The Pan-African Catholic Congress on Theology, Society, and Pastoral Life was held in Bigard Memorial Seminary, Enugu – Nigeria. The Congress which was hosted by African Catholicism Project in Collaboration with Bigard Memorial Seminary, Enugu, spanned from Thursday, December 5 to Sunday, December 8, 2019. The Congress with the theme – What Must We Do to Perform the Works of God (John 6:28)? – also marked the 50 years of SECAM, 25 years of Ecclesia in Africa, and 10 years of Africae Munus.
The congress featured many guest speakers, prominent among whom were: Archbishop Charles Palmer-Buckle (Ghana), Prof. Kurt Appel (Austria), Bishop Sithembele Sipuka (South Africa), Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah (Nigeria), Prof. Bill Cavanaugh (USA), Bishop Francis Adesina (Nigeria), Prof. Emmanuele Colombo (Italy), among others.
As typical of congress of this magnitude, there were sequences of paper presentations, conferences, speeches, and other forms of interventions. The congress, however, was not purely academic as the night sessions were majorly reserved for social events and for celebrating some individuals and institutions that had distinguished themselves in the mission projects of the African Church.
The 4-day congress was most enriching. Each day’s activities came in two sessions – the morning (9am – 12.30pm) and afternoon sessions (2.15 – 6.00pm). In the morning sessions there were plenary sessions which led to concurrent sessions and discussions. Each plenary session featured 4 paper presentations. In the concurrent sessions, however, lectures went on simultaneously in three Lecture Halls. Each of the halls had a unique theme which 4 paper presenters were required to address in a related topics assigned them under the moderation of a scholar known as the chairman. The morning sessions ended at 12.30 hours.
The afternoon session started at 14.15 hours with concurrent sessions which featured other unique themes and new set of presenters. By 16.00 hours the participants gathered at the auditorium for the second plenary session. The afternoon sessions ended at 18.00 hours. At 20.30 hours, all the participants again gathered in the Seminary Auditorium for social events and an allocutio that ended the day’s program.
The Pan-African Congress ended with a Eucharistic Celebration on Sunday, December 8, 2019. The Mass was presided over by His Lordship Most Rev. Desmond Tambala, and concelebrated by His Grace Most Rev. Charles Palmer-Buckle, Very. Rev. Fr. Dr Albert Ikpenwa and other priests who were part of the congress. In attendance also were the seminarians of Bigard memorial seminary, Enugu, and many other participants.
In his homily drawn from the readings of the day, the bishop remarked that truth must be said at all times and in all circumstances even when the resultant effects appear to work to one’s disfavour. Christ, he said, called the Pharisees brood of vipers on account of the harm they caused to the community of their time through insincerity of life. Going forward, he called on all participants of the congress to be steadfast, faithful, and committed to the mission of the universal Church, and indeed the African Church in particular.
Rev. Fr. Prof. Stan Chu Ilo gave a vote of thanks after the post communion prayers. He thanked all who were instrumental to the success of the congress, the guest speakers for accepting to speak during the sessions, and finally all who were part of the congress. There were group photographs in front of the seminary chapel after the Mass ended.
Find below the themes addressed in the plenary and concurrent sessions, the names of the moderators, and corresponding presenters:
DAY 1 – FRIDAY, DECEMBER 6, 2019
THEME: MEMORIES OF THE SYNOD: WHAT WE HAVE SEEN AND HEARD
- + Charles G. Palmer-Buckle (Ghana): From SECAM to the African Synod: Profile of Pastors with the Smell of Sheep in Africa
- Joseph Faniran (Nigeria): The Dreams of our Fathers and Sons at the Synod: How Far so Far?
- Stan Chu Ilo (Nigeria): From African Synods I&II to Pope Francis: Continuing the Reform and Renewal of Vatican II?
- Noelina Nakato (Uganda): Dreams of our Mothers and Daughters for the Renewal of Faith and Life in Africa: Addressing the Challenges Facing African Women in both Church and Society in Africa
Hall A – THEME: Evangelization and Mission
Moderator: Albert Ikpenwa (Nigeria)
- Albert Owusu-Afriyie (Ghana): Go out and Proclaim the Good News: Bible and Faith in Building the Church as the Family of God
- George Ehusani/Emmanuel Ojeifo (Nigeria): Leadership Training for Pastoral Agents and Agents of Change in Africa: Field Notes from the Trenches.
- Florence Oso (Nigeria): Proclamation and the Missio Dei in Africa: Has Africa Realized the Proposals of the 2 African Synods.
- . Bolanle Ojo (Nigeria): Authentic Formation of Pastoral Agent: A Veritable Means of New Evangelization in Africa
Hall B. THEME: Evangelization and Formation of Pastoral Agents.
