Highlights of the African Continental Mission Animation (MA)/ Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation (JPIC) Assembly in Accra, Ghana,

The seminar was entitled ‘Communion within our Congregation through our commitment to MA/JPIC’

The goals of the assembly were:

  • To define the role of the Province’s/ Regions’ MA/JPIC coordinator and formulate the way forward in the MA/JPIC ministry and animate sisters in the Province/Regions.
  • To deepen our knowledge of JPIC issues on the African Continent.
  • To deepen our understanding of our Congregation’s response to JPIC issues and to deepen our knowledge in relation to VIVAT International.
  • To elect the JPIC Continental Coordinator.

Names of the Participants: –

  1. Amandine Massame – Togo- Benin
  2. Angelina Vachia Jamba – Angola
  3. Felicita Jyoti purty – Mozambique
  4. Iwona Szatkowska – Botswana/South Africa
  5. Juliana Agbozo – Ghana
  6. Lovely Thomas – Ethiopia/Uganda/South Sudan
  7. Petroneldis Maria Florentina Wea – Zambia

Resource persons

  1. Sr. Gretta Maria Fernandes, SSpS – Congregational Mission Secretary
  2. Sr. Maria Vilma Espinosa – Continental JPIC Coordinator
  3. Fr. George Angmor, SVD – Provincial, Ghana
  4. Fr. Peter Kabutey, SVD – JPIC coordinator, Ghana
  5. Mr. Samuel Zan Akologo – Executive secretary of Caritas Ghana.

Coordinating team

  1. Sr. Ewa Piegdon, SSpS – Regional Leader, Zambia
  2. Sr. Mercy Benson, SSpS – Provincial Leader, Ghana

 

Day 1: April 28, 2019

The Assembly began with the Eucharist presided by Fr. George Angmor, SVD, provincial of Ghana.  In his homily, he shared that “As the Father sent me, even so I sent you”.  Accepting this call and recognizing our responsibility as MA/JPIC coordinators, JPIC coordinators are asked to recommit to the cause of justice and peace in Africa. He highlighted that togetherness of the apostles in the upper room, their being behind closed doors because of fear. He said that we may ask ourselves at this moment in our lives as individuals or as a group, what are the fears that are engulfing me/us?  He further remarked that as JPIC coordinators we know how difficult it can be to fight for justice and experience threat to our own lives just like Sr. Veronika Rackova who was brutally killed in South Sudan. So the need of the hour is our communion within our congregation, and other partners, and pooling our resources together to work for justice and peace.

Following the Holy Eucharist, the participants implored the Creator Spirit and Sisters Vilma and Ewa performed the Enthronement of the Bible.  The first session was on communion within our congregation, which was presented by Fr. George Angmor, SVD. He stated that communion within our congregation through our commitment to JPIC is by working with all marginalized groups, in educating the children in Africa, providing health services. It is by living our life in the poverty of Africa and its cross-cultural reality (threats to life, internal war and conflicts, financial constraints in implementing  JPIC ministry).  In Africa, JPIC ministry is challenged by the corrupt political and bureaucratic system.  He posed a question to the participants: Why I am doing this? Our communion within our congregation is also through our common program like our NGO VIVAT at the United Nations in New York and in Geneva.

Sr. Ma. Vilma Espinosa, the present Continental JPIC coordinator, gave a collated report from JPIC coordinators in the SSpS province/ regions in Africa. She stated in her report that first of all we have to take note of the readiness of the sisters to venture into new apostolates despite the risks. She mentioned that there are good practices in the promotion and empowerment of women/girls especially in educating them and providing hostel/boarding facilities. The street children are also a reality in our midst and ministering to them puts us in contact with the needy families from which they come; family members who are waiting for their meager “remittance”. Additionally, being present among the refugees and displaced people of South Sudan/Uganda unites every one of us in prayer for the sisters whose lives are always at risk.

Lastly, in addressing our common concerns there is a need to strengthen our collaboration at the local, provincial-regional and continental level. Importantly, communication channels and documentation need to be intensified. We cannot enter into continental collaboration unless we start from the basic aspect of working on ourselves in terms of personal commitment to do what is needed.  Constitution 112 says “recognizing that the selfishness of the human heart is at the root of all oppressive structures and systems, we struggle against sinfulness in our own lives” where individualism and ethnocentrism can endanger our ministry in the local level.

In the afternoon, the participants met in three small groups of four and shared on:

  • What struck them most from the morning’s two presentations?
  • What are some of the joys and challenges in your JPIC ministry?

The three groups shared that we are all called to consciously make JPIC an integral part of our lives. From the presentations, we understand that though we are in 10 different countries of Africa with different realities, we are in communion with each other by our commitment to JPIC and working with different issues but all aiming to bring justice and peace to the African continent.

Some of the joys of working in JPIC ministry are witnessing changes in the lives of people with whom we are working. Our commitment to JPIC does not allow us to give up easily. Empowerment of women and children in our province and regions is another reason for us to be joyful.  The challenge is that there is no full time JPIC coordinator and it affects our involvement in animating the sisters in the province/regions. In some places the communities are widespread and it is difficult to reach those places, as the JPIC coordinator has another fulltime assignment.  There are always financial constraints on the African continent. Due to constant changes in JPIC coordinators we lack long term plans for the people with whom we work.  It is discouraging sometimes when we get no response/reports from the communities. It is becoming increasingly difficult as government policies and laws keep changing.

The afternoon session was on World and Church Realities and JPIC at the Congregational Level by Sr. Gretta Fernandes, SSpS.  She shared how SSpS respond to the current world realities of poverty, refugees and migration, internal conflict and war, climate change and clericalism in the Catholic Church. Her presentation was very informative and she gave updates on the migrant and refugee situation in Europe.  We concluded the day with silent adoration followed by supper.