Malawi Hosts National SCCs Workshop on the Theme “SCCs Embrace the Word of God”

By Joseph Healey and Febian Pikiti

“Small Christian Communities are very dear to my heart”…“Building Christian Communities has been a deliberate pastoral priority in the AMECEA Region”…At this workshop you are going to consider the most important aspect of our Christian life in the AMECEA Region — Small Christian Communities. I urge you to honestly evaluate how SCCs have helped to deepen the evangelizing mission in AMECEA.”

With these challenging words Archbishop Tarsizio Ziyaye, the Chairman of AMECEA and Archbishop of Lilongwe, Malawi officially open a three-day National SCCs Workshop on the theme “SCCs Embrace the Word of God” at the Bethany Centre in Lilongwe, Malawi on 17 December, 2013. The 32 participants included representatives from all eight dioceses and various national Catholic organizations including: one archbishop, 10 priests, one religious sister, 11 laymen and nine laywomen. The workshop was sponsored by the Pastoral Department of the Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM) in conjunction with the Pastoral Department of the Association of Member Episcopal Conferences in Eastern Africa (AMECEA).

It is the second in a series of national SCCs Workshops in the nine AMECEA countries. The SCCs Workshop was facilitated by Father Febian Pikiti and Father Joseph Healey, MM.

In the spirit of “learning by doing” participants formed four SCCs (St. Monica, St. Maria Goretti, St. Jude Thaddeus and St. Peter the Apostle) for four separate sessions:

  • Discussion on the challenges facing SCCs in Malawi under four headings: “General;” “Process of Conducting SCCs Meetings,” “Pastoral Leadership” and “Youth and Children in SCCs.”
  •  Lectionary-based faith sharing on the Gospel of the following 4th Sunday of Advent (Matthew 1: 18-24);
  •   Using the SEE – JUDGE –ACT reflection method/process on topics in the general society in Malawi: “Corruption (two SCCs),” “Environmental Degradation,” and “Poverty”). In the Catholic Church in Malawi: “Children Not Taking Part in SCCs,” “The Gap Between the Rich and the Poor in SCCs,” “Poor Leadership in SCCs” and “Shallow Faith.”
  •  Discussion on “Recommendations and the Way Forward.”

Highlights included two SCCs Masses with plenty of participation, Bible Reflection and faith sharing; a session on “The Importance of the Social Media in SCCs” including an online presentation of the Small Christian Communities Global Collaborative Website and “Facebook Page” (www. smallchristiancommunities.org) and participants demonstrating their own websites and Facebook Pages in Malawi; and an African DVD, 50 Years of AMECEA, that is a preview of the AMECEA Plenary Meeting to take place in Lilongwe, Malawi in July, 2014.

Recommendations included:

    • Promotion of “Pastoral Guidelines” for the orientation, training and formation of all pastoral agents in Malawi on the meaning, value and mission of SCCs as a new way of being church.
    • To encourage ongoing formation and training for leaders of SCCs at parish level in order to promote creative skills for animating meetings of SCCs.
    • To propose ways of encouraging men, youth and children to actively participate in the life and activities of SCCs.
    • Appeal to bishops, priests, religious and other pastoral agents in Malawi to regularly visit SCCs, know what is happening and be more involved in the promotion of useful resource materials for animating SCCs.

Follow-up action has started that includes downloading the free Ebook on “SCCs in Africa” with its 20 “Resource Materials on On-going Formation and Training of SCC Members” into computers and flash drives for use throughout Malawi.

An enduring symbol of the workshop was the Opening Song. All the participants joined hands and sang “Bind Us Together, Lord” – the theme song of SCCs around the world.

 

 

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