ETHIOPIA: SECAM Relaunches AU Liaison Office, Appoints Consolata Priest Stephen Okello First Officer

By Paschal Norbert

ADDIS ABABA, FEBRUARY 20, 2024 (CISA)The Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) has relaunched its African Union Liaison Office (SECAM-AU Liaison Office) domiciled in Addis Ababa and appointed Fr Stephen Okello, IMC, as the first liaison officer.

A delegation led by the Secretary General of SECAM, Fr Rafael Simbine Junior, Deputy Secretary General, Fr Jean Germain Rajoelison and Mrs Mavis Anima Bonsu, Head of Finance and Administration at the SECAM Secretariat, were present in Ethiopia from February 9 to 14, to relaunch the revitalized office that has been dormant in recent years.

In 2015, SECAM was granted Observer Status at the African Union (AU) to amplify the Church’s voice from Africa, Madagascar and the Islands on critical issues such as good governance, sustainable development and the promotion of servant leadership across the continent.

Thus, the liaison office will serve SECAM’s observer mission role at the AU and will be based at the Catholic Bishops Conference of Ethiopia (CBCE) Secretariat in Addis Ababa.

According to Fr Simbine, “The current leadership has strategically chosen to establish the AU Liaison Office in Addis Ababa as the focal point for the activities of the Justice, Development and Peace Commission (JDPC) of the Symposium…Consequently, the close collaboration between SECAM and the African Union is deemed essential for achieving unity, peace, harmonious coexistence and continuous development across the continent and its islands.”

In light of this new development, Fr Stephen Okello, a Consolata Missionary priest from Kenya has been appointed as the first liaison officer to assist SECAM in the running of the mission whose official representative to the AU is His Eminence Souraphiel Cardinal Berhaneyesus, the Metropolitan Archbishop of Addis Ababa.

“Counting on your usual fraternal disposition and understanding, we entrust this new office to your full supervision, with the aspiration that it will serve as an additional instrument of the Church in Africa, aimed at the implantation and growth of the Kingdom of God on the continent and in the Islands” said  Fr Simbine during the signing of a memorandum of understanding between SECAM and the Major Superior of the Consolata Fathers in Ethiopia who commissioned Fr Okello to the liaison office.

The Major Superior of the Consolata Fathers – Ethiopia signing the Memorandum of Understanding with SECAM in the presence of SECAM Secretariat. The MoU commissioned Fr Stephen Okello, as the Liaison Officer for SECAM-AU office in Addis Ababa.

According to SECAM, the relaunching of the liaison office in Addis Ababa is proof of the exemplary collaboration between the Symposium and the Episcopal Conference of Ethiopia across various domains, particularly in fostering a positive relationship between the Catholic Church in Africa and the African Union.