In a letter to the Jesuits, the Major Superior designate Fr. Leonard Chiti, SJ, of the yet to be inaugurated Southern Africa Province, invited local communities to join in the celebration slated for March 25, 2021. The letter read in part, “… owing to the pandemic and the governmental restrictions which prohibit large gatherings, I invite all local communities to gather at 17h30 on Thursday, 25 March 2021 in their local communities and to participate – as communally as possible, though where this is not possible to at least participate in some way, in the virtual Mass where the Decree of Erection of the Southern African Province will be read”.
The Mass will have representatives from across the new Province. The homily will be preached by Fr. Agbonkhianmeghe E. Orobator, SJ, the President of the Jesuit Conference of Africa and Madagascar (JCAM). It will be preached in both English and Portuguese.
The inauguration of the new Province comes after a decree signed on June 8, 2020, by Fr. Arturo Sosa, as Superior General, announcing the creation of a new Jesuit Province in Africa, the Province of Southern Africa (SAP), which unites the current territories of the Dependent Region of South Africa, the Province of Zimbabwe-Mozambique, and the Province of Zambia-Malawi. The countries where the Jesuits will work in this new Province are the Republic of South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho, Botswana, Swaziland, Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe.
Fr. Chiti in his letter of March 19th, on the Solemnity of Saint Joseph, also encourages all Local Superiors to arrange a celebration in their local communities after the Mass so that all can in a small way, experience the joy of this moment for which every Jesuit in the three jurisdictions had diligently prayed for success over these last years. He also calls for the involvement of lay colleagues, friends, and benefactors to join in this celebration, saying, “this celebration should be a ‘Feast’ and I ask Ministers and Local Superiors, within their means, to please be generous in their celebration. After all, it is not often that we witness the birth of a new Province and celebrate all the potential we have to serve Christ’s mission in this part of Southern Africa. It is my ardent desire that we mark the birth of this new province with celebration and joy. For this is not the end, it is the beginning of a new journey which will see us forge an ever-greater union of hearts and minds as we work towards the reconciliation and justice the countries in Southern Africa desperately need”.
While concluding his letter, the new Provincial Designate called on Jesuits, collaborators, benefactors, and partners in mission to ask for the intercession of St Joseph, as those involved prepare to launch this new Province in the Year of St Joseph, who in his quiet and humble way celebrated with the Holy Family with what little means were at their disposal, and yet still managed to find serene joy and contentment in God’s presence. “Please also pray for me, and the new curial staff and province officials who will take up their new roles on March 25th. May God always guide us, and your prayers always support us, as I pray for each of you in your mission as we journey into this new Province together”.
Father Chiti’s appointment as Provincial for the new Province was announced in a letter of December 7, 2020, by Father General Arturo Sosa; he will therefore take office on the date when the decree takes effect, which is March 25, 2021.
The Inauguration Mass program in English and Portuguese below: