anthony reminds us that our most fundamental mission and ministry as leaders in the Church is that of evangelization.”

He said that the ultimate goal of evangelization is to create a situation that will give God His rightful place in people’s lives by being fully available as God’s instruments.


The South African Catholic Archbishop warned members of the Clergy about “many temptations” that may steer them off their calling. 

“The example of St. Anthony reminds us how, in responding to the gospel imperative to put God first at the center of our lives and ministry, we too have to overcome many temptations that try to entice us away from our calling," he said.

He added, “There are many temptations facing us Bishops, Priests or ordained ministers in the Church which have the potential of destructing us from our fundamental mission of being agents of evangelization.”

The South African Catholic Church leader echoed the words of Pope Francis in his address to the Roman Curia in December 2014, saying, “Some of these temptations are diseases, and I suggest Bishops’ diseases, Priests’ diseases, diseases of all of us; malfunctioning, infirmity.”

He said that the temptations, which Pope Francis described as “diseases” are “things that we need to constantly stave off as we try to be faithful to our primary calling to be agents of evangelization.”

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The 63-year-old Archbishop who started his Episcopal Ministry in August 2011 as Bishop of South Africa’s Queenstown Diocese said that temptation to shun including that of putting “ourselves at the center and feel and act as if we are indispensable” as well as that of “drawing attention to ourselves”.

“We can’t forget that we are just laborers in the Lord's vineyard; we can’t forget that the Church will outlive us and will continue to operate even after we are gone,” he said.

Archbishop Mpako also advised SACBC members to avoid the temptation of being excessively busy saying such a lifestyle has the potential of taking their attention away from the important action of “sitting at the feet of Jesus”. 

"We amass ourselves in work and excessive planning neglecting the better part of sitting at the feet of Jesus," he said.

The Catholic Church leader who has been at the helm of Pretoria Archdiocese since June 2019 added that excessive planning “denies us the guidance of the holy spirit”.


Reflecting on materialism, he also noted that the vice poses a threat to the evangelization mission, which he said is seen “when we try to feel a non-existential voice in our hearts by accumulating material goods, not out of need but in order to feel secure.”

Archbishop Mpako said that the “temptation to seek fame and popularity, true forms of self-exhibition” turn our service into power in order to gain worldly profit or even greater power.”

He likened the highlighted temptations to the “demons” that St. Anthony faced in his life.

The Catholic Archbishop said, “St. Anthony reminds us that in carrying out our ministry of evangelization we need to be always alert, always vigilant and not fall into the many pitfalls which are always around us, those demons that tempt us to deviate from our primary calling.”

He continued in his homily during the opening Holy Mass of the SACBC Plenary Assembly, “May we continue in this plenary session to identify and to clearly name the many and various contemporary demons that face us and the people entrusted to our pastoral care at this time.”

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“May we continue to creatively and innovatively devise suitable and effective ways of combating these demons after the example of St. Anthony,” Archbishop Mpako said during the January 17 Eucharistic celebration.

Silas Mwale Isenjia is a Kenyan journalist with a great zeal and interest for Catholic Church related communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communication from Moi University in Kenya. Silas has vast experience in the Media production industry. He currently works as a Journalist for ACI Africa.