English Africa Service – Vatican City
The celebrations will take place in Kampala, Uganda from 20 to 29 July 2019. The theme of the celebrations and plenary assembly is, “Church-Family of God in Africa, Celebrate Your Jubilee! Proclaim Jesus Christ Your Saviour.”
Nigerian Bishop of Oyo Diocese, Emmanuel Badejo who is also President of CEPACS has told Vatican News that the golden jubilee celebrations will host 300 participants. These include representatives from the Vatican, Cardinals, Bishops, priests representatives of religious congregations, the lay faithful, Catholic media and other dignitaries.
Known by its French acronym, CEPACS is the Comité Episcopal Panafricain pour les Communications Sociales or its English equivalent - Pan-African Episcopal Committee for Social Communications. It is one of the committees of the continental body of Catholic Bishops known as SECAM which itself stands for Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar.
SECAM has its headquarters in Accra, Ghana. Pope Saint Paul VI inaugurated the association in 1969 when he visited Uganda.
The Kampala document 2019
The plenary will deliberate on how far the Church in Africa has come in its evangelising mission. Questions the Bishops are asking themselves include introspecton on new pastoral priorities for the Church in Africa. Discussions of the assembly will also lead to the finalisation of a document to be known as the “Kampala Document.” This is a pastoral document which will review the journey of SECAM and give direction on where the Church in Africa should be in the next fifty years, in terms of pastoral priorities.
Ten thousand copies of the document will be published in the three official languages of SECAM: English, French and Portuguese and will accessible on the SECAM website (www.secam.org) for easy download.
Celebrations at the Uganda Martyrs Shrine
The climax of the SECAM assembly will be a solemn Mass at the Uganda Martyrs Shrine, Namugongo, Kampala, on Sunday, 28 July 2019. Various dioceses, parishes and Small Christian communities across Africa and the Islands are expected to participate in the liturgy.
SECAM was born out of the desire of the African Bishops who attended the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), to establish a forum from which the Church in Africa could speak with one voice on matters pertaining to the local and the universal Church.
Pope St Paul VI inaugurated SECAM in 1969
The idea was concretised in July 1969, during the visit of Pope Paul VI to Kampala (Uganda); being the first time a Pope was visiting sub-Saharan Africa. The African Bishops saw it as a fitting occasion to launch the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar.
Fifty years later, on 29 July 2018, SECAM launched the start of the SECAM Golden Jubilee Celebration Year on the theme, “Church-family of God in Africa, Celebrate your Jubilee! Proclaim Jesus Christ, your Saviour.”
Speaking about the year-long preparations, Bishop Badejo said, “It was a deliberate decision to have an entire year of prayerful preparations from July 2018 to July 2019. The year has thus been a period of thanksgiving of the progress made, repentance, conversion, reconciliation and a renewal of commitment to witnessing to Christ in Africa, Madagascar and the Islands,” he said.
A future for a Church on Mission
As the Church in Africa enters another phase, Bishop Badejo invites the faithful to familiarise themselves with this association of Bishops.
"Every Christian, all Church institutions in Africa and Madagascar are invited to seek information about the functioning of SECAM and take an interest in its coordinating effort for the Church on the continent.”