Learning What the Church Does
By Fr Paul Tatu CSS – A visit to the headquarters of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC) was an eye-opener for many seminarians at St John Vianney Seminary in Pretoria
“Many Catholics are not familiar with the structure of the Church and what the local Church is doing daily, said SACBC associate secretary-general Fr Patrick Rakeketsi CSS. This is also true of many seminarians, he said.
A group of 14 first-year theology seminarians visited Khanya House, the SACBC’s Pretoria head office, to be introduced to the structure of the Church as well as the projects being undertaken by the bishops’ conference.
“Despite being fully armed with the teachings of the Church and what is expected from them when they complete the seminary [training] and become priests, many priests have gone through their initial formation in the seminary without being aware of what is really taking place at the heart of the local Church,” Fr Rakeketsi explained.
It was only recently that the leadership of the local Church, together with the formation teams of the seminary, arranged to help the seminarians get a fuller picture about the institution they will be working for.
The initiative will also assist them to evaluate their skills and choice of specialisation so that they can contribute effectively to the mission of the Church.
Fr Rakeketsi gave the seminarians an orientation about the structure of the Church, the responsibility of different SACBC departments, and special programmes the Church is presently undertaking.
They were also briefed about the work of different associate bodies and commissions which operate under six SACBC departments not located in Khanya House.
The visiting seminarians also joined staff members of Khanya House for Mass.
In his homily, Fr Rakeketsi called on the seminarians to promote peace and calm in the country, as mandated by St Paul in his letter to Timothy.
“As ministers of the word of God, you are to help people to live a life of peace and calm. It is not a mission only reserved for priests but for everybody,” he said.
After Mass, the seminarians had opportunity to socialise the staff members, to find out more about their work for the local Church.