Archbishop Dabula Mpako: Time will Reveal a Plan for Pretoria
The new archbishop of Pretoria has said that his vision for the archdiocese’s future will be formed by his engagement with priests and laity.
Archbishop Dabula Mpako, the former bishop of Queenstown who was installed as head of Pretoria archdiocese at the church of the Beatitudes in Zwavelpoort, said that he is aware that there is an expectation of him to announce his vision, but he will have to engage with the people so that together they can reflect on what is happening. A vision will have to emerge from there.
The archdiocese of Pretoria is now entering “a new phase in its life and in its evolution as a community of faith”, Archbishop Mpako said.
“This is an era in which we are invited to renew and personally appropriate again our vision of who we are called to be as a Church and of what we are called upon to do in carrying out our mission in the present time,” he said.
“As a Church, we are today’s house of God which is intended to be a house of prayer for all the people. So let us, therefore, commit ourselves as the local Church to be the envisaged house of God.”
Archbishop Mpako called on all the faithful to aspire to be a local Church where everyone feels included, valued, and at home, and to ensure that no-one feels like a foreigner or outcast.
“Let us all have a strong sense of belonging to and of ownership of our archdiocese. Let us keep in mind the words repeated often by Pope Francis, that ‘the Church is not a museum of saints, but a hospital for sinners’,” he said.
The archbishop noted that such a sense of belonging and ownership should naturally bring the faithful to experience themselves as one body—the Body of Christ. Such an understanding calls for the development of certain attitudes and dispositions as Catholics.
“Firstly, these have to do with how we relate to one another within the Church. St Paul says to be completely humble, and gentle. Let us strive to make our local Church such a community,” Archbishop Mpako said.
Secondly, he said, “we are to take personal responsibility for the building up of our Church”, willingly and generously building up the temple of God.
The archbishop urged the people of his archdiocese to outgrow the approach of seeing the Church only as some kind of spiritual supermarket where they shop for spiritual goods to meet their spiritual needs, or as some kind of charitable organisation where they have their material needs met.
“This is evident on Sundays when people come to church just to fulfil an obligation, not even waiting for the final blessing” at the end of Mass.
“Let our approach not be, ‘what we can get from the Church’, but rather one of ‘what we can contribute as a living member’,” Archbishop Mpako said.
He reminded the congregation of what their mission as a Church is supposed to be in relation to the world.
“Our calling is not just to be a welcoming Church where everyone feels at home and valued, nor is our calling just to build up the Church community through the use of the different gifts you have been given. Rather our mission is to be, to the world, a sacrament of God’s saving and life-giving presence.”
Archbishop Mpako, who will turn 60 on September 6, succeeded Archbishop William Slattery OFM, who had served as the archdiocese’s head since 2010.
He is the fifth ordinary of Pretoria since it was erected as a vicariate in 1948 (and archdiocese as of 1951), succeeding Archbishops John Garner (1948-75), George Daniel (1975-2008), Paul Mandla Khumalo CMM (2008-09) and Slattery.
The Pretoria archdiocese serves about 240000 Catholics in 67 parishes.