Short Workshop on Ecumenism

To mark the week of prayer for Christian unity which is celebrated every year from the 18th to the 25th January, FENZA and the Holy Spirit Parish in Lusaka organised a short workshop. Fr. Robert Lavertu, one of the facilatators, gives us his report below.

Ecumenism conf 2CONFERENCE ON ECUMENISM

At Holy Spirit Parish, Libala South, Lusaka.

Saturday, 16th January 2016, 8h.-14h.

Report

Present: From FENZA: Fr. Romaric Bationo, Director, Fr. Robert Lavertu;
From St. Dominic”s Seminary: 4th year Seminarian Pius Kaputa,
From Holy Spirit Parish: Fr. Pamphilius Ngowi, Parish Priest, and 67 Parishioners as mentioned below.

1.The Holy Mass celebrated at 08h by the Parish Priest Fr.Pamphilius Ngowi HS was a good preparation for the Conference, and it was attended by more than 50 Parishioners, among whom were many children.

2. The Conference began by 09.30h with more than 40 adults from all the 10 SCC’s and many movements of Lay Apostolate. More continued to arrive during the first part of the Conference. With the introduction by Mr.Gregory Lange, Parish Council Executive member and M.C. for the occasion, a song and prayer opened for us the Conference, followed by the Introduction of all participants.

3. Church History. Then Fr. Lavertu was invited to do the first Presentation, History of the Church, that lasted an hour, with the help of the History charts that all participants had received, in addition to the big chart at the front of the Hall.

After the History presentation, all the participants, who were 67 by then, came to buy, at K5 each, the History charts which they had been using for the presentation. Another P.C. Executive member, Mr. Sikazwe, did the selling. That allowed for a time of break before the next exercise.

4. Ecumenism. The next exercise was the second Presentation by St. Dominic’s 4th Year Seminarian Pius Kaputa on the subject of Ecumenism. In a period of 30 minutes, the Seminarian prepared the audience for the 20 minutes Group Work that was to follow.

5. Group work: The groups were arranged according to the 10 SCC’s of the Parish, and were very active in their deliberations. The answers varied according to groups but had also a lot in common.

Ecumenism conf 1

 Qu.1: List down some of the Christian Churches that you know.
Most groups could name 4 or 5 Churches, but some could mention as many as 10. The most mentioned Churches included the UCZ, Anglican, Seven Day Adventists and Jehovah Witnesses.
Qu. 2: What efforts are being made in your Parish to promote the unity of Christians?
Most groups mentioned the common Palm procession of Palm Sunday, but others added the common prayers at Easter, and some other occasions. Besides that, some groups mentioned:
- inter-Church prayers,
- sharing visits and help to the sick and the needy,
- helping one another at funerals, and even at weddings in some occasions.

Qu 3: How can we promote understanding and cooperation with Christians from other Churches?
All groups contributed in various ways:
- Sharing worship together, and praying together especially at funerals,
- Sharing celebrations together such as Youth Day, World Women’s Day, etc.
- Being humble and open to one another’s needs,
- Inviting one another to meetings, Parish celebrations, music festivals, sports,
- Practicing open dialogue.

6. Week of Prayer, 18-25 January every year. Seminarian Pius Kaputa explained in 20 minutes the various ways in which this Week of Prayer can be carried out in our Parishes.

7. Second Group Work,  In a period of 10 minutes the same groups as previously shared on this one question:  “How can you organize your Week of Prayer?”
The groups proposed various ways of conducting common services of prayer involving their neighbours of other Churches. All those proposals were collected by the Parish Executive, so they could come, with the Parish Priest, to a common pattern that will be presented tomorrow, Sunday, to the Parish Community.

8. Evaluation: Mr. Lange now invited the participants to give their Evaluation of the Conference, as follows:
i) What did you appreciate in this Conference? The responses were generally very positive, some participants called the Conference “very good”, and others went on commenting as follows:
- people in our Church need to participate in this kind of exercise,
- the Church History is very important and was useful to us,
- this program must go ahead and be proposed to other Parishes…

ii) What could be improved?
-       It was good to have this session in English and Bemba, but it will be better if we have it also in Nyanja;
-       This is a topic that we must find ways to share with our youth, they need it;
-       Church History must be part of our catechesis.

9. Concluding remarks: Before the closing hymn and prayer at 14h, the FENZA Director, Fr. Romaric Bationo was then invited to conclude the Conference. He expressed his appreciation for the active and creative participation of the Holy Spirit Parishioners. He emphasized that this exercise is an essential part of FENZA’s mission.  He introduced briefly the theme of this year’s Week of Christian Unity: “called to proclaim the mighty acts of God”. He also gave some materials that can be used for the Prayer services.