African Pre-Synodal Seminar Lauded as “opportunity to set priorities” ahead of Rome Synod

Delegates representing Africa in the October Synod on Synodality during their preparatory seminar in Nairobi, Kenya. Credit: ACI Africa

Delegates representing Africa in the October Synod on Synodality assembly in Rome have concluded their preparatory seminar in Nairobi Kenya, describing it as timely, and an opportunity to focus on what they will be presenting at the assembly.

The August 15-18 meeting was organized to get over the 50 participants in the synod in Rome to know each other, and to recap fruits from the Continental Synodal Assembly that was held in March this year in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The delegates also met to share their expectations for the upcoming Synodal Assembly.

Speaking to ACI Africa on the sidelines of the seminar, Fr. Vitalis Chinedu Anaehobi, the Secretary General for the Reunion of Episcopal Conferences of West Africa (RECOWA) said that the meeting had also helped participants “to focus on priorities for Africa.”

“These are the priorities that we are going to share with the world,” Fr. Anaehobi said in the Thursday, August 17 interview with ACI Africa.

He added, “We are going there give to others what we have, to listen to them, and to see what we can take from them so as to grow as a Church in Africa.”


The Nigerian Catholic Priest said that the seminar had been an opportunity for the delegates to brainstorm on the issues particular to the Church in Africa and to prepare together for the meeting in Rome.

“It is the first time that all participants in Africa are coming together. It is an opportunity to know each other. And now, the meeting in Rome won’t be our first,” he said. 

Archbishop Andrew Nkea Fuanya of Cameroon’s Archdiocese of Bamenda reiterated the Catholic Priest’s sentiments, noting that the seminar which was organized by the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) in partnership with the African Synodality Initiative (ASI) was an opportunity for the delegates coming from the same continent to share ideas, and to reflect on the African document produced in Addis Ababa.

“Some of the official delegates to Rome were not in Addis Ababa and therefore, them being here has given them the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the document,” he said.

He lauded the seminar which had allowed participants to familiarize themselves with the methodology of Spiritual Conversation which shall be used at the gathering in Rome, saying, “We have had a practical application of the spiritual conversation as a method of discernment which is a very important step in this synod. We are all very happy because we have done it as a group that is going to Rome.” 

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Bishop Anthony Fallah Borwah of the Catholic Diocese of Banga in Liberia thanked organizers of the two-day seminar, noting that it had been an easy way to familiarize himself with the the continental working document of the Synod on Synodality.

“We Bishops are very busy people. Sometimes we get documents to read but keep piling them up without opening them. Having a platform like this when a document is explained and analyzed is a blessing to many of us,” Bishop Borwah said.

The Bishop of Banga shared with ACI Africa that the Synod on Synodality conversations had been relevant for the Church in Liberia given the country’s past history of civil war.

“We had very bad 15 years of war and people are still hurting,” he spoke of the country’s civil war that ended in 2003 after claiming over 200, 000 people and displacing millions of others.

“The war is over but the wounds are still fresh for so many people,” Bishop Borwah said, and added, “With this synod journey, people have had the opportunity to speak out about what is hurting them, including their traumatic experiences.” 


He lauded the Synod on Synodality, saying, “Usually in the Catholic Church, lay people don’t have much time to talk to their Bishops and priests. The Synod on Synodality has been an opportunity for the people to not only speak, but to be on the forefront of many conversations. It has also been an opportunity for us Priests and Bishops to examine ourselves.”

Dr. Nora Nonterah who is one of the two lay people representing Africa in Rome reiterated Bishop Borwah’s sentiments, noting that the Synod on Synodality is a blessing for the African Church. 

“I find it really beautiful to go through this renewal,” Dr. Nonterah who teaches at Kwame Nkurumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) said.

She added, in relation to her role in the Synod, “The fact that lay people are participating in a synod shows that we are making progress in rediscovering that important aspect of being Church, which is being all-inclusive.”

The Ghanaian don however cautioned against a possible misconception that representation of the laity in the upcoming synod translates to categorizations.

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“For this synod, we should not be talking about issues of a certain category or section of Church. We should rather look at all of us as Christians, not about our different categorizations. I hope that we are all able to learn about journeying together and to be that Synodal Church that we are called to be,” she said.

Addressing journalists on Thursday, August 17, Fr. Rafael Simbine Junior, the Secretary General of SECAM expressed optimism that the seminar had been a success.

“By the end of this seminar, our expectation is that all the delegates are well prepared for the Rome meeting,” Fr. Simbine said.

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.