By Joseph G. Healey, MM
“Action Plans” and “Implementation Steps” were the highlights of a “One-day Small Christian Communities (SCCs) Pastoral Solutions Workshop” in Swahili at Immaculate Conception Parish, Mavurunza in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania on Saturday, 1 September, 2018.
82 lay people from the 54 SCCs in the parish participated in the lively workshop (not a seminar) facilitated by Sister Rita Ishengoma, STH and Father Joseph Healey, MM, members of the AMECEA Small Christian Communities (SCCs) Training Team together with Tanzanian Augustinian priest Father Zakaria Kashinje, OSA.
A high point was the active participation of young people. There were 19 young people from the 16-29 age range (suggested by Pope Francis for the Youth Synod in Rome in October, 2018). Four young people in their 20s (two young women and two young men) joined the Facilitators Table in coordinating the workshop. One concrete proposal was to start Small Faith Sharing Communities/Small Bible Reflection Communities specifically for young people during the weekly meetings of the Vijana Wafanyakazi Wakatoliki (VIWAWA) — Swahili for Young Catholic Workers of Tanzania. Key is that the young people themselves take ownership and initiative of this important pastoral activity.
It was pointed out that on the SCCs Website (http://smallchristiancommunities.org) the Poll for September–October, 2018 on “The best part of my Small Christian Community is … one choice is “Emerging paradigm of youth empowerment in Africa.” The new AMECEA Region (nine countries in Eastern Africa) bookmark called “Celebrating Young People Small Christian Communities (YPSCCs) in Eastern Africa” was given to the young people at the workshop.
As part of explaining how the SCC Model of Church is a new way of being/becoming church, all the participants used the name Mwanajumuiya (Swahili for a “member of a SCC”). This reinforced the pastoral priority that SCCs have a new structure, a new mentality, and a new vocabulary.
The process of the workshop came from the Second Edition of:
Chimombo, Emmanuel, Joseph G. Healey, Rita Ishengoma, Rose Musimba, Febian P.
Mulenga and Alphonce C. L. Omolo, (eds.), Strengthening the Growth of Small
Christian Communities in Africa — A Training Handbook for Facilitators, Nairobi:
AMECEA Pastoral Department and Nairobi: Paulines Publications Africa, 2018.
1. At the beginning of the workshop participants identified the 14 most important obstacles (vikwazo in Swahili)/barriers/problems/difficulties/challenges in the growth of SCCs in the parish.
2. They ranked the greatest four obstacles as follows:
a. Little faith (51 votes).
b. Laziness (50 votes).
c. Many collections (31 votes). A popular complaint in Tanzania is about the “Michango Church” – the Catholic Church of many financial collections.
d. Parents of Different Faiths (22 votes).
3. Participants formed four small communities to discuss practical, pastoral solutions to overcome these four obstacles — what we call the medicine (dawa in Swahili) to cure these problems.
4. The practical, pastoral solutions and the Implementation Steps were discussed at length in Plenary Session.
Members of the St. Nicholas of Tarentino SCC in St. Alipius Outstation performed a Demonstration/Role Play of a typical meeting in a SCC that reflects on the Gospel of the following Sunday. This was discussed and evaluated in Plenary Session with one main purpose: how can we make our weekly SCC meetings better.
As of September, 2018 Dar es Salaam Archdiocese has approximately 5,555 SCCs in its 111 parishes (based on 50 SCCs each in the 111 parishes). The number is higher if you include the SCCs in schools. This is one of the leading dioceses in the AMECEA Region. Tanzania alone has over 65,000 SCCs.
Rev. Joseph G. Healey, MM
P.O. Box 43058
00100 Nairobi, Kenya
0723-362-993 (Safaricom, Kenya)
973-216-4997 (AT&T, USA)