St Joseph: a good model of parenting and stewardship

Bishops’ message at the end of 2019 Plenary, focus on Environment, Child protection and Human Rights

 

By Kuda Matambo 

The Catholic Bishops in Zimbabwe have called the faithful to follow St Joseph’s model of good parenting and stewardship, at a  time the country and society are ‘putting God aside’ becoming more greedy and selfish and people making themselves little gods.’ 

The Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops’ Conference (ZCBC) celebrated their plenary mass at the Sacred Heart Cathedral in Harare on the 1st of May, the feast day of St Joseph, which is also an international Day of the worker. 

Themed ‘Faith and Social Justice towards meaningful integral human development,’ this year’s plenary focused on matters of Human rights and Social justice, Child protection and safeguarding and the ecology (inspired by Pope Francis’ Laudato Si)

 

St Joseph the humble worker

 

In his homily at a mass celebrated by all the country’s bishops, Bishop Rudolf Nyandoro (Gokwe) said the country and the world today is ‘thirsty of good role models’, of ‘responsible parents and stewards. 

“Let us take St Joseph to be our model. Our society is tremendously in need of models like St Joseph,” said Bishop Nyandoro. 

“Our people, our country needs inspiring role models who inspire the new generations. Our youths yearn for icons who become the source of virtues and integrity like St Joseph.”

“We as your shepherds, are calling to all Christians, to all parishioners, let us take a model from St Joseph, be responsible parents.”

He said St Joseph only wanted to build up his life in the will of God, his main source being God.

“Our world and our country are thirsty of true models...Joseph was a man of prayer and today where God is little by little being put aside, Joseph is a good example to follow especially on Prayer and Humility.” 

“In the midst of greedy members of the society, people involved in many corrupt acts, St Joseph stands for integrity.....he advocates for the honour of truth. Lets us pray through him that we may win God's favour.”

 

Human rights and Social Justice.

 

The Bishop’s deliberations this year were premised on the need to promote purposeful involvement of citizens in matters of governance and environment and child safeguarding. 

Following recent unfortunate developments in Zimbabwe, where violent demonstrations and protests were met with mass arrests, shootings and several human rights violations, political disputes and contestations, the Bishop’s plenary also deliberated on civic rights from a faith perspectives. 

Mr Paul Muchena, the Catholic Commission of Justice and Peace (CCJP) Zimbabwe National Coordinator said the discussions had depth and challenged CCJP to be actively involved in a number of ways. 

“We were challenged to be actively involved in the process of law reforms in the country and to find best alternatives of how the Church can provide intrinsic value that give human dignity.”

As a way of actioning the meeting’s resolutions and promoting inclusive participation, Mr Muchena said CCJP will set up sub committees with specific groups that will see various Catholic professionals providing analytical expertise. 

The committees’ research, analysis and recommendations will inform the Bishop’s Conference in high level engagements and issuance of pastoral statements. 

In the two Pastoral statements issued by ZCBC prior to the 2018 harmonised elections, the bishops urged the government (and all people) to reject all forms of violence and coercion even though post elections reports observed several cases of manipulations, violence and human rights violations. 

Care for mother earth. 

Today a ‘throw away culture’ among people is on the rise and the effects of climate change are becoming more devastating even though many profess ignorance to matters of environmental justice.

The Bishops have made a fresh call for the country to be conscious to the needs of mother earth, our common home taking a que from Pope Francis’ 2014 encyclical, Laudato Si: On care of our common home. 

“Our world and our country need serious stewards, stewards who are there for our mother earth,” said Bishop Nyandoro. 

Commenting on the call by the Bishops, Mr Clive Pawakwenyewa, a representative of CYNESA in Zimbabwe said the call by the Bishops is welcome, but there is need for a clear plan of action and expand the programs to grassroots.

“We welcome the high level call on which the environmental issues are now being discussed, something we have been hoping for since we started this in 2012. There is need now to go onto the ground already covered by other countries, diocese and organisations and start a locally relevant conversation on the environment,” said Pawakwenyewa. 

“We need to not only support already existing environmental catholic initiatives like Team up 2 Clean Up (TU2CU), Integral Youth Development (IYD), Catholic Youth Network for Environmental Sustainability in Africa (CYNESA) but also expand action to all levels- parish right up to diocese levels that can engage especially the interests and concerns of young people.”

“That is to say there now has to be a theoretical and theological discussion that leads to a clear plan of action by the church in Zimbabwe that we can support and monitor.  We need to walk the talk,” he said.

 

Child Protection and safeguarding. 

 

In recent years the Bishops’ conference has been working tirelessly together with several religious congregations like the Society of Jesus, to establish and operationalize policies on Child protection and safeguarding. 

In his remarks, Bishop Nyandoro said the world today need stewards, serious parents who are there for their children and others, who are responsible even for their children and even for themselves.

The conference in 2017 launched a Child safeguarding policy document whose vision is to facilitate holistic development of Children with special focus on physical, social, emotional, intellectual and spiritual well-being. 

 
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