The Vision and the Priorities of the Diocese of Port Elizabeth
By His Grace, Bishop Vincent Mduduza Zungu OFM
1. Living the fullness of life in communion with God: the Father, through Jesus Christ in the Holy Spirit
A. John 17: 21 "[Father] may they all be one ('ut unum sint' 'eenwees in ons', 'mababe banye kuthi'); as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, so also may they be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me".
B. GS 19: 1 "The dignity of the human person rests above all on the fact that he is called to communion with God [who is the Divine Family of Three Persons: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit]".
I envisage, for the Diocese of Port Elizabeth the community of believers ('we believe') and individual Catholics ('I believe') who through their baptism and sacramental life in the Church experience the radical and permanent call to 'seek God, know Him, love Him, serve Him so that they can be happy with Him already in this life and forever in Heaven'. Our faith teaches us that "the desire for God is written in the human heart, because man is created by God and for God; and God never ceases to draw man to himself. Only in God will he find the truth and happiness he never stops searching for" (CCC # 1) I seek to promote all that will lead our people to appreciate, develop and deepen their intimate relationship with God, such as personal and communal prayer, active participation and celebration of liturgy, the prayerful reading of the Word of God through Renew Africa programmes, in Christian families, local parishes and in small Christian communities. Foster greater collaboration and unity with other believers of other Christian denominations and other faiths.
Committed to build and enhance the spirit of fraternal com¬munion, mutual care and solidarity among the Clergy and all the People of God in the diocese through active dialogue, listening and mutual respect so that the Diocese becomes a home for all who live and minister in it.
2. Committed to the process of dynamic and integral Christian formation in all sectors of the Diocese
(Clergy, Religious, Laity, Seminarians, Youth, Children & Catechumens)
A. Jeremiah 18: 6 "Then the word of the Lord came to me: Israel, can I not deal with you as this potter deals with his clay - it is the Lord who speaks? Yes, as the clay is in the potter's hand, so you are in mine, House of Israel"; 2 Corinthians 4: 7 "We are only earthenware jars that hold this treasure, to make it clear that such an overwhelming power comes from God and not from us"; 3 Philippians 3: 12-14 "I have not yet reached perfection, but I press on, hoping to hold of that for which Christ once took hold of me. What I do is this: forgetting what is behind and straining towards what lies ahead, I press towards the finishing line, to win the heavenly prize to which God has called me in Christ Jesus".
B. The noun formation comes from a Latin verb 'formare' which means to 'mould', 'shape' or produce a certain form. Formation is a dynamic, lifelong process that brings about transformation in the person and that affects that person's entire mode of existence, so that like St Paul he can say "it is no longer I that lives but Christ lives in me" ( Gal 2:20)
I dream of the local Church (Bishop, Clergy, Religious, Laity, Seminarians, Youth, Catechumens & children) that believes in, is convinced about, and fully committed to holistic Christian formation: that is, human, spiritual, intellectual, pastoral and integral. It is important to give greater emphasis to ongoing for-mation because it forms the bases of vocation promotion and initial formation. In fact the local Church where ongoing for¬mation does not exist has no right to receive candidates, because it means there is no prospect for new life - it is good as dead. Protagonists or agents of ongoing formation are: God, the Father, in the Son, through the Holy Spirit; each Catholic; formators; Catholic families and Parish communities. There is a need to continue to promote spiritual formation for all our people by appointing good formators, spiritual assistants, catechists, parish councils, financial committees and to empower all Catholics to play an active role to grow in their faith through days of prayer/recollections, annual retreats, regular workshops and training in leadership skills, courses of renewal and sabbaticals.
3. Animating and nurturing Christian/ Catholic vocations to Matrimony, Priesthood, Religious Life and Single life.
A. Matthew 10: 36-37 "When Jesus saw the crowds he felt sorry for them because they were harassed and dejected, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, 'the harvest is rich but the labourers are few, so ask the Lord of the harvest to send labourers to his harvest'".
B. Perfectae Caritatis 24 "Priests and Christian educators should seriously set about meeting fully the Church's need of a full increase, through religious vocations carefully and suitably screened. Even ordinary preaching should deal more frequently with the evangelical counsels and with choosing the religious state. Parents should nurture and protect religious vocations in their children by educating them in Christian virtues...”
