Fr Anthony Ndang Ndichia mhm
Renewed Mission in South Africa Today
Fr Anthony Ndang Ndichia mhm
At the invitation of Bishop J.L Brenninkmeijer, OP, the then Bishop of Kroonstad, the Mill Hill Missionaries were asked to work in the post-apartheid South Africa for reconciliation through engagement in work with migrant workers, peoples of different tribes focusing on community building and reconciliation in the townships of the Northern Free State and more recently the diocese of Rustenburg. Since the arrival of the first Mill Hill Missionaries in 1998, a lot of effort has gone into this mission. Over the past 18 years, our missionaries have been witnessing to Christ, building communities of faith in the spirit of Amare et Servire. People have been reached in their different situations of life in need of either spiritual or emotional healing. This mission has been life giving to the community. In fact, the renewed spirit of evangelization of the Church in Southern Africa is bearing fruit, with slight increases in vocations to the priesthood and religious life with Mill Hill involved in local recruitment and the ongoing processes of psycho-spiritual formation.
In the recent past, South Africa has witnessed a slowdown in the economy with increasing rates of unemployment and a falling rand (currency). Prices of basic commodities are increasing every day. The worm of corruption is gnawing at the very fabric of society. South Africa may well enter a period of political instability with calls for President Jacob Zuma to resign. The society has become more divided and the dignity of the people has been violated by increasing murders and strikes that have often led to the burning down of property and loss of life. Recent racist utterances have hindered the healing process of a united rainbow South Africa. The xenophobic attacks on foreigners, although on a reduced scale, continue to be a cause of concern.
Sadly blacks are divided more along tribal lines and the rich are becoming richer and the poor poorer. Crime related violence on
Ephraim Odhiambo mhm
the streets and townships is becoming unbearable. The rapid increase in the use of drugs often by the young teenage boys and girls is alarming. The increasing HIV rates and the early drop out in schools due to early pregnancies and laziness has become a norm among the youth. Higher education has become very expensive with the shocking increase of university fees. One can easily see the increasing rates of divorce and the broken families in a broken society. The dualism of faith or the dichotomy between faith and practice has been a challenge to the church. In the midst of these challenges, one wonders what will happen to South Africa in the next few years? Where are we heading ? What are the missionaries doing in this “land of contradictions?”
Over the years our missionaries in different mission areas have worked tirelessly in promoting justice and peace, communion and unity amongst blacks and whites…. “A luta continua”. As agents of reconciliation they foster love, dignity and respect as core virtues in the formation of Christian communities, the future of the Church in South Africa. The international spirit of missionaries in South Africa is in tune with the all-inclusive mission of the church. The stability of life, creativity, openness, fraternity and commitment to language has renewed vision in ministry. Pastoral care and the formation of Small Christian Communities and the emerging sodality groups remain a big boost for the Church. Lay leadership formation and empowerment of women and youth highlights the future of the church in the coming years. In the midst of chaos, people are strengthened in hope with the daily reception of the sacraments. In the face of uncertainty, the mission of the Church in South Africa remains: to journey with people, proclaiming the Good News of love and forgiveness in the year of mercy and casting light on the worries and difficulties of the people provoked by the current crisis. Today in South Africa, mission has its goal of moving the society from hatred to love, exclusion to inclusion, rejection to acceptance, outsider to an insider, despair to hope, guilt to forgiveness, sin to righteousness, death to life.
‘Fees must fall’ is a popular slogan in South Africa at present. In line with the renewed vigour in mission one might add:
Corruption must fall
Unemployment must fall
Rape must fall
Data must fall
Tribalism must fall
Racism must fall
Pride must fall
Selfishness must fall
Crime must fall ……………. Etc.
Anthony Ndang Ndichia is a Mill Hill Missionary working in the diocese of Kroonstad, South Africa.