The KCCB-Commission for Clergy and Religious, with support from PMU, organized on-going formation workshops for representatives of Clergy and Religious from all Dioceses in Kenya. The workshops were held virtually from the 16th – 18th of September 2021 and were attended by about 70 people: sisters from the Association of Sisterhoods of Kenya (AOSK), members of the Religious Superiors’ Conference of Kenya (RSCK), the KCCB Liaison Committee and PMS Directors from various Kenyan Catholic Dioceses. The workshop’s aims were: to bring together women and men Religious to openly discuss the issues of evangelization and mission of the Church; to explain the role of the religious and Clergy in proclamation of the Gospel in our world today; to reflect on two documents “Evangelii Gaudium” and “Fratelli Tutti” in relation to the call to be announcers of the good news; to demonstrate the importance of collaborative ministry in evangelization; to explain the importance of the Kerygmatic Announcement of Jesus Christ in mission activities today; and to discuss contemporary issues in mission and accountability and integrity in the effective management of the organization.
The presentation of Fr Luke Bett, OP, a Kenyan Dominican priest on “The Importance of Kerygmatic Announcement of Jesus Christ in Mission Activities Today” was based on an in-depth study of the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium and of another Pope Francis’ encyclical Fratelli Tutti. In line with the call of the Holy Father in these documents, there was a greater need for joyful proclamation of the Gospel in the contemporary society. Fr. Bett also helped the group to better understand the Greek word Kerygma that means “proclamation”. He explained, “In the Christian context, it focuses precisely on the proclamation of the Good News of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. In other words, Jesus came to save us and the message we proclaim is about Him.” The goal of any proclamation of the kerygma is conversion. We want to be instruments of God, so others might have an encounter and response to his grace and mercy, and so become disciples of Jesus.
On the second day, participants delved into the new challenges of evangelization especially during the COVID-19 pandemic and how the mission has been affected. Is the Church still relevant? Is our mission still speaking the language of the people today? Is the Church reading the signs of time? These are some of the talking points raised by Fr Bonaventure Luchidio, PMS National Director in Kenya and Sr. Bridgita Mwawasi Samba, member of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Mombasa, during their presentation on the topic “Contemporary Issues in Mission.”
The workshop highlighted many challenges that need to be faced in the East African countries, these include but not limited to: retrogressive cultures, inadequate formation and catechesis as well as poor structures of Small Christian Communities (SCCs). We need to understand that the mission of the Church does not originate from the Church, but it has its origin in the heart of God. It is an attribute of the Triune God.
In the final session, the group listened to the presentation of Fr. Nicholas Makau, a Consolata Missionary priest, on “The Spirituality of Collaborative Ministry in Mission” in our work of evangelization. The speaker reinforced the importance of call and need for collaboration, mutuality, and partnering. Fr. Makau based his talk on biblical reference of collaboration as the family of God working in harmony, collaboration and unity for the good of all creation.
It is important to mention that “collaboration with” does not mean “substitution for.” So when we collaborate, each will still be doing their part, others only support, bring in their expertise, make it easy, share effort and burden, add value (cf. Christus Dominus 35, 5).
In order to “journey together,” we need to let ourselves be educated by the Spirit to adopt a truly mutual collaborative mentality, entering with courage and freedom of heart into a conversion process that is indispensable for the “continual reformation of which [the Church] she always has need, in so far as she is a human institution here on earth” (Evangelii Gaudium, 26).