Almost everywhere in Africa catechists are important helpers for the priests. Indeed, in many geographically very large parishes they are the ones who in the numerous and often far-flung villages actually instruct the Catholics in the faith, prepare them for reception of the sacraments and gather and lead them in prayer.
This is also the case in the diocese of Mpika in northeast Zambia. With an area of over 86,000 km² (33,600 square miles) it is larger than Austria, yet it has only 18 parishes. So the distances are correspondingly large. And it is situated in a rural area with very poor roads. Many places are isolated and difficult to access. The diocese has a dedicated training centre for catechists, since their work is so important for the Church.
Thanks to the generosity of our benefactors we were able to provide the support required to enable these catechists, who “stand on the very front line”, to “help their priests to mobilise the people and revive their flagging pastoral zeal”, as the bishop puts it. More than half of these catechists work freely as unpaid volunteers. The bicycles have made their work much easier and more effective, enabling them to travel more quickly from one village to another.
There is great rejoicing among them, and we now wish to pass on their thanks to everyone who contributed. “We are sincerely grateful for this gesture of love and solidarity in this our one mission of Jesus Christ. In acquiring these bicycles, the catechists have been motivated to continue doing what they know best, namely dedicating their lives to the spread of the Gospel in a remote and difficult area“, Bishop Mulandu concludes.