Zambia Episcopal Conference (ZEC) now Zambia Conference of Catholic Bishops (ZCCB) has launched a one-year long celebration of 125 years of Catholic faith in the country under the theme: ‘125yrs of God's Love and Mercy’.
August 2016 marks 125years since the coming of the first Catholic Missionaries to Zambia in 1891 at Senga Hill Senga district at Mambwe-Mwela outstation of Mambwe mission in the Arch diocese of Kasama.
This was where the first station was set by the white Fathers and there lies a grave of Fr Acilles Oost a Dutch White Father one of the first three to arrive at the station.
The final celebration will be held on 15 July, 2017 in Lusaka.
Speaking at the launch of the celebrations which coincided with the feast of the Transfiguration, on Saturday, 6th August, 2016, Archbishop of Kasama, His Grace Ignatius Chama noted the challenges the White Fathers (Missionaries of Africa) faced.
“They found people enslaved by fear of being raided by other tribes which included the Swahilis and Bemba worriers. They found people whose able-bodied sons and daughters had been taken into slavery leaving mainly children and the old. They found people deep in witchcraft accusations and ritual killings. They found people who had no schools, no hospital,” He said.
Archbishop Chama further said that the Missionaries of Africa also found people that were marrying off their daughters to polygamous unions even at their tender age, and people who had succession disputes resulting into tribal killings.
He however said that the missionaries brought to the natives the Good News of the Kingdom of God, the Good News of hope of living decent and secure lives on earth.
“They brought the message of transfiguration so that at the end these people could be looked at by God the Father and say to them you are my beloved sons and daughters; enter into the life prepared for you,” He said.
The prelate of Kasama Archdiocese however observed that society is till bleeding with the same wounds missionaries found.
“We still have early marriages in all our tribes. For some it is even considered to be important accordingly as part of their culture and custom. We still have slavery of polygamous unions, witchcraft accusations and witch hunting which unfortunately in some cases leads to murder of innocent souls,” He observed.
“We still have children not accessing schools due to long distances to nearby schools and lack of infrastructure, women and girls sold into prostitution to make ends meet,” He added.
And speaking on behalf of Zambia Conference of Catholic Bishops (ZCCB) President Archbishop George Mpundu, Bishop Clement Mulenga, SDB announced that Cardinal Fernando, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples will come to Zambia for a solidarity visit in honour of the 125yrs of the Catholic faith in Zambia from 7th-10th November, 2016.
Cardinal Filloni will grace the 2016 National Catholic Forum, celebrate Mass at the Cathedral of Child Jesus in Lusaka.
Present at the launch were Bishop Clement Mulenga, SDB of Kabwe Diocese, Bishop Justin Mulenga of Mpika Diocese and Bishop Patrick Chisanga of Mansa.
Also President of the republic of Zambia Edgar Lungu attended the launch.