The church in Botswana, this past week played host to the Prefect of Dicastery for promoting Integral Human Development, Cardinal Peter Appiah Kodjo Turkson a Ghanaian citizen residing in the Vatican State. The Vatican Official arrived on Monday 15th July 2019 at the invitation of the Diocese of Gaborone, to conduct a spiritual revival in the Diocese.

In his first official engagement, the prelate facilitated a two days National Conference of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal at St. Joseph’s College. The theme of the conference is “Worship God in spirit and in Truth” and with a stripline “Arise Botswana and worship God.” The Conference was organised as part of national activities marking the Presidents Day..

Giving welcome remarks to His Eminence Cardinal Turkson, by the Bishop appointed to the Diocese of Gaborone his Lordship Frank Nabuasah S.V.D said “may I take this opportunity to welcome and introduce to you very important visitor of ours who has just arrived. We are excited not because he will be speaking only to this conference but because throughout this week he will be with us, he will speak with the priests, he will speak with the politicians, speak with women religious and is a sign for his love for our country.”

Bishop Frank further reminded the congregation that the only purpose of the gathering was the thirst to understand the ways of God, the way God works in our mist and try to live that out in our lives. He further said “this October, Pope Francis has invited the Church to celebrate what is called extra ordinary mission month to remind us that we are all baptised and sent out as missionaries as people who are carrying the word of God as Christopher’s.” That is to say, we carry the word of God and go out to try to share this word of God with other people. He gave credence to individuals by saying, “belonging to a prayer group gives a positive sign because it keeps the fire of love, of prayer and praise alive in the church and the church cannot survive without that support of prayer. But what is more is to be Christian, to be Christian means to go out and share. Therefore it is not enough to only remain in a prayer group as it risks the chances of having a heresy thinking that God is only for us who are gathered in the room here today. In fact, God has given us the room, God is greater than anything that we can think, he is more than whatever our minds tells us. And so it is good that we take his command seriously and in everything we do to reach out to others and tell them God’s love for them and for all of us.”

In his keynote speech, the Cardinal highlighted that Botswana cannot worship God without its leader that is why on the day of the President we gather in prayer, we want our prayer to be the prayer of the President and all believers and all Christians in Botswana for the well-being of the state of the people of Botswana and its government. Continuing, he said: “We have gathered here for the next days to rediscover our faith in the Lord and to rediscover how we maintain our relationship with the Lord through prayer and especially to worship the Lord in the spirit and in truth. As we gather we want to understand the ways of God and try to live out in our lives. To worship the Lord in the spirit and in truth this is what Jesus required for somebody like you and I.”

Following some of the activities which took place in the visit of His Eminence to Botswana; there was a prayer walk intended to pray for the leaders of the country and to let peace of the country is well-known of to reign again and to live, and to unite all of us. This prayer walk started at Christ the king Cathedral to the government enclave, along the walk the prayer of the Holy Rosary was recited and Stations of the Cross were made, then later concluded with the Eucharistic celebration dedicated to the nation of Botswana for peaceful upcoming general elections this year. These was so influenced by the country’s liberation movements leading to political parties unlikely to be major surprises during the election season this year. Botswana has been ruled by political powers that have been in command since independence. Although Botswana is well-known of her prevailing tranquillity, this days we are living in very difficult times, this are uncertain periods of time, in which one cannot know what to expect tomorrow when waking up. Therefore, “the political situation is bowering and so it is our intention to pray for our nation. To pray for peace and harmony, and to pray that God’s power of the holy spirit may touch our leaders and unite them so that our country may continue to move forward. We Christians cannot pretend we do not know what is happening and we cannot pretend that we do not have a share of what is happening. Ours is the power to intercede with God, ours is a duty to pray for our leaders,” mentioned bishop Nubuasah.

On Wednesday 17th July, Cardinal Peter Turkson met with priests and spoke about the sacred of one’s vocation to priesthood. Where he gave a scripture reflection about the experience of Moses with the burning bush which triggered a new sense of curiosity. It is therefore, this sense of curiosity that led Moses to draw closer, that is to say, his personal encounter with God changed his mindset. “A priest as a leader should be curious, and this curiosity should lead him to a personal encounter with the Lord,” expressed Cardinal Turkson.

Still on the, afternoon of the same day His Eminence paid a courtesy call to the Office of the President, and had a brief encounter with the Minister of Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration Hon. MP. Nonofo Molefhi. In their conversation the Minister appreciated the visit to his office and highlighted to Cardinal Turkson some of the great impact the Catholic church has done in Botswana especially the support of social development and upliftment of the lives of the poor. Education being visibly leading influence to the lives of Batswana as we noticeably the Catholic secondary schools; St. Joseph’s and Mater Spei Colleges being the best schools in the country. Although Minister Molefhi is not a Catholic he however testified the best quality education one gets from Catholic schools as he himself went to Catholic schools since primary level to secondary level.

Another exciting moment ever in the history of the church in Botswana had a conversation with the nation’s Political leaders. His Eminence Cardinal Turkson facilitated his first of its kind engaging conversation with local politicians to better understand and promote the ‘Principle of the Church’s social teachings and promote the common good’ to which every aspect of social life must be related if it is to attain its fullest meaning, stems from the dignity, unity and equality of all people. According to its primary and broadly accepted sense, the common good indicates “the sum total of social conditions which allow people, either as groups or as individuals, to reach their fulfilment more fully and more easily,” indicated Cardinal Turkson. Moreover, this common good that people seek and attain in the formation of social communities is the guarantee of their personal, familial and associative good. These are the reasons for which society originates and takes shape, with its array of structures, that is to say its political, economic, juridical and cultural constructs. A society that wishes and intends to remain at the service of the human being at every level is a society that has the common good the good of all people and of the whole person as its primary goal. “The human person cannot find fulfilment in himself, that is, apart from the fact that he exists with others and for others,” said the Cardinal. In his closing remarks with the politicians, Cardinal Turkson urged those who exercise political authority to see to it that the energies of all citizens are directed towards the common good; and they are to do so not in an authoritarian style but by making use of moral power sustained in freedom!

In concluding his five days visit to the church in Botswana, Cardinal Peter A. K. Turkson met with the Women Religious where he shared with them the journey of his vocation as a way of encouraging them to hold tight to their call. He expressed and emphasised that there is greater need to nurture one’s vocation in order to create room for growth as there are various phases of our vocations. That is to say, they should be need for developmental character of an individual’s vocation then be able to execute it well. He continued to say “in your own vocation there should be a thirst for the need for growth. Formator’s task is to help those they are forming to realise and re-discover themselves and discern well their vocation.” This can only be done through an intimate relationship with God and constant discernment is necessary for one’s vocation. Prayer should be the starting place of our vocation, in order to cultivate our relationship with God to grow. When we converse with Jesus he exposes us. Hence there is need to have a regime for a moment of prayer. He encouraged the women religious not to allow their experiences of failure determine their way of life, “they are just there to help you grow, kneeling by the tabernacle and pouring to the Lord your ultimate desire for him should be your source of strength and consolation to all your troubles.”

By Sr Phatsimo Veronica Ramokgwebana SC