"Where do we go from here?"

The presbyteral council is normally held at the Bishop Louis Ncamiso Ndlovu's Hall
Every four months, all the priests of the Diocese of Manzini gather for the "presbyteral council meeting". We normally start by 9.30 am and finish with lunch at 1.00 pm. The meeting starts with the "bishop's remarks". This is part of what I shared with them a couple of weeks' ago.

* * *
We are reaching the end of the year. It was a very special one. We started the year by welcoming the SACBC (Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference) for the first time in history for a plenary session. They had been here for IMBISA in the past but never for a plenary. In fact, Fr Richard Menatsi told me it was the only time a plenary session was held out of South Africa.
They were here to celebrate the centenary of the Catholic Church in the Kingdom of Swaziland.
Our diocese showed an amazing capacity to organise so many events in a short space of time: the plenary session, the launch of a book by the Aids Office, the centenary celebrations and my installation as bishop of Manzini. It was all a real tribute to the history of this diocese. Everyone marvelled at how well everything had been prepared and the spirit with which they were welcomed.
Later on in the year we celebrated the presbyteral ordination of Fr Ncamiso Vilakati and Fr Zweli Ngwenya. It was a beautiful celebration.
In between we had the restructuring of parishes and services. To make it possible, the availability of you all was needed. Some welcomed it with great joy, some with more difficulty. But the fact is that it was accepted in faith.
What probably was new, was the process of “handing over” the parish to the new priest-in-charge. It was done in nearly all the parishes and for that I must congratelate and thank you all. We are familiar with biblical texts, particularly in the New Testament, where we are reminded that we are administrators of God's gifts, not owners. The handing over process was a sign of that.

Towards the end of a “famous film” (famous for me born in Argentina) called “Evita”, Madonna starts singing where do we go from here?
The end of a year and the beginning of a new one makes some / many people reflect on their personal lives and then make “new year resolutions”. We know that for some / many they are forgotten after just a few days.
The exercise, though, is a valid one. Particularly for us who had a very special one with an abundance of God's blessings, for us who are called to be leaders, shepherds of people entrusted to us. Sometimes / Many times?! we point fingers at local, national, regional or international leaders; it is clear to us what they should be doing. What about us? Is it clear to us too what we are called to do and to be? 
When we started planning the “vocational year”, one of the sisters acknowledge that in order to attract vocations we might need to do some “panel beating”. I loved the image. I also shared it with the bishops.
We are the leaders! We are the shepherds! Justice and peace, good governance, the joy of the Gospel... all this, starts with us!

It might sound as a “slogan” but I would like to think of us all as a “the diocese of Manzini at the beginning of a new century”.
How do we make sure that we and our communities grow in a missionary spirit and not just look after "the sheep" we have? If would be as if myself as a bishop would say: there is no need to work for vocations, we have priests, let us just care about them.
Hope to be able to propose something in the coming weeks but in the meantime I invite you all to think about it. We are not a museum, as I said in January. We are not here to look after the past but to lead our diocese into a new centenary.

The gathering always finishes with lunch


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Bishop of the Diocese of Manzini (Swaziland)

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