The Chairperson of the Southern African Council of Priests (SACOP), has called on Priests to attend “ongoing formation programs,” offered by the Southern African Catholic Bishops Conference (SACBC).
In his address to delegates during the SACOP annual general meeting (AGM) held at Mariannhill Retreat house, Fr Sefiri Motsepe underscored “ongoing formation programs” saying, “We would like to encourage our brother Priests to attend the different ongoing formation programs that are offered by the conference.”
Fr Motsepe told the Priests delegates representing the 29 Dioceses of the SACBC that priests should be encouraged to attend ongoing formation programs such as the two-week Coolock mini sabbatical scheduled to take place at Coolock House in KwaZulu Natal from May 29 to June 9, 2023, “We have two major ongoing formation programs. That is the one in Coolock House, and we are anticipating one of the sabbaticals, which is next year, 2024.”
“We also have other means of ongoing formation, such as our annual gathering of recently ordained priests, AGROP. We are very happy that some of the metropolitan archdioceses are really taking this seriously,” said Fr Motsepe.
A total of 35 delegates from the SACBC region attended the meeting from Monday, May 15 to 18. The four days meeting was centered around the reconfiguration of SACOP, that it becomes relevant to a priest’s needs in the 21st century. Listening, understanding, hearing as well as re-imaging, were pillars that guided the AGM.
The SACOP Chairperson further emphasised that priests need to be “All in this together”. He said, “There is a need for a sense of ownership so that priests in the collective can be able to fully collaborate with the Bishop’s endeavour to propagate the Gospels as expressed in their priestly ministry.”
He reminded priests that they have the “obligation to remember that they help Bishops in the parishes. In doing so, there is a need for a sense of brotherhood that will be beyond religious communities,” he added, “ Priests must be able to commit to mutual aid either spiritual, materially, pastorally, or personally.”
In attendance at the annual general meeting of the associate body of the SACBC was SACOP Liaison Bishop Robert Mogapi Mphiwe of Rustenburg Diocese who highlighted the commitment by the SACBC to “ continue to aid priests in ensuring that they become better equipped to face the pastoral challenges in our era.”
According to Fr Motsepe SACOP delegates have also proposed that there be a Convention in July 2024, where all priests will gather for spiritual and personal growth. During the AGM, “delegates reviewed and finalised the SACOP constitution, and also approved the new logo for the associate body of the SACBC”, said Fr. Motsepe.