On Wednesday, 2 May 2018 staff at Khanya House, the offices of the General Secretariat of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC) gathered to celebrate 200 years of the Catholic Church in Southern Africa.

The occasion was marked by a Mass celebrated by Fr Sakhi Mofokeng of the SACBC’s Department of the Laity. In introductory remarks the Associate Secretary-General, Stigmatine Fr Patrick Rakeketsi, recalled the history of the Catholic Church in Southern Africa, and thanked all the missionaries who left their homes to bring the faith to Southern Africa, which at that time covered a territory that was vast and spanned several countries - even encompassing areas of the Indian Ocean and islands as far as Mauritius and - for a time - Australia.

Sr Hermenegild Makoro, the SACBC Secretary-General, continued to thank the missionaries who had offered their lives totally in the service of the Church. She challenged the staff to draw their inspiration from these pioneering and selfless missionaries in the way that they serve God through their own work at Khanya House in service of the Bishops’ Conference. She noted that when one is working for the Church the primary concern should not be about money or what one can obtain for oneself, but rather how one can be of service to others. She explained that working for the Church requires a spirit of service that puts the people of God at the heart of the work that is done on behalf of the most disadvantaged.

This celebration was part of a series of celebrations across Southern Africa to mark the bicentenary of the Church’s presence. The bicentennial celebrations began in June 2017 and conclude in the Archdiocese of Cape Town on the 24 June 2018. All parishes, deaneries, dioceses and archdioceses have been invited to celebrate this happy milestone.

This article is archived here from my work for the online publication, Spotlight.Africa which I wrote whilst working for the Jesuit Institute South Africa. Spotlight.Africa was a work of the Society of Jesus in South Africa from 2017-2021.

This was originally published at: https://spotlight.africa/2018/05/03/working-for-the-church-requires-a-spirit-of-service-says-sr-hermenegild-makoro/