ZAMBIA: Lay role vital in Church growth says archbishop
By John Newton
28 June 2012
Lay involvement is the life-blood of Zambia’s growing Church, according to a senior prelate in the country.
During a visit to the international headquarters of Aid to the Church in Need in Königstein, Germany, Archbishop Ignatius Chama of Kasama praised lay participation in Zambia, describing how it was essential to the spread of the Church.
The prelate, who is Archbishop of Kasama, in northern Zambia, as well as Apostolic Administrator of neighbouring Mpika said that catechists were crucial to the success of “prayer centres” – as they refer to the fledgling parishes with no priests.
Speaking to Aid to the Church in Need he said: “For example in the Mpika diocese, where I’ve been for the last three to four years, we have about 75 [catechists] who are actually in charge of making sure that at all our prayer centres people are being taught the Faith.
“And all the prayer centres are being organised like a parish and they are making sure the catechism is taught in the centres – and that people have access to the sacraments when the priest comes.”
He added: “In the absence of the priests, they are leading the Church forward in these centres.”
There are a number of active lay organisations in the country, including the Legion of Mary, the Catholic Family Movement, the Society of St Vincent de Paul and various Third Orders.
Archbishop Chama went on to praise lay associations and movements for promoting and living out the Catholic Faith.
He said: “In these lay movements and lay associations we have people who are coming up with initiatives to make sure that the Church progresses and moves forward.
“They witness to the Faith, witness to the values of the Catholic Faith, they are the ones [doing that] in their places of working and in their homes.”
Archbishop Chama added that the first and second All-African Synods emphasised the role of the laity.
He said: “We identified the role of the lay people as being cardinal to the evangelisation efforts of the whole church.
“The role of the lay people has been praised by the conference”.
The contribution is particularly important in those areas where the Church is only just beginning to evangelise.
Archbishop Chama said: “We have some areas which have been evangelised for 100 years and others which we are still evangelising”.
He referred to a new parish, Our Lady of the Rosary, established last October in Luangwa, eastern Zambia.
With the challenges of spreading the gospel to new areas, the Church in Zambia needs “to match human and material resources to move forward evangelisation”.
The archbishop said that in particular it needs new means of transport and formation for seminarians, Sisters and Catechists.
Archbishop Chama thanked Aid to the Church in Need for providing key help in these areas.
He said: “Aid to the Church in Need has contributed to the formation of the priests that we have, it has contributed to our means of transport… so I would say a big thank you to all the benefactors and all the donors who are giving to Aid to the Church in Need, in order for them to assist us.”