I was invited to Harare (Zimbabwe) to attend the meeting of the “Standing committee” of IMBISA (if you look carefully you might see my face somehow hiding behind two of the bishops).
The idea was to consider the possibility of giving a hand in a specific area of our organization. It also gave me the chance to be with them for a couple of days as they met for the first time since their election last November in Lesotho.
The meeting was held at the “IMBISA house” which is the residence of Fr Claudio Dos Reis (Mozambique) the present director. It was big enough to accommodate all of us and gave a very familiar spirit during the time we spent together.
Four of the present members already served in the former committee and probably one or two were part of past committees. The rest are new. In any case, it became clear to Bishop Lucio Muandula (IMBISA president) that the first thing needed was to spend some time to know each other better as they will be working together until the next plenary session in 2019. As Archbishop Lerothlodi said: “No story is like your story”
There was also time to evaluate the last plenary in Lesotho. There were great memories in the hearts of each one of us. Particularly the final Mass with so many people which gave a sense that our organization was really part of the lives. The people of the country had been fully involved both in the preparation and the celebration of the plenary session. It was probably the biggest ecclesial event since John Paul II visit in 1988.
We also remembered the rain at the end of the Mass that cut the speeches short and made all of us look for a place where to take refuge!
The most important thing now is to make sure that the conclusions and commitments taken by each episcopal conference are implemented and deepened. The theme:
“Empowering the laity for effective engagement in socio political and environmental issues: ‘Laudato Si’ as a point of reference.”
would certainly continue to lead our journey in the next two years.
The new standing committee heard the reports of the IMBISA director together with the ones of the financial and social departments. New bishops were appointed to lead these ones and the theological and pastoral one.
Having heard a picture of the past and present, the next step would be to discern a “strategic plan” for the next two and a half years. God willing, it will be done at the coming meetings of July and October.
Bishop José Luis IMC
Diocese of Manzini (Swaziland)