The Diocese is increasingly experiencing a greater need for personnel as many of our priests are aging, experience poor health and retire from active ministry. The Diocesan Vocation Team must continue to create awareness and invite young people to consider catholic marriage and vocation to priestly and/ or religious life through vocations festivals and workshops at diocesan, deanery and parish levels, and make creative use of mass media to advertise vocations, mobilise prayer sessions and lead a good example of holiness.
4. Deeper and holistic Evangelisation stands out as the greatest priority of the Church in modern times.
A. Matthew 28: 19-20 "Go, therefore, make disciples of all nations; baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teach them to ob¬serve all the commands I gave you. And know that I am with you always; yes, to the end of time".
B. Evangelii Nuntiandi 18: "For the Church, evangelizing means bringing the Good News into all the strata of humanity, and through its influence transforming humanity from within and making it new".
I dream of the local Church that is highly committed to mis¬sion and evangelization. Our Diocese has flourished be¬cause it has received priests and religious missionaries from all parts of the world, Ireland, India and from the Afri¬can continent. The Church is by her nature missionary and she exists for the purpose of evangelization. The agents of evangelization are: Christian families and small Christian communities, laity, catechists, youth, religious men and women, seminarians, and the clergy. Practically all aspects of human life need to be evangelized, including the whole area of culture (inculturation) and art. Seek collaboration and solidarity in terms of personnel and resources. Prayer can be a powerful tool for evangelization, e.g. St Therese of the Child Jesus is patroness for missions, and yet she never left her monastery. Her apostolate was that of prayer. The Diocese commits itself to proper preparation and empowerment for missionaries.
5. Christian love and Solidarity: "a poor Church for the poor"
A. Matthew: 25: 40 "In truth I tell you, in so far as you did this to one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did it to me".
B. Gaudium et Spes 1: "The joy and hope, the grief and anguish of the people of our time, especially of those who are poor or afflicted in any way, are the joy and hope, the grief and anguish of the followers of Christ as well..., that is why Christians cherish a feeling of deep solidarity with the human race and its history".
C. Ecclesia in Africa 68: "Integral development - the development of every person and of the whole person, especially of the poorest and most neglected in the community - is at the very heart of evangelization.’Between evangelization and human advancement - development and liberation -there are in fact profound links...'".
It is 20 years since South Africa achieved its democratic dispensation. We thank God for the miracle of a relatively peaceful transition from the 'evils of apartheid' to a democratic system of Government. There are many achievements that have been made in the area of human rights, justice system, reconciliation, infrastructure development, new housing, basic health, education, clean water and other services. However numerous challenges still persist, such as glaring inequalities, unemployment, extreme poverty, poor standard of education, lack of decent housing, culture of violence, crime, corruption and lack of service delivery. The local Church itself is hurt and deformed by these social ills, because we cannot have 'a normal church' in an abnormal society. The Church, I believe must heighten its social awareness, become a prophetic voice for the poor and do its utmost to alleviate poverty and destitution. Through Justice, Peace and Care of Creation, faith based organizations with the collaboration of interested parties the Church needs to continue to lobby against human-trafficking, women and child abuse, fight HIV/AIDS, growing tendency of xenophobia, drug-abuse and trafficking. As Church, we need 'mission and pastoral conversion' advocated by Pope Francis so that we can become a Diocese that is not self-centred - but God-centred and biased to¬wards the poor. Like the turtle we have to 'stick out our necks, if we are to make any progress'. I would like to conclude with two quotations of Pope Francis: "It is necessary to state bluntly that there is an insepa¬rable link between our faith and the poor" (n. 48) Finally he says: "I prefer a Church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a Church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security. I do not want a Church concerned with being at the centre and which ends by being caught up in a web of obsessions and procedures" (n.49) List of Abbreviations used:
1. CCC: The Catechism of the Catholic Church.
2. GS: Gaudium et Spes, Vat II.
3. The Apostolic Exhortation of Pope Francis: "Joy of the Gospel" nos. 48 and 49.