SOUTH-CENTRAL AFRICA FOUNDATION (SCAF)
Fr. John Louis Dimba, CSSp
South-Central Africa Foundation is made up of six circumscriptions, namely: Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia International groups, Zimbabwe and Southern Africa districts and the South-Central Africa foundation.
Each one of the circumscriptions has a superior and a council. The superior of SCAF is elected by the SCAF Chapter whose delegates are the superiors of the aforementioned circumscriptions and all delegates from formation houses, and members of SCAF by origin.
SCAF is basically a formation structure and an initiative of the General administration and five circumscriptions of Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Zambia and South Africa. These circumscriptions are the sources of vocations for SCAF. Each circumscription except for Mozambique, at least at the mean time, has a postulancy and a mechanism for vocation animation. The objective of SCAF is to become a province given the numbers of its members by origin, its mission and stability of structures.
1. The Vision of SCAF
The Spiritans of the South-Central African Foundation wish to communicate the Good News of Jesus Christ to peoples of this region by living and working among them in community. We wish, through this communication of the Good News, to generate Christian communities in which the poor, the ill, and all who suffer, are cared for, and where there is a reaching out to the excluded. Our unity tries to symbolise the communication we seek to bring about among people. In this we work closely with the local Church and all people of good will who accept our collaboration (SCAF chapter, Dec. 2003)
2. The Mission of SCAF
SCAF commits itself to apostolic works (SRL 156) within the five circumscriptions of the Foundation, particularly works near our houses of formation. We see our mission and formation as being closely related to each other.
SCAF also seeks to nurture solidarity and collaboration in ministry between the Foundation and the five circumscriptions. We willingly accept tasks for which the Church has difficulty for finding workers (SRL 4).
At its second Chapter in December 2006 SCAF took the decision of working towards the establishment of Missions ad intra and ad extra while keeping in mind that the mission ad intra falls under the jurisdiction of the local superior of the circumscription in which it is situated. As far as mission ad extra is concerned, SCAF and the five other circumscriptions are working towards a joint venture, with the help of the Generate, to establish mission in Botswana (SCAF chapter, Dec. 2006).
3. Formation in SCAF
Formation work in SCAF is indeed vibrant and looking so much into the future. So far, our efforts in vocation and formation ministry have already given us eight priests and a deacon. One of the eight ordained confreres was elected by the second SCAF chapter as the SCAF superior. We have sent others for mission ad intra to Zimbabwe, Malawi and South Africa and ad extra, to East African Foundation and we have one already lecturing in Mission Theology in Harare (Zimbabwe) after having served his first appointment in Malawi.
In our formation houses we see a steady flow of vocations, thanks to the founding circumscriptions of SCAF, the Generalate and many other circumscriptions that are helping us with personnel and material support. SCAF is really set for a promising future as a Spiritan Province in Southern Africa. We have formation policies and structures put in place and, despite many challenges, a full formation programme that includes novitiate, First and Second Cycles is satisfactorily in operation.
It is done in the Diocese of Bethlehem in South Africa. Our novitiate house is called Glen-Ash. This year's in-take started its programme on 28 th July, 2007 and we have 5 of them. Added to the five we have 3 priests who accompany them; two Germans and a Tanzanian.
This is a three year programme of philosophical studies undertaken at Balaka in Malawi at an Inter-Congregation Seminary. We had 29 Spiritan philosophy students last school year. However, as from October 2 nd , 2007 we will have 32 of them. There are 3 priests accompanying them. All three are also lecturers at the consortium while one of them is the rector of the consortium for a period of 3 years with effect from last year. Two of the formators are Tanzanians while the other is Nigerian.
Our second-cycle confreres are doing their theological studies in Harare-Zimbabwe. We had 16 students last school year and this year we also have 16. There are two priests accompanying them. The two formators are also lecturing at the consortium. One of the formators is Malawian and the other is Irish.
d) Lay associates/Brothers and Self-reliance
SCAF is seriously exploring means for initiating lay people into the life and spirituality of the Spiritan family, activities for self-reliance and re-invigorating the promotion of vocation to brotherhood. There are so far encouraging signs about all this. We have some lay people contributing towards travel expenses for the Superior, we are doing small scale gardening in our houses of formation, many have expressed the need to be lay associates and we have young men expressing a great desire to join the congregation as brothers.
5. Our Challenges
Our biggest challenge for theology students is that we do not yet have a Spiritan residence for second-cycle. We are presently renting accommodation at a Jesuit Centre where we pay 9 USD per student per day. However, we hope that the situation will improve once we complete the construction of our residence which is at a foundation level. Now we are busy applying for funds from different corners so that we can finish this project. We need about 280,000 USD.
Southern Africa enjoys relative peace except that in Zimbabwe we are really faced with a socio-economic and political situation that makes living quite hard for our confers there. On the other hand we cannot ignore the rampage caused by HIV/AIDS Pandemic as well as Malaria.
Mozambique is slowly emerging from the three decade wars that had left it completely impoverished with infrastructure almost non-existent and thus making communication by road in most cases very difficult. Confreres there are working hard and they are earnestly seeking to establish a structure for vocation animation.
Zambia and Malawi are two countries that for a long, long time, since independence, have enjoyed peace and calm although poverty too abounds. The two countries have been the most steady sources of vocations in SCAF. To date Zambia already has five ordained confreres and Malawi has three with a number of temporary professed from both countries.
South Africa, as we all know, is just a decade away from Apartheid. Wounds and scars caused by Apartheid are still visible and felt and, although initially South Africa was promising in the number of candidates in the late eighties and early nineties, and despite the efforts made by confreres in the district of South Africa, we scarcely have vocations. One young South African confrere will soon finish his second cycle and yet another will, this year, enter second year of Philosophy.
6. Our Reflections
Points of reflections that are presently pressing on members of SCAF and its council are many indeed and these would include:
Our wonder as to how do we really go about praying for vocations and recruiting them into the Spiritan family when resources for training them are but rare or non-existent.
Our wonder about the future of our project of a theology house in Zimbabwe as considered in the light of the centralisation of the second-cycle.
Our wonder about the nature that SCAF will assume in due course because of its size and multiplicity of cultures the number of nationalities and most especially if this is looked at from the point of view of what the General administration has suggested for EAP.
Our wonder if the consolidation of the international groups and the two districts in the region through further appointment of confreres to them would encourage the unity and concerted effort that SCAF aims at or, this would only discourage it. One would think of a possibility of The General administration sending all new appointments into SCAF in view of strengthening Spiritan presence in the international groups and Districts.
The problem of personnel is longstanding but we believe that the General administration will help us think on how we can best train members of SCAF by origin in order to help alleviate, somewhat, this problem.
We hope this gives you some picture of our situation. We sincerely thank the General administration and all the founding circumscriptions of SCAF for their help, zeal and love for SCAF and the Congregation of the Holy Spirit.
Sincerely yours in Christ,