A team of experts drawn from across Africa has converged in Nairobi, Kenya, from March 14th to 16th, 2023, under the auspices of the African Synodality Initiative (ASI), to put in place a Synodality Resource Team to develop a programme of formation in synodal leadership for the clergy and laity in order to promote the spirit and practice of synodality in the Church.
The Synodality Resource Team is meeting exactly one week after the conclusion of the recent African Synodal Continental Assembly organised by the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
The team will among other things pay attention to the quality and depth of the formation of clergy and laity in synodal leadership and practice. The formation programme is also meant to encourage the laity to become more engaged in the structures and processes of the Church, including informing themselves of the modus operandi at the heart of the Church.
The hybrid workshop (with both in person and online participants), has been necessitated by the realisation of the need to provide for formation and training in synodality.
According to the workshop convenor, Rev. Fr Agbonkhianmeghe Orobator, the out-going President of the Jesuits Conference of Africa and Madagascar (JCAM), one of the lessons from the diocesan phase of the synodality process was the realisation that the formation of leaders in a synodal style of leadership is critical to the success of the overall goal of becoming a synodal Church.
Rev. Fr Orobator appreciated all the participants, some of whom were participating online at hours which were not quite convenient. He said one of the outcomes and advantages of synodality that the participants have experienced over the last two years is that they have been walking and journeying together and, as a result, most of them now knew each other. This, he said, has made many participants more comfortable with one another, even though they come from different backgrounds across the continent. He thanked the media for the excellent coverage of the synodality process, more so, the recent African Synodal Continental Assembly in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
The aim of the workshop, he explained, is inspired by the Working Document for the Continental Stage, no. 83, which calls for the establishment of synodal agents and teams of Synodality. These are, people with experience or willing to develop expertise to become facilitators, champions, trainers. The team would be available as agents and teams to facilitate sessions on synodality for communities and institutions to support their growth in the spirit of synodality.
He further explained that the criteria to invite each of the participants to the Nairobi meeting were because each one of them had individually championed or promoted synodality in one way or the other.
It is therefore important the team gathers, listens to one another, discern, and discuss how to develop formation in the spirit of synodality. Through listening, the team would draw from the collective experience and wisdom, and depth of knowledge on synodal matters.
After the end of the two-day workshop, the team will be able to have an outline of a formation and training module that can be perfected with time for training in synodal leadership in a synodal Church. They will also be aware of their role as SRT and identify areas, communities, people and institutions that would benefit from the programme of formation in synodal leadership in the Church.
He thanked the Jesuit Conference of Africa and Madagascar (JCAM), the Symposium for Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM), and the Association of Member Episcopal Conferences of Eastern Africa (AMECEA) which he described as strong partners in the synodal journey.
The African Synodality Initiative was established to develop resources to assist local churches in Africa to participate in the synodality process.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM).
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