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Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate  United States Province

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Oblate Superior General’s Meditation: The African Synod – “A breath of fresh air” November 10th, 2009

The Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops took place in Rome on 4-25 October on the theme The Church in Africa in Service to Reconciliation, Justice and Peace. Missionary Oblates Superior General Rev. Fr. Wilhelm Steckling OMI looked at the African Synod in his November missionary reflection statement, which we would like to share here.

Oblates have been present in Africa since Saint Eugene’s time and its importance for our Congregation keeps increasing. What do we know about Africa? While the Continent occasionally appears on the world news there is still too much silence about it. Very recently we got an opportunity to hear what our African Church leaders are saying about their Continent and I invite us all to lend them listening ears.

The first Synod for Africa was held 15 years ago. I still remember the opening ceremony, I had just settled here in Rome. As it seems, that synod was mostly a time to become acquainted. The post-synodal document, “Ecclesia in Africa”, inspired us with the image of “the Church as God’s Family” which it took “as its guiding idea for the evangelization of Africa” (EIA 63).

The “Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops” ended a week ago. It focused on “The Church in Africa in service to reconciliation, justice and peace”. Among the 240 participant bishops, eight were Oblates, and among the almost equal number of auditors, experts, fraternal delegates and helpers we had, for the first time, five of our scholastics involved, offering different services.

We will have to wait a few months for the main document to appear but the message given at the conclusion is already out. I found it particularly outspoken and striking, and to read the whole text is worthwhile. Let me highlight just a few points, in three steps. While the message tells us how the African Synod sees its continent, it may also offer us inspiration for our mission in other parts of the world.

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