Planning their ongoing formation, the diocesan priests of the diocese of Manzini invited Fr Peter-John Pearson to be with them for a day.
Fr Pearson is the director of the CPLO (Catholic Parliamentary Liaison Office) based in Cape Town (South Africa).
"The Parliamentary Liaison Office of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC) is the official vehicle for contact and dialogue between the Catholic Church in South Africa on the one hand, and the country’s Parliament and government on the other." (http://www.cplo.org.za)
I believed it would be a pity if Fr Pearson would meet only them when many other people in our diocese would like to. It was also true that he did not have much time available.
Sunday morning I announced in the Cathedral that I was inviting the Catholic men to the "Bishop's House" (which in fact is an extension of the Catholic Centre where we held many of our meetings) for an informal meeting with Fr Pearson on "Catholic Social Teaching" (CST).
It would be "a men's thing". The reason I invited only them was, together with the limited space, the fact that they had manifested the need to know more about it.
The Swaziland Council of Catholic Men (SCCM) planned for a group of 50 people but we got... double that number! Around 100 men packed the hall for a couple of hours.
Starting from the familiar parable of "the rich man and Lazarus" (Luke 16: 19 - 31) and quoting a 1971 document from the Synod of Bishops (Justice in the World), he reminded them that "work for social justice is a constituent element of preaching the Gospel".
After a half an hour introduction on CST and the CPLO it was time for questions. By 8 pm we decided it was time to stop. We could have continued but we realised that we would need a full day or a weekend to have a proper introduction. The depth and richness of Catholic Social Teaching calls for that. Then, as I said on the day of my installation in this diocese, we Catholics need to be familiar with the Bible, the Catechism of the Catholic Church and... the Catholic Social Teaching.
We are grateful to Fr PJ Pearson for the time he gave us and we are looking forward to having him back - hopefully - next year. Then, of course, we will have to be "gender balanced".