Recently appointed Bishops in Africa, Asia, America and Oceania gather for a study seminar organized by the Dicastery of Evangelization from 5-17 September looking at a wide range of topics to help them in their work in primarily mission territories around the world.
By Thaddeus Jones
A meeting bringing together 81 bishops recently appointed in areas of Africa, Asia, America, and Oceania just concluded, after a meeting with Pope Francis on Saturday. The Dicastery for Evangelization organized the study seminar, which took place from September 5 to 17 at the Pontifical College of St. Paul the Apostle, and brought together Church leaders, especially from mission territories.
Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle presided over the closing Mass on Saturday in St. Peter’s Basilica and an audience followed with Pope Francis.
Bishop Francis Adesina of Ijebu-Ode Diocese in Nigeria participated in the seminar and called the meetings very helpful in getting to know his brother bishops around the world in other mission territories, as well as learning about the Vatican dicasteries at the service of the local churches.
Bishop Adesina with faithful in the Diocese of Ijebu-Ode Diocese, Nigeria
He enjoyed getting back into “classroom mode” with bishops from around the world, focusing on the work of evangelization in their respective parts of the world, and gained new insights into the work being done in faraway places for him. The bishops also dialogued with leaders from the Dicastery for Evangelization, as well as the heads of other Vatican offices concerning consecrated life, the laity, culture, and communication. All these meetings, he says, will “help these young bishops all over the world to understand the direction of evangelization” in the current global context, as well as the expertise and help available to them from Rome and from each other.
Bishop Adesina especially appreciated this unique opportunity to meet his fellow bishops, those recently appointed, and to learn from them. He recalled how he knew some of them before as fellow students studying at the pontifical universities here in Rome.
Particularly helpful at this meeting was rediscovering the role of the bishop in the pastoral life of the Church today, Bishop Adesina went on to say, noting that a bishop is a preacher, teacher, and must “be another Christ” to those he serves, a man of communion. The emphasis on pastoral care and unity also became the focus of discussion when looking at how to use the model of synodality in the Church in its life of evangelization.
Dialogue and unity
The bishops all had chances to ask questions, even difficult ones, about the challenges of their mission and how to respond, and Bishop Adesina appreciated the open listening and understanding on the part of all, a true dialogue. “I felt an experience of the catholicity, the unity of the church, and the nature of it,” said Bishop Adesina, “so we are all filled with zeal to return back to our mission, to go and serve, to go and work but to work with the heart of Christ, to work with the heart of compassion and mercy.”
Meeting with Pope Francis
In their audience with Pope Francis on Saturday, Bishop Adesina welcomed the Pope’s words to them in underscoring that a bishop must be a man of prayer, and especially attentive here since the prayer life is where mission begins. The Pope also told them to be available to their fellow bishops in supporting each other. And he said to be close to their priests, their closest collaborators on whom they depend, helping and encouraging them, as they do as well for all involved in evangelization like the catechists. In conclusion, the Pope called on them to always be close to the faithful, the laity in the Church who all have their own unique role to play and charism to express.
New zeal and vision
In conclusion, Bishop Adesina says “these are the various ways that I felt this program of two weeks has imparted or injected new zeal, new vision, new drive into me and other bishops.”