Bishop Joseph Kizito of the Diocese of Aliwal made a presentation to the missionaries on the second day of the orientation program, 14 September 2021, and among them were missionaries who work in his own diocese. His focus was on “The Church’s Mission and being Missionary Today in the SACBC region (reflection and discussion on some pertinent recent Church documents on mission.”
In giving the overall outline of his presentation he said to the missionaries that at they are now working in the SACBC territory and they have their own story to tell as he has his own story to tell, but in the end they will all together tell the story of the SACBC, which ultimately is the story of God.
The bishop based his presentation on Scriptural verses which spoke about vocations and mission. He spoke about the call of Jeremiah basing it on the words, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” This was to show that missionaries’ vocation originates from God’s plan. He also reminded the participants of the mission that Christ gave to his disciples as way of saying their missionary work is the fulfilment of that mandate, “Go to all nations, preach the Gospel. Proclaim the kingdom, baptize in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”
In presenting what Lumen Gentium says he focus on the Church being missionary of its nature. “All Catholics must be Missionaries by our Baptism. We have to be a LIGHT to the world and SALT to the earth. We have to be mission minded, to be on fire to share the good news,” noted the Bishop
He pointed out to the missionaries that they come from their cultures back home and now they are in their new local culture. “We are invited time and again to reflect on our home culture, but like any humans, culture has its beauty and its dark sides” said Bishop Kizito. He proceeded to about the Good Friday and the views around it not that when culture meets the Gospel it becomes part of a redeeming conversion – keeping what is good, healing what needs healing. He touched on the issue of incarnation of the Gospel and how the issue of ancestors and how they can be brought back home.
Bishop Kizito encourage the new missionaries to embrace their new home and learn about the cultural context in which they work and understand that South Africa is a multi-cultural society. He noted the importance of learning the language of the people where they work, their customs and values, or else the missionaries will feel disconnected. The Bishop also noted the need to avoid and called for the ability to adapt and acculturate without loosing one’s own culture.
Bishop Kizito also gave more advices on practical things like financial management encouraging the missionaries to try not to live beyond their means and avoid negative spending. He warned them not be captured by money, that they must know and be comfortable with their own economic status. The importance of the need to develop a good stewardship in the form of transparency and accountability to the Parish Finance Councils was also noted by the bishop.
The Bishop of Aliwal also did not leave behind the importance of ongoing formation, pointing out to the missionaries the worth of attending all ongoing formation programmes available to them. He urged them to keep on studying and have a sound theology. Before giving them a case study which he believed would help them to understand more the importance of inserting oneself in the community and openness. He spoke about the necessity of interpersonal connections in their pastoral areas. He noted usefulness of listening to the bishop, brother priests, religious men and women, staff, co-workers, and many more groups of people who will form part of their pastoral engagement. The bishop touched many other issued he deemed important to be noted by the missionaries including spiritual, moral, Gospel values, politics in the country, liturgical and medical. Bishop Joseph Kizito assured the missionaries of his prayers.