By Fr. Limukani Ndlovu
The Archbishop of Bulawayo, Alex Thomas on 21 September commissioned twenty-three newly graduated catechists. The group consisted of twenty-four in total although one student joined the class as a Theological College of Zimbabwe (TCZ) intern student attached to the Pastoral Centre for the sole reason of learning about the Catholic Church. Therefore Pastor Zebedia Mavuna was grateful to be warmly welcomed and certified by the Pastoral Centre “the school of faith” in the spirit of ecumenism and motivated by what Robert Malunda called “the highway of synodality”.
During the Eucharistic celebration of the Feast of St. Matthew, the archbishop linked the day’s scripture readings with the occasion of the calling and ministry of catechists in the Archdiocese of Bulawayo. Affirming the catechists, the archbishop acknowledged that God does not look at the appearance of a person but one’s dedication and commitment. Levi (Matthew) became a follower of Christ after he experienced the love of Christ although some of his contemporaries disliked him as a tax collector.
“As catechists you are called to bring God’s love and mercy to all, without discrimination. You are sent as ones chosen by God and your respective communities”.
The Archbishop encouraged catechists to work hard and to avoid segregating people since the Church is everyone’s home for salvation. He urged catechists to walk in a manner worthy of their calling (cf. Eph 4:1) and stressed that since a catechist is a people’s person, they need to exercise patients, humility and foster team work.
“As a messenger of Christ a catechist is a servant of Christ and the Church and needs to love the Church. A catechist is a sign of the kingdom of God… a companion on the way to heaven therefore, the need to plead with others to walk in the way of the Lord” said the Archbishop.
Furthermore, Archbishop Alex challenged the graduate catechists to appreciate the gifts God has given them and use them for the kingdom of God and for building the body of Christ. The Archbishop explained that being a catechist was a humbling experience of bringing Christ to the people and of letting others see a good example in oneself.
Rev. Fr. Brian Kandlela, who is also the Rector of St. Bernard’s Minor Seminary, thanked the Archbishop, the teaching and non-teaching staff of the Pastoral Centre for supporting the catechists’ formation program. He thanked the parishes and families of the catechists for their support shown by either recommending or financially providing scholarship for the catechists to embark in the training program.
Fr. Kandlela exhorted the catechists saying, “This is God’s work. You need to love God and to know that learning has no limit. Learn from others, especially your catechumens. Being a catechist is a vocation and not a profession. You are commissioned to go and work in the vineyard of the lord and teach with humility. The way you behave will attract others to the Lord.”
In his congratulatory message, the archbishop hinted that next year’s pastoral focus will be on fostering the spirit of co-responsibility in which the Catholic faithful will be encouraged to work together and to encourage each other.
“Blaming each other should be the last thing in the Church. Being co-responsible is to encourage each other to work with an open heart and open mind in serving God and his people,” said the Archbishop.