Lilongwe — The Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM) says all is set for Malawi to host the much awaited Association of Member Conference of Eastern African (AMECEA) plenary from 16th to 26th July at Bingu International Conference Centre (BICC) in Lilongwe as preparations for this crucial meeting are now at an advanced stage.
ECM's Social Communications Secretary, Fr. Andrew Kaufa disclosed to the Lamp Magazine that all the main organizing committee and its subcommittees are currently in the course of finalizing the whole preparatory exercise for the plenary.
He said for instance the fundraising and Finance sub-committee which is headed by Dr. Mary Shawa has managed to collect more funds from the dioceses.
Apart from collecting contributions from each and every Christian in every parish in the country, Fr. Kaufa said the fundraising and finance committee also carried out a number of local resource mobilization activities such as gala dinner and dance, braais and Gospel music shows.
He said the sub-committee also produced a Year of Faith cloth (Chitenje) in 2013 and an AMECEA cloth this year as a way of fundraising for the plenary.
Fr. Kaufa said the sub-committee has also produced a variety of souvenirs that will soon be available for sale before and during the conference.
"Activities are still under way to raise more funds. However, the Secretary General who is also co-chairman of the main committee is already grateful to all Catholics and well wishers who have contributed a lot to the funding of the various activities," said Fr Kaufa.
Meanwhile, the fundraising and finance subcommittee is scheduled to hold the last dinner and dance activity at BICC on 11th July as a way of meeting the budget by raising funds.
According to Fr. Kaufa,Malawi will host at least 300 delegates to the plenary, a number which
comprises of the AMECEA executive board chaired by Archbishop Tarzious Ziyaye of Lilongwe Archdioces,the AMECEA secretariat personnel from Nairobi in Kenya; the Symposium of Episcopal Conference of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM); the Catholic University of Eastern Africa; donor and development partners such as Catholic Agency For Aid and Development ( CAFOD), Catholic Relief Services (CRS), Missio Munich; the cardinals, archbishops,bishops, auxiliary bishops and their secretariat from the Episcopal conferences of Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Sudan, Zambia and the host Malawi.
He said delegates will start to jet into the country through Kamuzu International Airport on 14th July with the arrival of Executive Board Members and other delegates will follow on 16th July.
"After a colorful official opening Mass that falls on the17th July at CIVO Stadium, the major part shall be the discussion of the theme which is "New evangelization through true conversion and witnessing to Christian faith."
He said, "Under this topic a number of topics have been developed such as a discussion on early missionary work of
evangelization; the cultural, political and social environment in the area; the role of seminaries in evangelization; the role of chaplaincies and institutions of higher learning in enhancing evangelization; the impact of the digital technology and social media in the context of evangelization; and liturgy and enculturation".
Fr. Kaufa further said, a closing mass shall be held at Maula Cathedral on 26th July 2014.
He said in addition to this heavy staff, the entertainment committee, with support from the Catholic Women Organization, have organized social evenings whereby various cultural dancers including the Kungoni Troupe
shall be involves; and solidarity visits to parishes within the three deaneries in Lilongwe City.
Meanwhile, ECM is appealing to all Catholics and people of good will to come in large numbers for the opening and closing Masses at CIVO Stadium and Maula Parish respectively.
ECM is also appealing to Catholics and people of good will to assist in ferrying choirs from the dioceses.
"While thanking the people for their generosity, we once again appeal to all Catholics and people of good will to support financially the activities since the Preparations Committee is still in the process of fundraising so as to cover the budget, "said Fr. Kaufa.
The Chairperson for the Security sub-committee, John Chome has since given an assurance of total safety during, before and after the plenary.
He said the committee has already conducted a survey around all the premises that will accommodate the guests.
"The sub-committee will also engage a host of lay security volunteers drawn from parishes, Catholic Youth and other groups in the Church," said Chome.
According to Chome, the subcommittee has since expanded and strengthened with the inclusion other partners like the Malawi Police.
Meanwhile, ECM Communications department says preparations for Catholic Journalists and other media houses to give out the best coverage during, before and after this plenary are also going on.
For instance, the department has managed to meet with all Catholic Journalists within Lilongwe and catholic media houses like radio Maria, Radio Alinafe, Luntha Television, Montfort Media and Radio Tigabane to strategies on how best to handle the issue to do with publicity Chairperson for the Association of Catholic Journalists, Deogratias Mmana has since pledged total support from Catholic journalists during this plenary.
In a recent interview with AMECEA Secretary General, Fr. Ferdinand Rugonzo said they were excited with the way Malawi is handling the preparations for the plenary.
"From what we have seen and the reports we have received; we are so pleased and convinced that the Church in Malawi is ready to host the 18th AMECEA Plenary Assembly and we are so sure that even if the plenary is to start tomorrow, the Church in Malawi has shown that it is ready to host the conference', he said during a recent meeting of Secretary Generals from the AMECEA region held in Lilongwe.
Fr. Rugonzo added; "This has given us confidence and raised our hope that we are going to have a successful Amecea Plenary Assembly in July this Year."
The government of Malawi has also shown interest to support this historical Church event as evidenced from the availability of government officials during preparatory meetings which are currently under way. Further to that, the main organizing committee is encouraged with the country government looking at the fact that the country's Vice President, Saulos Chilima was once the Chairperson for the Amecea publicity subcommittee.
Malawi will be hosting the Amecea Plenary Assembly for the third time after hosting it in 1979 at St. Peters Major Seminary and in 1995 at the then St. John Seminary in Zomba and Mangochi respectively.
AMECEA is comprised of nine countries namely; Eritrea, Etheopia, Kenya, Malawi, Sudan, South Sudan, Tanzanias, Uganda and Zambia. Somalia and Djibouti are affiliate members.