The association of Catholic bishops in Africa will from tomorrow, July 21, commence a weeklong activities in Kampala, Uganda to mark its 50th anniversary as a continental body.
They would also use the occasion to pray for peace, progress and unity for the continent as well as review its activities in the last 50 years of its existence.
The bishops under the umbrella of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar will also hold its 18th plenary assembly during the period before departing to their dioceses on July 29th.
Bishop Emmanuel Badejo of the Catholic Diocese of Oyo and Bishop spokesman for the continental body disclosed this in a press statement to the News Agency of Nigeria.
Badejo said that the theme for the plenary assembly is: “Church-Family of God in Africa, Celebrate Your Jubilee! Proclaim Jesus Christ Your Saviour”.
He said that the assembly would also discuss religious, socioeconomic and political issues affecting the continent in relation to the world.
According to him, no fewer than 300 delegates which will include representatives from the Vatican, cardinals, bishops, priests, the lay faithful, the Catholic media practitioners and other dignitaries from the continent will participate.
He said that they would deliberate on how far the Church had come in its evangelizing mission in the last 50 years and chart the way forward for the next 50 years.
He said: “The deliberations of the assembly will also lead to the finalization of the “Kampala Document”.
“This is a pastoral document which will review the journey of SECAM over the past 50 years and will give direction on where the Church in Africa should be in the next 50 years, in terms of pastoral choices and priorities.”
He added that copies of the documents would be made available to the public in the various major languages being spoken in Africa.
He said that the bishops would end the assembly with a solemn Mass at the Uganda Martyrs Shrine, Namugongo, Kampala, on Sunday, July 28, 2019.
Badejo said that SECAM was born out of the desire of the African Bishops who attended the Second Vatican Council between (1962-1965), to establish a forum from which the Church in Africa could speak with one voice.
He added that the idea was concretised in July 1969, during the visit of Pope Paul VI to Kampala (Uganda); being the first time a Pope was visiting sub-Saharan Africa.
He said: “The African Bishops then saw it as an opportune occasion to launch the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar.
“Fifty years later, on 29th of July 2018, SECAM launched the SECAM Golden Jubilee Celebration Year on the theme, “Church-family of God in Africa, Celebrate your Jubilee! Proclaim Jesus Christ your Saviour.
“It was a deliberate decision to have an entire year of prayerful preparation from July 2018 toward the Golden Jubilee in July 2019.
“The year has, thus, been a period of thanksgiving, celebration of the progress made, repentance/conversion, reconciliation and a renewal of commitment to witnessing to Christ in Africa, Madagascar and the Islands.”