Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, as the Year 2017 Unfolds, I present to you this first edition of Mansa Roundup for the year 2017: In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
The Pastoral Theme that is accompanying our programs this year is: Ba Minshioni ba Lelo Nifwe (We are the Missionaries of Today). This is inspired by the ongoing commemoration, of 125 years, since the arrival of the first Catholic Missionaries into the present day Zambia, and 116 into today’s Mansa Diocese.
On the national level, this Jubilee was inaugurated, on 6th August 2006, at Mambwe Mwela in Mbala District, the very site of first settlement by the pioneer White Fathers (1891). The celebrations will conclude, on 15th July 2017, with the solemn celebration of the Eucharist in Lusaka.
Locally, in Mansa Diocese, the celebrations were launched on 2nd October 2016 at Santa Maria wa Mwelu, near Chibote Mission, where the first missionaries settled in 1900 and intended to establish the first Catholic mission in the Luapula region. The ruins and bricks of the house for priests are still intact up to date – a living sign of the continued sacredness of this site. To this very place we are returning on 7th October for the diocesan solemn closure of this year of celebrating the arrival and works of the pioneer missionaries. This would also be the fitting occasion to consecrate this holy site as a Diocesan Marian Shrine, dedicated to the Queen of Missionaries. Let us all work together towards the success of these events, for Ba Minshioni ba Lelo Nifwe.
The beginning of this year has been crowned with significant events in the life of our Diocese and the realization of its Vision. It was very remarkable, for instance, that the very first procession into the Cathedral, for the New Year Eucharistic celebration, was led by a person with special needs who carried the processional cross and served during Mass. Our dear friend, Billy Beddor, who was born with Down Syndrome 51 years ago, came all the way from the US with his sister Sandy and sister-in-law, Coleen, together with Amy Hewitt and her team from the University of Minnesota.
The training they conducted regarding people with disabilities was a great step towards the realization of our Vision of “A Diocese that Embraces Everyone with Christ’s Love.” To this effect, I call upon every parish and diocesan institution to put in place deliberate policies that fosters love, respect and inclusion of people with disabilities.
Another significant blessing at the beginning of this year (5th January) was the Government’s handover of Kabunda Girls Secondary School as a Catholic Mission School with Grand-Aided status. This followed the arrival of the Dominican Sisters in the Diocese (4th January) who have since been entrusted with management of the institution, which on 24th February was re-dedicated as Holy Trinity Girls Secondary School during the solemn Eucharistic celebration. Welcome to Mansa dear Sisters and thank you for taking up the challenge. The needs of this school are immense; let us all contribute to its rebuilding.
A hearty welcome also to members of other religious institutes who have recently come on board to contribute to our mission of giving life in abundance to God’s flock (John 10:10). I thank in particular the superiors of the Little Servants of Mary Immaculate (LSMI), the Franciscan Missionaries of Divine Motherhood (FMDM), the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians (Salesian Sisters), the Sisters of St Joseph (Soeurs de Sant Joseph Auxiliatrice de L’Eglise) and our own Sisters of Mercy for the personnel they have made available to serve in the various apostolates of the Diocese in the recent past. Furthermore, I welcome the many lay faithful who have come to our Diocese and are already fully involved in the life of their respective new parishes.
Events such as the foregoing are a source of great hope for our Diocese despite the many challenges we face, especially those arising from the economic crisis that have always haunted our region of Luapula. Let us be united and fight this dehumanising evil of poverty. Let us also demand positive action from all our leaders, especially those appointed to high portfolios of central Government who tend to forget their roots. There shall be no excuse for them not to make a difference.
As the year 2017 unfolds, I invite everyone to pay heed to the Lord’s command, which we have also adopted as the theme for our Diocesan Strategic Plan 2016-2021, to “Let Down the Nets for a Catch” (Luke 5:4). All departments and individuals must strive to implement the strategic goals that pertain to them. Let us be true missionaries of today who pledge not to betray the great sacrifice and works of the pioneer missionaries.
May God bless all our readers of Mansa Roundup. Thank you for your constructive feedback and every support. Have a fruitful Lenten Season.