The 2014 Pastoral week celebrations in the Archdiocese of Bamenda took place at the Paul VI Memorial Pastoral Centre in Bamendakwe from the 11th – 19th of October with theme “The Place of the Family in the Small Christian Community and the Church as a whole”.
This was motivated by the fact that Pope Francis had called an extraordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the Family, and also based on the important place the Christian family occupies in the Small Christian Community (SCC) and the Church as a whole. Celebrations took place at the various levels of the Pastoral Organogram of Evangelization of the Archdiocese, with the various Pastoral Agents, amongst them, Religious, Pastoral Commission, Pastoral Formation Teams, Priests, and the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council, each having a day of reflection on theme of the celebration and prayers for God to help every Christian through the intercession of the Holy Family to uphold the values of the family and make plans as to how they can support family life.
The Justice and Peace Commission has always been fully involved in the activities of the Pastoral Week celebrations over the years. It joined the Provincial Pastoral Formation Team in preparatory activities that lead up to this year’s celebrations proper at the various levels (SCCs, Mission Stations, Parishes, Deaneries, and Archdiocese). On the 17th and 18th of October 2014, that is, Days for Service Heads/Commissions and the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council respectively, the Justice and Peace Service and elected Justice and Peace Commission members at the Archdiocesan level were fully present and took active part in the deliberations.
In his Key Note Address on the 17th of October, His Grace Cornelius Fontem Esua, Achbishop of the Archdiocese of Bamenda, amongst other issues, emphasized on the Teachings of the Church on the Family. His Grace made mention of the Second Vatican Council which defines the family as “The Domestic Church” (Lumen Gentium No 11). He went further to site some other documents like Gaudium Spes No 48, Gravissimum Educationis No 3 which he said, give paramount importance to the role of the family to every Christian.
He also emphasized the fact that we must be part of the Small Christian Community (SCC). Therefore, “Every Christian Must Belong”. We as Christians must belong to a family especially as situations have proven that we at times have Permanent (Permanent Domicile) and Semi-permanent (Quasi Domicile) homes. This is important in the organization of the SCCs and the Commissions, he affirmed. Hence, "there should be no vagabond or freelance Christian".
He ended his address by speaking on some challenges facing the Traditional and Christian Families today; same sex marriages, single parenthood, amongst others, thereby giving an assignment to the Synod to see into it that families function properly, while also insisting on Marriage, especially on the fact that ongoing formation for married couples has to be a priority for all priests and those called in a special way to the Marriage Apostolate.
Like other services/commissions, the Justice and Peace Service and Commission presented a synchronized report of its pastoral activities for the period September 2013 to October 2014. Reactions were made on these reports, and the day ended with a Holy Mass.
On the 18th of October 2014, the Day for the Diocesan Pastoral Council, the Archbishop in his welcome address referred to the delegates at this session as ‘An Assembly of the Church in Bamenda’. This is a Consultative Organ under the Archbishop to study and propose practical conclusions concerning Pastoral Work. The Archbishop again referred to its members as his ‘Closest Collaborators’.
Amongst other activities during this session, secretaries for this council were elected, and it was agreed that the council shall be meeting once every year.
Closing the day, the Local Ordinary reiterated, amongst other things that after so many years, the Diocesan Pastoral Council is gradually taking form. Perfection will only be attained if all members cooperate, given the much work ahead. He encouraged the delegates to keep up, knowing that there shall be many challenges on their way. He called on them to keep the vision of the Provincial Pastoral Plan ever clear, as it is the only Pastoral Program they all must follow. Like Pope Francis, he encouraged openness and sharing of worries in the process of growth.