DIOCESE OF TZANEEN VISION 2020
A Presentation by Bishop Joao Rodrigues
I remember a few years ago when South Africa was chosen to be the host country for the 2010 soccer world cup, people from so many sectors of South African society became involved in preparing for this huge international event – government,tourism and hotel industries,construction companies and other businesses such as the transport industries,sports and recreation,the entertainment industry and also church groups.There was national excitement in the expectation of World Cup 2010 – “feel it,it is here” – was the slogan promoted by the social media.And the whole world was amazed to see how successful South Africa hosted the world cup – how everything was in place and how the spirit of the beautiful game dominated the nation and was enjoyed by all the visitors and soccer fans.Even the word “vuvuzela” became internationally recognised! Of course 2010 is now behind us and we do not know if we will ever host a soccer world cup again.
The Future of the Church in the Diocese of Tzaneen
From the introduction we can see that when a particular future event is envisioned and owned by many groups of people, it is possible to bring it about in spite of the many obstacles militating against its future realisation. The Catholic Church in the Diocese of Tzaneen is a rather small Church when compared to many other dioceses in Southern Africa and we have particular challenges because of our cultural diversity and general rural poverty. However we can still grow and develop more in the grace of God if we are able to see in faith what God can see as a possible future scenario of the Catholic Church in this diocese in 2020 and beyond. The inspiring words of the prophet Joel come to mind: “I will pour out my Spirit on everyone. Your sons and daughters will proclaim my message; your young men will see visions and your old men will have dreams.” (Joel 2, 28). The Holy Spirit is given to everyone who is a faithful member of the Catholic Church and we can all be inspired by the one and the same Holy Spirit, no matter what our age, gender or status is in the context in this region of Limpopo Province. As such we can confidently share our dreams and visions concerning the future and in this way articulate a common vision which we can all embrace and work together for its realisation in the grace of God.
Tzaneen Diocese Vision 2020
Last year when I was appointed bishop of this diocese, some people wanted to know what my agenda would be as a bishop,what plans I had in mind for this diocese. They were quite disappointed to hear that I had none! Of course I have ideas,visions for the future and lots of wishes and hopes in relation to the needs I am becoming more and more aware of in this diocese. But this does not mean much if everyone else in the diocese has other ideas and hopes different to mine.
If we want to grow and develop as a Catholic Church in this diocese, we will all need to contribute one way or another in articulating and owning a vision for the future. Once we are together – of one mind – concerning the kind of Church we believe God is seeking from us as we move into the future, then, and only then, will such a Church be able to be realized in our region. The importance of this task lies in the fact that we as Church members and leaders come from many different contexts and experiences of life and our views and expectations of being Church are therefore quite diverse and as such can become divisive and even create conflicts which will be difficult if not impossible to resolve.
My hope is that we can at least plant a seed – we can call it our 2020 vision – which points not only to the future (the year 2020) but, what is more important, that it also points to our need to have a shared or common vision for that future. So my hope is that we will all see the need for this. Secondly I hope that we can draw up a simple yet comprehensive programme for consultation at diocesan level next year so that by the end of 2012 we will be able to express the main elements of our vision. This 2020 vision will then become our reference point for all our pastoral planning and programmes from 2013 until 2020.
Sharing our faith – experiences both as individuals and as family and community is an important way by which we support one another in the faith. Already in the SACBC region as a whole all parish communities have been called to share their reflections on what it means for them to belong to the Catholic Church of Jesus Christ in Southern Africa. Reflection materials are available in order to assist us to do this. It is in this same spirit of shared reflection exercises that we can also take up the challenge to articulate our own vision of being Catholics in the Diocese of Tzaneen. For example I can imagine that by 2020 we will be celebrating the beatification of Servant of God Benedict Daswa with special pilgrimages of prayer and spiritual revivals for the whole SACBC region.This is one possible shared element which God may be calling us to envision,embrace and promote for this diocese. But if only two or three Catholics believe in this cause or if only one parish believes in this cause,then we cannot talk about it being a shared vision of the diocese. For example I believe that young Catholics should be a visible, strong and active presence in our Catholic communities and that such an active and organised presence of young people should be seen to be growing in all our parishes so that by 2020 our parishes would reflect the demographics of South Africa concerning the presence of young adults and youth
of 65% or more. What do you see concerning the Church and your own life and community when you think about the year 2020? Can we share our visions and come to one common comprehensive picture? I think we can if we all turn to the same loving God and Father for guidance and inspiration because God already knows our future possibilities in the grace of Jesus Christ. May the Holy Spirit enlighten us and encourage us to seek together a common vision for the Diocese of Tzaneen.
Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, pray for us. St Joseph, pray for us.
Bishop Joao Rodrigues
Diocese of Tzaneen