During their webinar for the 3rd Assembly of CARITAS South Africa since its establishment in 2017, coordinators from 22 SACBC Dioceses discussed the development the body is making in different dioceses and evaluate the progress it has been making in response to Covid-19 pandemic.
The Annual Assembly was also meant for the presentation of Annual reports, national financial report, discuss and finalise strategic and operational plan, present safeguarding policy for CARITAS members and lastly to present Management Standards to be adopted and implemented across all diocesan CARITAS in South Africa. The standards should also adhere to the ones of CARITAS Internationalis.
In his opening address Cardinal Wilfrid Napier, the President of CARITAS South Africa, welcomed all participants to the assembly. He also pointed out some of the challenges facing South Africa during the scourge of Covid-19. He referred to the sufferings of the poor, violence against women and children, and increase of criminal activities as some of the outstanding challenges.
Cardinal Napier urged coordinators of CARITAS to be like the disciples of Christ by not keeping quiet about the misfortunes but stand strong in addressing the plights of the poor and win for them self-esteem and self-respect. He said CARITAS is bound with the kind of call during the scourge of Covid-19. He reminded them to adhere to the call of Pope Francis by promptly offering concrete signs of Church support by committing their material resources and personal responses to alleviate the plights of the poor and bring healing to the broken hearted.
Cardinal Napier emphasised to the assembly that after Covid-19 the world will be different and no one will be the same as now. He urged members of CARITAS to be quick in doing their work and in projecting the plans of the future to address challenges of post Covid-19.
The Cardinal applauded CARITAS South Africa for their solidarity with the poor during Covid19 and their effective response to the challenges posed by the pandemic. He also affirmed them for the excellent work of responding to the needs of Migrants and Refugees during the time when they were excluded from government relief fund. “We were there for them when nobody wanted to be there”, he said. He thanked CARITAS Internationalis for their unreserved support during the tough times of Covid-19.
The Southern African Cardinal said there is a need to raise awareness about the increasing infections of Covid-19 disease. He said parish leaders and priests should be well prepared to address the challenges posed by Covid-19 when the churches will be opened. He said there is a greater need of Ubuntu to tackle the problems of Covid-19. Though united in fear of the disease, there is a need to unite in solidarity to tackle challenges of Covid-19. Quoting the words from Laudato Si document of Pope Francis, he said there is a need to encourage culture of care.
Cardinal Napier ended by emphasising that Covid-19 is challenging all of us to do something new. He said during Covid-19 something new was experienced; the spiritual growth of many people. He said many people experienced a close encounter with God, despite not being able to have a Sacramental Communion, which was a big cross to them.
The 3rd Assembly of CARITAS South Africa was also honoured by the presence of Mr Aloysius John, the Secretary General of CARITAS Internationalis. During his remarks he said CARITAS South Africa plays a very important role, not only in South Africa, but the whole of Africa. It has been highly involved in addressing the challenges posed by Covid-19, as per the call of Pope Francis. He also applauded them for taking a courage to take care of people who nobody wanted to take care of them; migrants and refugees. He also congratulated them for being able to establish CARITAS in the parishes.
Like Cardinal Napier, Mr John highlighted possible challenges facing CARITAS South Africa in the near future. He said there is a new mission to be accomplished post Covid-19. He said they need to define a new start. They need to start now asking themselves how they are going to develop CARITAS in the parishes and promote dignity of human persons; about their unique role in receiving and accompanying the migrants and the role they are going to play in the misfortunes of Middle East. He said they need to show the world that they have the spirit of charity. He urged them to advance the spirit of solidarity and show the world that nobody should be left out.
Mr Albert Mashika, the Regional Executive General Secretary of CARITAS Africa applauded CARITAS South Africa for the structure and developed procedures they have established since 2017. He said they have already established CARITAS in 22 Dioceses of South Africa. He added that they are already participating in the life of the federation in the whole world and in Africa. They have also taken part in many events of CARITAS and they have been providing support to other countries facing crisis, such as Mozambique, despite their limited resources.
Mr Mashika also applauded CARITAS South Africa for being able to establish good working relationship and collaboration with the government of South Africa, other churches and charity organisations. He said the work of charity is big, alone they can’t manage. He also made them aware that they are in crisis because South Africa is the most affected country in Africa. He challenged them to also establish CARITAS in the small cities of South Africa through volunteers, not only in the big cities where they have already succeeded. He ended by encouraging members to make the work of CARITAS South Africa known in the whole world.
In his speech, Mr William Kelly, the Coordinator of CARITAS IMBISA, thanked CARITAS South Africa for establishing the body in the country. He stated that we are not living in the normal times because of Covid-19. He said there is a need to find our way during these devastating moments and see a meaningful change.
Mr Kelly emphasized that there is a need to work together and allow the spirit of Christ to guide us because the work of charity is not easy. He added that there is a need to support each other, pray and work together towards a clear vision. He said the period of Covid-19 is the time to rescue, rebuild and restore. “I promise you if you are prepared to work hard jointly towards the future you will see victory and fulfillment”, he said. He ended by affirming them that they should not fear.
The 3rd Assembly of CARITAS South Africa also deliberated on different issues, such as Covid-19 CARITAS South Africa response’s reports from different diocese of South Africa, the way to register the remaining SACBC Diocese to become members of CARITAS South Africa and CARITAS South Africa annual report, which was presented by Sr Maria Rissini, the National Coordinator of CARITAS South Africa.
The webinar assembly started at 09h55 and ended at 13h00. It was attended by 31 representatives from South Africa and special delegation from different parts of the world. It was chaired by Fr Patrick Rakeketsi, the Chairperson of CARITAS South Africa. It was concluded with prayer and blessing by Cardinal Wilfrid Napier.
By Paul Tatu (SACBC Communication and Media Office)
21st July 2020.
For more information kindly contact:
1. Cardinal W. Napier (President of CARITAS SA) +27 83 617 5213
2. Fr Patrick Rakeketsi (Chairperson of CARITAS SA) +27 73 380 5629
3. Sr Maria Rissini (National Coordinator of CARITAS SA) +27 79 167 2928