Moderator: Barnabas Shabayang (Nigeria)
- Idara Otu (Nigeria): An African Theology of Development: Lessons from our Failures and Successes
- Bienvenu Matanzonga SJ (Congo): Lessons and Best Practices for Formation of Pastoral and Change Agents for Justice, Peace and Reconciliation in Africa : A Field Note
- Leonida Katunge (Kenya): Forming Pastoral Agents: Steps Towards Realizing the Dream of the Two African Synods on Defending the Rights of the Poor and the Voiceless in Africa
- Nora Nonterah (Ghana): Forming the Laity to Adult Faith in Africa: Theological Foundation for Collaborative Ministry and Service.
Hall C. THEME: Evangelization and Politics in Africa
Moderator: Chinedu Anieke (Nigeria)
- Aloys Ojore (Kenya): Politics without Bitterness in Africa: Appropriating the Wisdom of Jesus Christ, Martin Luther King Jr and Nelson Mandela.
- Mumbi Kigutha (Kenya/USA): The Formation of Pastoral Agents in the Spirit of Pope Francis: Addressing the Challenges of Sexual Abuse and Boundary Issues in Pastoral Ministry in Africa
- Bienvenue Mayemba (DRC/Cote d’Ivoire): Proposals for Theologies and Pastoral Practices which can Liberate God’s People from Fear and Poverty.
Hall A. THEME: Catholic Intellectual Traditions in Africa: From the Ivory Tower to Faith Formation In parishes.
Moderator: Paschal Mba
- Sylvanus Nnoruka (Nigeria): Transforming African Catholic Intellectual Tradition and Worldviews: Lessons from my Service to the Catholic Academy in Nigeria.
- SimonMary Aihiokhai (Nigeria/USA): What Lessons Can African Churches Learn from the Role of Religious Conflicts in 20th century wars and genocide.
- Bill Cavanaugh (USA): What Lessons can African Churches Learn from the Conflict and Collaboration between Religion and the State in Catholic Education.
- Toussaint Kafarhire Muruhula (DRC): The Jesuit in Africa: Mission, Ministry, and Moments of Grace in Advancing Catholic Intellectual and Social Traditions in Africa.
Hall B. THEME: Catholic Moral Traditions in Africa: Morality Truly Catholic and Truly African
Moderator: Leonard Ilechukwu (Nigeria)
- Paulinus Odozor (Nigeria/USA): The Implementation of Amoris Laetitia in Africa: Some Important Lessons and Challenges in Africa.
- Nathanael Soede (Benin Republic): The Two African Synods as Invitation to an Ethics of Life in Africa: Some Lessons for the church in Africa.
- Ikenna Okafor (Nigeria/Austria): Fraternal Solidarity and the Ethics of Care and Compassion in Church and State in Africa
- Justin Nabushawo (Uganda): Dialogue and Conflict Resolution in our Churches: Lessons and Failings since Ecclesia in Africa.
Hall C. THEME: Health, Healing and Human Suffering
Moderator: Ruffino Ezama (USA/Uganda)
- Barry Ene (Nigeria,USA): The Place of Church Hospitals in Integral Healthcare: Best Practices
- Susan Nedza Lastres (USA): The Role of International Catholic Charities in Promoting Global Health
- Anthony Igwe (Nigeria): Health and Healing: Healing Ministries, Catholic Hospitals and Public Health in Africa.
- Cajetan Ilo (Nigeria): Public Health and Public Faith: Lessons for African Families
From Vatican II to African Synod II: Traditions, Transitions and Transformation in the Catholic Church in Africa
Moderator: Nontando Hadebe (South Africa)
- Luke Ijezie (Nigeria): Why Traditions Matter: A Biblical Understanding of Tradition and Innovation in Christian History
- +Sithembele Sipuka (South Africa): The Bishop as Teacher of the Faith in Africa: Challenges and Opportunities for Collaborative Ministry in our local churches.
- + George Desmond Tambala, OCD (Malawi) Between Rome and Africa: The Challenges and Opportunities of Implementing African Synod I& 11
- Kurt Appel (Austria): Reform and Renewal in Local Churches: Lessons from Rosmini and Pope Francis
Allocutio: Mother MaryAnn Dike.
DAY II – SATURDAY, DECEMBER 7, 2019
Theme: The Church in Africa as Salt and Light and the Family of God: The Social Mission of the Church.
