Dear Brothers and Sisters in Consecrated Life, May the Lord give you Peace.
In 1997, Pope St. John Paul II instituted a day of prayer for men and women in consecrated life. This World Day for Consecrated Life, whose annual celebration is attached to the February 2 Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, has accorded the whole Church and all peoples an opportunity to contemplate, with greater appreciation, the gift of the Religious Vocation and its contribution to the holiness of the Church, its mission of evangelization and the general advancement of human society.
On this special occasion of celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the World Day for Consecrated Life, I, on behalf of the Zambia Conference of Catholic Bishops (ZCCB), wish to congratulate all members of the various Institutes of Consecrated Life who are witnessing and ministering here in Zambia. It is an undeniable fact that the history of the Catholic Church in our country is intimately linked to the missionary endeavours of the men and women from various Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.
125 years ago, the first Catholic missionaries, the White Fathers, set foot into the northern region of our land and began the systematic proclamation of the Gospel. The decades that followed were characterized by such a prolific wave of missionary endeavours that by the mid of the twentieth century, the Catholic Church was practically established in all regions of the country. We pay resounding tribute to these gallant missionaries from various Institutes – the Jesuits, the Franciscan Conventuals and Capuchins, the Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Africa, the Little Servants of Mary Immaculate, the Franciscan Missionaries of Assisi, the Dominicans, the Holy Cross, to mention but a few.
The Spirit of the risen Lord has at all times provided to the Church in Zambia Institutes of Consecrated Life with a wide diversity of charisms through which the spiritual richness of the Catholic Church is manifested. This feast day of the Consecrated during this Jubilee Year of the Catholic Faith in Zambia presents itself as another fitting occasion to reiterate our profound gratitude to the manifold expressions of Consecrated Life in our country today. Thank you for your relentless commitment to the mission of announcing the Good News and the concomitant social ministries through which you give hope and restore the dignity of God’s people, especially those in the far-flung and often forgotten parts of our country. We embrace you as a Divine gift to the local Church and a guarantee of its holiness.
It is our hope that your life in community, inspired by the evangelical counsels of chastity, poverty and obedience that you profess, will continue to be a prophetic sign to our society as it grapples with the present day challenges of secularism, individualism, corruption, and mediocrity. Do not allow the great spiritual wealth of your consecration and respective charisms to degenerate into obsolesce and irrelevancy through unnecessary compromises and shift from things that really matter – prayer, charity, life, commitment. We guarantee to support you so that you may always remain faithful to the inspiration of your respective founders while at the same time being open to an ever more fruitful spiritual and pastoral cooperation with us in line with the needs of respective dioceses where you are established.
May the celebration of your feast day be an occasion of renewal and recommitment. Through you let the light of the nations, Jesus Christ, shine forth to all the peoples.
Happy Feast day. + Patrick Chisanga, OFM Conv (Bishop of Mansa Diocese and Director of the Consecrated)