Leaders from the Salvatorian administrative units of Africa have gathered at the Salvatorian Mission Procura House, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania for their first ever Continental Leadership Meeting. They have come from Tanzania, Congo, Cameroon, and Mozambique. They have been joined by the members of the Generalate. The house, located in Kurasini, is the scene of deep reflection and significant dialogue about Salvatorian identity, mission and formation in the African context. The 20 participants will meet for eight intensive days. They are being aided by simultaneous translation primarily in French and English along with Portuguese as needed.
Called to be Apostles in a Changing World
Salvatorian Continental Leadership Meeting
AFRICA (Dar es Salaam - Tanzania) – September/2014
General Objective: To promote the reflection and discussion in a concrete way on Salvatorian Identity, Mission and Formation in the respective continental contexts, in order to help the local leadership develop ideas and point them in the direction to achieve concrete decisions as well as to reflect on other issues raised during the XVIII General Chapter 2012.
This morning, Fr. Milton led the participants in a morning of recollection reflecting on the role of St. John the Baptist as a model of our Salvatorian charism and identity. In particular a Salvatorian, is not the Messiah but a voice, which proclaims salvation. In other words, “…our identity [is] to make known in all situations, on all occasions that, in Jesus Christ, God came to save everyone without excluding anyone.” This requires that we have a personal experience of salvation born of an intimate relationship with Jesus that grows through our daily meditation on, prayer with and proclamation of the Gospel. In the afternoon sessions, Fr. Agustín Van Baelen, General Mission Secretary, related this notion to the Founder’s call and the expansion of the Salvatorian Mission throughout the world.
The participants gathered in Tanzania spent the morning considering issues related to financing the Salvatorian mission. Much of the money raised through the Salvatorian Office for International Aid (SOFIA) is provided to the African units for the purpose of specific projects. As a result, Dr. Arnout Mertens, director of SOFIA, explained how this money is raised and distributed as well as the growing challenges facing the Society in this regard. In the afternoon the participants were encouraged to celebrate the Salvatorian Missionary Year 2015. Also, Fr. Agustin led them in a consideration of questions on restructuring that apply to the sharing of human and financial resources among the African units.
The participants celebrated an early Mass together before leaving by bus to Bagamoyo Town. There they visited the site where Catholic missionaries introduced Christianity to a predominantly Muslim area in the 1860s. The missionaries worked fervently against the slave trade and were able to ransom many, eventually helping to abolish the practice. On the way back to Kurasini, they stopped at the Salvatorian parish, Mary Mother of the Savior in Sinza and then returned to the Mission Procura House tired but happy with the day.
The Continental Meeting for Africa reached the halfway point today as the participants engaged the topic of Salvatorian Formation. After Fr. Raúl Gómez gave an introduction to the processes of the day, the participants worked in groups to identify what is required in the African context for a unified initial formation program. There was a lively exchange of ideas and much to ponder.
This day was filled with a variety of topics from ongoing formation to vocation promotion to establishing Lay Salvatorians and collaborating with the other branches of the Salvatorian Family. The day also included information on the Veneration and Beatification of the Founder. Presenters included Fr. Raúl Gómez, Fr. Chris Kowalczyk, Fr. Thomas Malal and Fr. Milton Zonta, respectively. The day’s sessions ended with information from Fr. Chris on the new website and email systems.
The participants in the Continental Meeting dealt with a variety of topics today. They received information on the Spirituality Encounter scheduled for 2015 as well as about the Society’s efforts in Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation (JPIC) and Safeguarding. In addition, Fr. Agustin Van Baelen presented a plan for the establishment of a foundation in Kenya and Fr. Raul Gomez presented a proposal for unified formation in the African units. The participants gave positive feedback and encouraged the Generalate members to move forward.
The Continental Meeting of Africa ended with Fr. Milton’s closing remarks of gratitude for the warm welcome and hospitality of our hosts of the Tanzanian Pro Province and the active participation of all in attendance. In addition he presented the participants with a lapel pin of the Society’s emblem asking that the superiors of the units give this to all our confreres in vows and to novices when they profess first vows. Afterwards, we were honored to have Fr. Andrew Urbanski SDS, our former Superior General, as the presider and homilist at the closing Eucharist. The evaluation of the meeting by the participants was very positive, asking that these types of meetings continue in the future.