A festive celebration of the Holy Mass took place on Sunday 21st July in the Catholic Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, Lubaga, in Kampala, Uganda, to kick-start the week-long activities to mark the Golden Jubilee of the inauguration of the Symposium of the Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM). The opening Mass concelebrated by Cardinals, the Apostolic Nuncio to Uganda, Bishops and priests was attended by the President of Uganda, His Excellency, Yoweri Museveni, some of his ministers and a huge number of other lay faithful. The liturgical singing and dancing was electrifying, even as it was solemn and inspiring. 
SECAM was “established to enable the Bishops and all of the faithful to work in solidarity and collegiality at the Pan African level to promote the Catholic Church’s participation in education, spiritual, medical, social and economic development of the continent “.

SECAM was inaugurated on the 31st of July , 1969, by the Holy Father, now St. Pope Paul V1 in the same Sacred Heart Cathedral in Kampala, during the first ever visit of a Pope to Africa south of the Sahara.

About three hundred delegates including Cardinals, Archbishops, Bishops, priests, representatives of lay men and women from all parts of Africa and Madagascar are participating in the event from the 20th to the 29th of July, 2019.

The theme of the conference is “Church-Family of God in Africa, Celebrate your Jubilee! Proclaim Jesus Christ your Saviour”.

Some sub themes to be discussed include: Globalization and Ecological Challenges; Socio-Cultural, Political and Economic Challenges; Evangeiization; Possibilities for Missionary Activity in Today’s Africa; New Mentalities, New Spiritualities, New Pastoral Strategies, etc.

In all my participation at events of the Catholic Bishops on the regional and continental levels in Africa, I have witnessed and experienced the warm hospitality and generosity of our hosting nations. This was the case in Ivory Coast, Angola, Burkina Faso, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Cape Verde, Ghana, Nigeria, Gambia, SierraLeone, etc., where the civil authorities kindly facilitated some logistics and provided adequate security for the period of our stay.

The Regional Episcopal Conference of West Africa (RECOWA) has already decided to host the 4th plenary meeting in Abuja in 2022, when by God’s Grace my second tenure as RECOWA President will end. Signs are that SECAM may also be thinking of approaching Nigeria to host the next SECAM plenary Assembly! We wait and see.

We pray that our Nigerian civil authorities will give the Catholic Bishops of Nigeria the same support and cooperation as has been given elsewhere by hosting nations, so that we can host the events in Nigeria with unparalleled success; in the same manner that Alhaji Shehu Shagari welcomed and hosted Pope John Paul II in 1982 and General Sani Abacha welcomed the same Pope again with great generosity and cordiality in 1998.

Kindly pray the Lord to bring to a fruitful completion of our 18th plenary assembly of SECAM in Uganda.

+ I.A. Kaigama

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