Moderator: Agatha Chidolue
- Ruffino Ezama (South Sudan): No Development without Peace: Lessons from Sudan
- +Francis Adesina (Nigeria): Proposals for a Servant and Transformational Leadership for God’s People in Africa
- 3. Elizabeth Kamini (Kenya): Building Peace and Development from the Rough grounds: My Story
- Teresia Wachira (Kenya/Pax Christi): Reconciliation and Peace in Africa: Some Lessons on the Obstacles and Hope for Peace in Africa and the Agency of the Catholic Church as a Peace-Maker.
Hall A: THEME: Dialogue and Inculturation in the Christian Mission in Africa.
Moderator: Damian Udechukwu (Nigeria)
- Charles Ebelebe (Nigeria): An Inculturated Church in Africa: Lessons and Failings since Ecclesia in Africa
- Anthony Ewherido (Nigeria): Inculturation and Liberation from Poverty: Lessons and Challenges in the Implementation of Africae Munus
- Cosmas Sarbah (Ghana): Understanding the Nature and Complexity Religious Conflict, Islamic Terrorism and Christian Persecution in Africa: A Guide for the Perplexed
- Antonia Bolanle Ojo (Nigeria): Authentic Formation of Pastoral Agents: A Veritable Means of Re-Evangelization in Africa
Hall B: THEME: Dialogue and Reconciliation in the Christian Mission in Africa.
Moderator: Bona Ugwu (Nigeria)
- Lawrence Nwankwo (Nigeria): Lessons from African Pentecostals and Charismatics: Renewal of Faith, Healing and Miracles
- 2.Itumeleng Daniel (South Africa): Healing of Wounds of Body and Soul: Going Beyond the Search for Miracles to A Biblical Understanding of Wholeness
- Cosmas Uzowulu (Nigeria): Dialogue in Cultural Conflicts Between the Church and African Traditions: Lessons from Biblical Traditions.
- Agnes Adepoju (Nigeria): Training of Pastoral Agent in the Spirit of Pope Francis: Healing of Victims and Addressing Boundary Issues in the Church’s Social Ministry
Hall C: THEME; Dialogue and Reform for the Church as a Field Hospital in Africa.
Moderator: Clement Obasi (Nigeria)
- Osita Asogwa (Nigeria): Dialogue between African Philosophies and Theologies for a Reforming Church: Lessons from Veritatis Gaudium on Ecclesiastical Studies in the Catholic Church
- Patrick Chibuko (Nigeria): Liturgical Renewal in Africa for the Church as a Field Hospital: Some Proposals
- Emanuele Colombo (Italy/USA): Catholic Intellectual Heritage and the Reform of the Church: Learning from the Success and Challenges of the Jesuits in Europe
Hall A: THEME: Communicating the Truths of Faith: Social Media and Social Issues Facing Young People in Africa
Moderator: MaryReginald Anibueze (Nigeria)
- Gerald Musa (Nigeria): The Gospel according to Social Media: Field Guide for the Perplexed
- Walter Ihejirika (Nigeria): Communicating the Good News in the Era of fake news: Lessons for Deepening the Faith in the Light of the Two African Synods
- Eddy Obi (Nigeria): The Church in Africa and the Challenges of Climate Change: Pathways to an African Ecological Ethics.
- Dorris Van Gaal (Netherlands): A Forgotten Mission in African Catholicism? The Gospel and Politics of Global Migration.
Hall B: THEME: Communicating the Truths of Faith: Marriage and Family Life
Moderator: Ambrose Agu (Nigeria)
- Justina Ndaita (Kenya): The Role of Catholic Education in the Evangelization of Culture in Africa
- Raymond Aina (Nigeria): The challenges of Poverty on African Families: What Has the Church done in Africa since African Synod I&2?
- Anna Nyadoma (Zimbabwe): Serving the Vulnerable Among Us with Integrity: Best Practices for Accompaniment
- Eunice Kamaara/Daniel Lagat (Kenya): The Reinvention of Humanity in the West: Gender Theories, and the Rights of African women and families.
Theme: Moving from Words to Action—Leadership, Authority, and Mentoring
Moderator: Patrick Alumuku (Nigeria)
- +Matthew Hassan Kukah (Nigeria): Mentoring for Leadership in the Church in Africa: Some Field Notes from the Trenches.
- Adesuwa Onyenokwe (Nigeria): Proposals for Inclusion of Women in Leadership in the Catholic Church in Africa
- Norbert Litoing (Cameroun/USA): Memories and Traditions in Renewing and Transforming Religious Faith in Africa.
- Mary Sylvia Nwachukwu (Nigeria): Training and Mentoring Africa’s Young Men and Women For Faithful Witnessing Today: Maintaining Quality and Innovation in Catholic Higher Education in Africa.
Allocutio: Ruffino Ezama; Conversation Partner, Bienvenu Mayemba
SUNDAY, DECEMBER 8, 2019
(Holy Mass marking the end of the congress and departure)