The 17th Association of Consecrated Women in Eastern and Central Africa (ACWECA) Plenary Assembly come to a close with Religious Women in the Region committing to deepen their consecration, being in solidarity with those who suffer and collaborating and sharing of spiritual, human and financial resources.

His Eminence JoãoCardinal Bráz de Aviz, in his keynote address called Religious women in the region to collaborate, bear witness and be in solidarity with one another and with the people they serve.

Cardinal de Aviz stressed that, the commitment that the Assembly made in formation of leaders of Institutes and Member Conferences, and the formation of formators was very important.

The Outgoing ACWECA President, Sr Priscar Mantenga, DOR
(Left) hands over the keys of ACWECA Secretariat to the
incoming President, Sr. Cecilia Njeri, LSOSF

Meanwhile, the presentations, reports and messages from Member Countries and partners among other issues, emphasised the need to scale up initial and on-going formation, fighting human trafficking, collaboration and solidarity among the Sisters in the region.

Other issues that surfaced at the 17th ACWECA Plenary Assembly included family and youth, justice and peace and integrity of creation, organizational development and growth and enhanced monitoring and evaluation at all levels.

Unlike other past Plenary Assemblies where the Regional body was always mandated to carry out specific activities, this time round, Delegates asked ACWECA to carry out the activities outlined in the Strategic Plan.

Sr. Enelless Chimbali, Re-elected ACWECA Secretary General

While commenting on the outcome of the Assembly, the ACWECA Secretary General, Sr. Eneless T. Chimbali, SBVM, explained that the issues noted in the reports and presentations were some of the key issues identified in the 2017-2022 Strategic plan.

She clarified in her report to the Plenary Assembly that the formation of leaders was paramount for the growth and development of consecrated life in the region as this would strengthen leadership for deeper evangelisation confirming that, a workshop on leadership formation had already been slated for November, 2017 and she invited leaders of Institutes and member conferences to seize the opportunity to apply for it.

At the end of the Assembly, delegates to the 17thACWECA Plenary also elected a leadership team with Sr. Cecilia Njeri, LSOF as chairperson to steer the 43-year-old Association for the next three years.

In her acceptance speech, the Kenyan born nun who is also the Superior General of the Little Sisters of St. Francis, (LSOSF) Nkokonjeruin Uganda had this to say: “I feel humbled but I know the work belongs to God. With his help and your support and corporation, all will be well and with God’s help I say yes.”

ACWECA Board members pray over their newly elected chair

As stipulated in its statutes, the Executive Board of ACWECA consists of chairpersons and representatives from Member Conferences (National Associations). As such, they were each tasked to nominate a member to form an Executive for ACWECA as its governing body. The ACWECA Chairperson is always assisted by the board member from the host country of the next plenary assembly, which in this case is Sr. Adelina Muguna.

In that regard, the Council Delegates unanimously chose Kenya as the venue for the next Plenary Assembly slated to take place in 2020. The current Assembly which was to take place in Kenya had been shifted to Tanzania due to the general election that took place around the same time with ACWECA meeting.

In another development, the Conference of Major Religious Superiors (CMRS) in Zimbabwe has been accepted as an Associate member of ACWECA after their request. The Council of Delegates to the 17th ACWECA Plenary Assembly voted overwhelmingly to have CMRS join as an Associate member as the later has been putting its request to become a member of the regional body.

New ACWECA Board members presented at the Plenary

The Assembly however endorsed their Associate membership after CMRS president, Sr Mercy Shumbamhini, CJ, who was at the Assembly presented their formal application and a letter of recommendation from the Catholic Bishops’ Conference in Zimbabwe. Although CMRS has a joint membership of men and women religious it will only be the Women Religious joining ACWECA.

“In the past we felt isolated facing our own difficulties alone but I am happy that we are now part of ACWECA that is geared to evangelise,” said Sr. Shumbamhini.

Sr. Shumbamhini said issues on Cannon law, formation of formators and leadership formation for the institutes has been an area of greet need and that she was happy they would now benefit from their membership.

She noted that they would bring on board new skills and the culture. “We have empowered women and we will bring skills and our culture to enrich ACWECA,” she said, adding that they are open to share their resources both human and otherwise.


By Sr. Grace Candiru, MSMMC, ACWECA Communication Office