4 – 6 November 1996
It was a privilege to host this meeting in South Africa from November 4 to 6, 1996 and to meet and have discussion with our brothers and sisters from Botswana, Eritrea, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The meeting was chaired by Mark Nimo of Ghana, the ICCRS representative for Anglophone Africa. Also present was an observer from Zaire. Our special guest was Sr. Nancy Kellar who taught on “Stirring Up the Charisms” and also gave input on the ICCRS structure.
In his opening address Mark Nimo said we had met to pray, encourage one another in ministry, and dialogue and share our experiences in the promotion and exercise of the charisms of the Holy Spirit.
The two Scripture readings which were used to open the meeting were Ephesians 3:14-21 and Isaiah 42: 6-9. It is felt that these two Scriptures have a special message for us in Africa at this time. Sr. Nancy said that the reading from Ephesians is currently being given to the Renewal worldwide.
Ephesians 3: 14-21 reads: “For this reason I fall on my knees before the Father, from whom every family in Heaven and on earth receives its true name. I ask God from the wealth of His glory to give you power through His spirit to be strong in your inner selves, and I pray that Christ will make His name in your hearts through faith. I pray that you may have your roots and foundation in love, so that you, together with all God’s people, may have the power to understand how broad and long, how high and deep, is Christ’s love. Yes may you come to know His love – although it can never be fully known – and so be completely filled with the very nature of God. To Him who by means of His power working in us is able to do so much more than we can ever ask for, or even think of: to God be the glory in the Church and in Christ Jesus for all time, forever and ever! Amen”.
In his opening address Mark Nimo said: “Almost four years ago in Uganda, a seed was sown, as key leaders in the sub-region of East, Central and Southern Africa came together. I pay special tribute here to Fr. Ernst Sievers of Uganda and Br. Donat Muller of Tanzania, who were major architects in the birth of this vision. Hitherto, it was more common to find African leaders meeting in Rome, rather than on the continent of Africa itself. I would wish to mention here also my predecessor, Dr. Pius Okong, of Uganda, who also contributed immensely to this effort of getting African leaders together on the continental level. Today we are witnesses to a seed that has germinated. We give praise and thanks to God for making it possible for us to meet. The years ahead will call on all of us to water this young plant, weed around it, prune its branches and provide the conditions necessary for its growth”.
It was very encouraging to experience the warm welcome extended by Bishop Orsmond of Johannesburg during his homily on Tuesday. He warned against the evil. He encouraged us to move forward and live in the fullness of the Spirit.
From the reports given it was noted that most of the regions are struggling, with the exception of Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania. It was noted that countries where priests are working full-time in the Renewal are experiencing much growth, i.e. Uganda and Tanzania. These two countries are leading the way with full programs, Community centers and Schools of Evangelization. Extensive outreach work is also done and Parish missions undertaken. Newsletters and magazines are being produced. Eritrea has only one priest involved, but is also doing well, and the Renewal has produced music tapes. This music is having an impact on most parishes. In spite of Uganda being so rural the people work for miles to attend a Day of the Renewal/Crusade which lasts all day. About 3000 people attend prayer meetings. In remote villages, when the Word is preached the Holy Spirit is moving in a powerful way.
I feel that in South Africa we will be helping Lesotho, Botswana and Zimbabwe. One of the needs identified is leadership formation, and courses after the Life in the Spirit Seminars. Sr. Nancy has made available a leaflet promoting various formation courses available from Chariscenter US.
A communique was prepared, in which a humble plea was expressed to clergy and religious to shepherd the Renewal in the Church as the Pope urged them to do. It closed by stating, “Fully confident of the help and guidance of God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, with the intercession of Mary, Mother of the Church and Star of Evangelization, we embrace the call for a new evangelization in ICCRS events, a bibliography on CCR, and many other things.
As you can easily gather from the above, God’s blessing on CCR is abundant. And ICCRS is called to play an increasingly leading role not only within CCR, but also vis-à-vis the institutional Church and particularly through its relationships with the Pontifical Council for the Laity and the other Vatican Dicasteries.
The Lord’s will seems to be clear – to enable ICCRS to continue to work better and better following the Holy Spirit’s guidance. Therefore not only do I wish to call for everyone’s help, but I also think such help is necessary for ICCRS to successfully meet all the needs stemming from the mission it has received from God.
By Oreste Pesare
Taken from the ICCRS Newsletter, May-June 1997