Oblate Voices is a JPIC blog that follows stories of hope and is about how Oblates and associates live and experience mission work in the spirit of the Oblate founder, St Eugene De Mazenod of responding to the needs of poor and most abandoned around the world.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Mission Sunday 2017 - Catholic Diocese of Livingstone, Zambia

By Bishop Valentine Kalumba OMI.

Mission Sunday is October 22, 2017.Organized by Propagation of the Faith, Catholics worldwide celebrate and reflect on their baptismal call of the gift of faith and recommit to the Church's missionary activity through prayer and generosity in support of  various young mission dioceses around the world. 

Bishop Valentine Kalumba, OMI, was consecrated as Bishop for the Catholic Diocese of Livingstone, Zambia in September 2016. As part of the celebration to mark Mission Sunday 2017, Bishop Valentine Kalumba, OMI shares about challenges, growing pastoral needs and opportunities for mission work in the diocese.

Livingstone diocese in Zambia has a population of 500,000 and only 96,000 are Catholics. This means that despite the vast area covered by the diocese, there are few Catholics. We have only 18 diocesan priests, 12 Religious priests and are blessed with about 29 religious sisters. We continue to pray and encourage more vocations to both religious life and priesthood.

Outreach Programs around the Diocese

We are a diocese comprising eighteen (18) parishes.  Out of the 18 parishes, six (6) are around the town of Livingstone and the remaining twelve (12) are in the rural area. Rural parishes are large and the soil is sandy. The roads within these parishes are only tracks of deep sand making the use of four – wheel drive (4 x 4) vehicles really necessary. The furthest parish is St Leopold’s Parish (Shangombo), which is about 500km (311 miles) from Livingstone town. This parish is run by Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate.
Bishop Valentine Kalumba OMI with   Fr Richard Chanda OMI at St  Leopold  parish  Shangombo-Zambia

The diocese runs three secondary schools, one hospital and two rural health centers. As the youth are the future of the nation, we have a youth center for skills training.  The diocese operates a home shelter for children with disabilities and a hospice. We also have centers that take in and help abused children and girls; in addition to a shelter for women. We also spread the word of God through a Catholic radio.

In 1997 the diocese of Livingstone gave up part of its territory to establish the Diocese of Mongu. The diocese of Livingstone covers an area of 58,200 km2 (22,500 square miles).  The diocese of Livingstone also shares borders with four countries; Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia and Angola. Livingstone is also home to the world-renowned tourist attraction, Victoria Falls - Mosi-oa-Tunya.

Challenges in Mission

Transportation is the main challenge in our pastoral ministry. Our fleet of vehicles are old and most of our parishes are in rural areas. The roads within these parishes are only tracks of deep sand, making the need for four – wheel drive (4 x 4) vehicles very essential. Vehicles are key for pastoral ministries. Secondly, we lack personnel. Hence, we have one person doing many different jobs. 

Diocesan personnel’s generosity is rooted in deep commitment to doing God’s work. We also lack specialized personnel or pastoral experts, so further studies for pastoral leaders is critical. While we try to be self-sustaining as a diocese, we have continued to depend on the generosity of well-wishers. Their support makes a deep impact and we continue to pray and seek more partners in doing the work of God.

 Together in doing the work of God

The diocese is embarking on empowering local Catholics and educating people on the importance of self-sustainability.  We have developed a 2016-2019 strategic plan, which will help the diocese in providing a framework and clearly defined direction for decision-making. We have brought on qualified lay people to the Finance committee, hoping that with their expertise, they will help fundraise for the diocese and parishes, and especially provide solutions for our sustainability of the diocese.

If you or your church group are interested in becoming partners in mission with the Catholic Diocese of Livingstone in Zambia, please contact our diocesan offices at this email: seclivd@zamnet.zm   

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