Monze (Fides Service) - The Eucharist and its connection with mission has been the focus of Catholics in the diocese of Monze in Zambia during the past year. In fact, in preparation for the centenary of the evangelisation of the area (1906 -2006), the Bishop of Monze, Italian born Bishop Emilio Patriarca involved his community in a five year Pastoral Plan taking the disciples of Emmaus as a ‘model for the journey’. This decision was prompted by the sad realisation that the Eucharist was not always properly experienced and appreciated, the Bishop explained in a pastoral letter for the year focussing on the Eucharist. “An elderly woman once said to me long before I became a Bishop, ‘Father, we the faithful do not usually take the Sacrament of the Eucharist seriously because you have not explained to us the richness it contains’ - he wrote, adding - This has been a cry in my heart ever since.”
The pastoral plan consists of five stages one for each year: May 2001 - May 2002 ‘Preparation’; May 2003 -May 2003 ‘The Word of God’; May 2003 - May 2004 ‘the Parish Community Gathered around the Eucharist’; May 2004 - May 2005 ‘Witness to the Risen Christ’; May 2005-May 2006, Celebration of Centenary of Christianity.
For each year the Bishop issued a detailed pastoral letter addressed “to priests and religious, parish and church councils, all Small Christian Communities, lay apostolic groups and all the faithful in the diocese of Monze” with guidelines and suggestions to make the year a fruitful experience.
After the initial year of preparation and the year focussing on the Word of God, led by the Bishop, the diocesan community, like the disciples of Emmaus, focussed on the experience of recognising Jesus in the “breaking of the bread” that is the “wonderful gift of the Eucharist”. Diocesan undertakings focussing on the Eucharist including: Catechetical and liturgy seminars for clergy religious and laity on the Eucharist; 3 day diocesan Eucharistic Congress, ‘One Bread, One Body’ to promote enlightened Eucharistic devotion and experience the centrality of Jesus Christ, really present in the Eucharist, in the whole life of the diocese; Diocesan Commissions activities based on the Eucharist; reflection on the Eucharist in the context of African culture; diocesan radio Chikuni, programmes on the Eucharist, with personal input from listeners.
Bishop Patriarca also stressed the close connection between Eucharist and Mission: “There is an intimate and inseparable link between Mass and Mission. Our communion with Christ means that we share not only his life, but also his mission” the Bishop told his people. PS (Fides Service 3/5/2005 words 458 lines 33).