From 28th March to 4th April, a workshop on Ecumenical Dialogue was organised in Rome by Andreas Göpfert, coordinator of JPIC-ED. The participants to the workshop were:
- Richard Nnyombi, JPIC-ED coordinator for the sector Uganda (EAP)
- Frans Bouwen, JPIC-ED coordinator for the sector Jerusalem (EPO)
- Paul Relly, JPIC-ED for the sector Ethiopia (EPO)
- Babaine Venerato, Provincial delegate for the sector Zambia (SAP)
- Bernhard Udelhoven, from Fenza (SAP)
- Maria Joseph Leo Laurence, in formation at St. Anselme (Rome)
- Ignatius Anipu, assistant in charge of ED (Generalate Rome)
- Martin Grenier, assistant in charge of JPIC (Generalate Rome)
- Andreas Göpfert, coordinator of JPIC-ED
Beginning of the session
After the introductory prayer led by Martin Grenier (assistant general in charge of JPIC), the first day of our workshop was officially opened by Ignatius Anipu (assistant general in charge of Encounter and Dialogue – Ecumenism). In his opening speech, Ignatius invited the participants and all the missionaries of Africa to be active actors of ecumenism in their missionary activities. Linking the present workshop to the 150 years of the foundation of the society, Ignatius pointed out the fact that ecumenism has always been part of our charism since the lifetime of our founder Lavigerie.
Andreas Göpfert, coordinator of JPIC-ED, presented the timetable of the session and the methodology which is based on SEE, JUDGE and ACT. He explained the workshop objective ‘Undertake a process which aims to deepen our ecumenical orientation and to integrate it into our missionary commitments for the care for our common home, peace, and social cohesion’. He insisted on the interconnectedness of all those topics.
"SEE": Ecumenical commitment of M.Afr – past and present
Frans Bouwen started off a series of presentations regarding the M.Afr and its ecumenical commitment past and present with his talk on St. Anne’s in Jerusalem as the first concrete M.Afr. commitment to ecumenism. This presentation helped the participants situate themselves into the historical context of Cardinal Lavigerie and the ecumenical activities of the Society in the Middle East and with the Eastern Churches.
A second presentation, given by Richard Nnyombi, focused on the evangelization of Uganda and helped the participants see that the first confreres who arrived in central Africa did so in a context of inter-religious dialogue and competition among different Christian churches. Despite conflicts which took place between Catholics and Protestants, there have been as well fruitful examples of collaboration as well as the poignant example of ‘ecumenism of blood’ as both Catholics and Anglicans martyrs were united in suffering for their faith in Christ.
Ignatius Anipu offered the participants an overview of how the most recent General Chapters of the M.Afr. treated the subject of ecumenism. All were interested to learn that much more has been said about our M.Afr. commitment to ecumenism in the chapters than we previously thought. This gave rise to the question: do we take the content of our chapters seriously?
Andreas Göpfert, JPIC-ED Coordinator of the Society, provided a summary of the ecumenical activities in which our confreres are involved throughout the world. He urged us all to consider how we can integrate an ecumenical dimension into each one of our M.Afr. apostolates.