SECAM Unveils Groups to Participate in Planned Plenary Assembly in Ethiopia

Fr. Rafael Simbine Junior, the Secretary General of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa & Madagascar (SECAM) on the right, and Fr. Andrew Kaufa, the Communications Director of the Association of Member Episcopal Conferences in Eastern Africa (AMECEA) at a media briefing with Catholic journalists in Nairobi. Credit: ACI Africa

The Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa & Madagascar (SECAM) has identified groups that will be representing the entire Church on the continent in the Plenary Assembly that has been scheduled to take place during the first week of March in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Addressing members of the press at the end of the initiative’s three-day working session that started on January 23, the Secretary General of SECAM who was moderating the session said that selection of participants in the Assembly was one of the main objectives of the session that was held in Nairobi, Kenya.

Participants at the session sought reassurance that delegates to the African Continental Synodal Assembly would be as representative as possible, Fr. Rafael Simbine Junior said during the Tuesday, January 25 media briefing.

“Participants wanted to be sure that the delegates to the African Continental Synodal Assembly represent all of Africa, the Islands and all the African realities,” the Mozambican Catholic Priest said, and added, “The desire for the representation of all was satisfied.”

About 200 persons are expected to participate in the Plenary Assembly, including 108 lay people.


Lay people participating in the Assembly will be represented by 44 adults, 36 young people, five Novices, and five Seminarians.

Others will be 32 Priests, 10 women Religious, six men Religious, as well as 13 Bishops and 10 Cardinals.

Technical personnel will be represented by four members of the ASI and 11 journalists from Catholic media and communications agencies.

There will also be four delegates from other faith groups represented by a Muslim from Algeria, a traditional healer from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), a Presbyterian from Ghana, and a Copt from Ethiopia.

Fr. Simbine said that ASI, which has been facilitating the engagement in the Synod on Synodality, had also discussed and approved the envisioned Assembly’s program, signaling advanced stages in the preparation for the event.

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The January 23-25 SECAM second working session in Nairobi follows the first working session, which took place from December 6 - 9 last year in Ghana’s capital city, Accra.

The Accra session brought together experts who gathered “to pray, listen and discern” on the document guiding the continental phase of the Synodal process, which Pope Francis extended to 2024.

In the Accra session, modalities were defined to guide the January 2023 session and the March 2023 Plenary Assembly in Addis Ababa.

One of the objectives of the just-ended working session in Nairobi has been to present and listen to the results of the spiritual conversation conducted by participants in the first session in Accra. 

The session was also organized to reflect on the Document for the Continental Stage (DCS),which was sent to the Universal Church by the General Secretariat of the Synod in October 2022.


Members of the African Team on Synodality also met to rework the African Synodal Document in order to enrich it with the new elements collected. 

Their other objective was to receive an update from the Catholic Bishops’ Conferences in Africa on the current situation of the regional delegates to the Continental Assembly.

Fr. Simbine highlighted the challenges encountered in the synodal conversations, saying, “Some difficulties were noted especially in understanding the synod process and how to use the method of spiritual conversation. However, as time passes, especially after this second session, some improvements are visible.”

Participants at the working session also presented the draft of the African Synod Document, which they said is “still work in progress.”

Fr. Simbine who has been moderating the African Team on Synodality underscored the need for participants in the continental Synodal conversations “to deepen ever more the understanding of the Synodal process.”

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This, he noted, they could do by reading and reflecting on the DCS and appreciating all the issues raised in the document from the African context, and applying the Spiritual Conversation Method, which focuses on the quality of one’s capacity to listen as well as the quality of the words spoken.

“All the participants shall return home with the mission of preparing the delegates for the Continental Synodal Plenary Assembly in Addis Ababa, in order to go there already familiar with the Document of the Continental Stage and the use of the Spiritual Conversation Method,” he said.

The member of Clergy of Mozambique’s Xai-Xai Diocese lauded the Catholic media for ensuring that all the people of God are aware of what is happening during the continental process of the Synod on Synodality.

This story was updated with corrections on 30 January 2023. Some of the notable corrections from the original version published on 25 January 2023 include: “African Synodality Initiative (ASI)” replaced with the “Symposium of Episcopal of Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM)”; “African Plenary Assembly” replaced with “African Continental Synodal Assembly”; “members of ASI” replaced with “members of African Team on Synodality”; and “regional secretaries of the Synodality initiative” replaced with “Catholic Bishops’ Conferences in Africa”.

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.