ESWATINI: IMBISA Launches Golden Jubilee Celebrations 1975 – 2025

MANZINI, MAY 21, 2024 (CISA) — The Inter-Regional Meeting of the Bishops of Southern Africa (IMBISA) officially launched its Golden Jubilee celebrations ( IMBISA at 50) on May 8, 2024. The event, held in Manzini, Eswatini, was inaugurated with a heartfelt address by Archbishop Liborius Ndumbukuti Nashenda OMI, President of IMBISA and Archbishop of the Catholic Archdiocese of Windhoek, Namibia.

Under the theme “IMBISA Golden Jubilee: A synodal journey, nourished by compassion and blossoming in faith as pilgrims of hope,” the celebration reflects on fifty years of IMBISA’s dedication to promoting unity and solidarity among its member countries. The theme draws inspiration from John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life,” underscoring the organization’s mission to uphold the values of compassion, faith, and truth.

IMBISA was officially founded in Pretoria, South Africa, on April 24, 1975. It is composed of the Episcopal Conference of Angola and São Tomé and Príncipe (CEAST), Lesotho Conference of Catholic Bishops (LCBC), Episcopal Conference of Mozambique (CEM), Namibian Conference of Catholic Bishops (NCBC), Conferences of Catholic Bishops of Southern Africa, which includes Botswana, South Africa and Eswatini (SACBC) and Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops’ Conference (ZCBC).

In his opening address, Archbishop Nashenda highlighted the significance of this milestone, emphasizing the spirit of collegiality that has defined IMBISA since its inception. Quoting the Vatican II’s Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium, he noted, “Collegial union also appears in the mutual relations of each Bishop with the particular churches and with the universal Church… This variety of local churches converging towards unity more clearly manifests the Catholicity of the undivided Church.”

The Jubilee’s launch coincides with the process of the Synod on Synodality convened by Pope Francis, themed “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation and Mission.”

In the spirit of Synodality, Archbishop Nashenda described the launch as a moment of grace to strengthen the journey of walking together as a family in faith. He invoked the well-known proverb, “If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together,” to emphasize the importance of unity and collective effort in the IMBISA community.

Addressing the challenges faced by the region, Archbishop Nashenda spoke of natural and man-made adversities such as drought, floods, forced migration, corruption, and conflict. He called for a renewed commitment to the teachings of Pope Francis, particularly those in Laudato Si, Laudate Deum, and Fratelli Tutti, advocating for environmental stewardship, human rights, and fraternity.

“These challenges reveal that the jubilee year invites us to increase our faith, hope, and trust in Him who told us, ‘In the world you will have tribulations; but have confidence, I have overcome the world’ (John 16:33),” he said, urging governments in the IMBISA region to join in addressing these issues.

The Jubilee Year launch brought together a diverse audience, including archbishops, bishops, priests, religious men and women, laypeople, young people, government authorities, media representatives, and other well-wishers. The event promised not to only be a celebration of the past but a call to action for the future, aiming to inspire renewal, growth, and a deeper commitment to the mission of IMBISA.

“With hearts full of gratitude and enthusiasm, let us officially begin IMBISA’s Golden Jubilee celebrations, knowing that with faith as our foundation, there is no limit to what we can achieve together,” concluded Archbishop Nashenda.