Today’s occasion brings great pleasure, a sense of nostalgia and fond memories of my time at St Joseph’s College.┬á Your Lordship Bishop Valentine Tsamma Seane, the Clergy, parishioners, fellow Batswana as well as friends of the Catholic Church; I am elated by the magnificent facilities we are opening and blessing. It is evident that the motto of St Joseph’s College, Per aspera ad astra – “through difficulties to the stars”, is held in high esteem. ?It is through hard work and visionary leadership that we are witnessing the opening of the Ave Maria Pastoral Centre; a project that cost P40 million. I view this occasion as essentially to celebrate the Centre and a bouquet of services it offers.┬á
For a long time the Catholic Church had a significant challenge of hosting international meetings due to lack of accommodation and conference facilities. The development of the state-of-art facility is a bold decision by the Church to address the deficiency. ?
The Ave Maria Pastoral Centre, the first of its kind in Botswana, was built in pursuit of contemporary processes of evangelization and support of spiritual growth of the faithful. Other activities include hosting a variety of activities ranging from training workshops for the youth, to spiritual retreats for groups and other members in churches, pre-marital and post-marital counseling and workshops, international conferences and workshops to provide counseling for adolescents, youth and abused children and women; amongst its other uses while fostering, developing and strengthening parish team life in the process. ?I do appreciate the role of spiritual retreats in the church.┬á They tend to be the hallmark of activities of several sodalities, groups and individuals in the church.┬á Retreats have the special focus that offer personal growth as participants are guided to look at life and the world with God in mind.┬á Retreats of religious groups have in majority of cases offered significant spiritual growth and experiences to participants.┬á Such spiritual gatherings for retreats require a conducive environment or place with a sense of being apart from one’s usual setting.
The significance of this day echoes fond memories of the contribution the Church has made in partnering with Government in development initiatives. To this end, the Church has been exemplary in demonstrating its commitment in areas such as spiritual growth, education, health, social welfare in particular support of the poor and suffering, provision of decent shelter and housing to the less privileged to name but a few.┬á By participating in such activities, it is answering the Vision 2016 Pillars of, “a compassionate, just and caring Nation” and “a moral and tolerant Nation”. It is answering religious fervent fervor to sustain and succour moral uprightness, and by extension social fibre and fabric.
The opening of this facility signifies a concerted effort by the Roman Catholic Church to contribute to the infrastructural development. The facility has provided an embellishment of the Game City developmental landscape and beaded bubbles of scenic enchantment; I dare say scenic allure.?The Catholic Church has pondered over the idea of Pastoral Centres for some time, with such Centres found in many Dioceses throughout the world.┬á The Centres focus on activities established to support and fulfill the mission of the church in various parishes.┬á Some Centres offer spiritual growth, support services to the less privileged and to those experiencing challenges in life through provision of, for example, pastoral counseling services and family life education.┬á
Other Centres are available to offer activities such as evangelization, catechesis, ministry formation and charity mobilization. ?As we celebrate this feat, I wish to appeal to all and sundry to actively participate in nation building and speak against immoral behavior including development of sects such as Satanism in society. This has a potential to reduce the gains we made in the education sector as Satanism is invading some institutions, including schools.?The government is further concerned about the current socio-cultural change that is associated with the concept of worship. The Constitution of Botswana provides for “freedom of association and worship”. However, we have of recent years seen a proliferation and mushrooming of questionable unorthodox “religious” entities with motives which betray and besmirch the tenets of freedom of worship.┬á There are reported cases of Batswana being victims of day light robbers under the cloak of religion. ?As we are all aware, some innocent Batswana have been exposed to immoral acts in the guise of divinity. Our fellow citizens have been manipulated of their spiritual stature and material being under the pretext that they would be destined for salvation to the God almighty, by certain unscrupulous individuals. I urge the nation to be wary and refrain from being lured into false entities in the guise of divine backgrounds where material and financial rewards are falsely promised. There is nothing realistic about the practice and we should regard it as a misdemeanor.
Many are robbed of hard earned money and property.?Batswana continue to be inundated with social challenges, some which are manageable. The challenges include indiscipline, family problems, drug abuse, suicide, poverty, to name but a few.┬á There is need for formalized structures or platforms that render sustained personal support to those, of all ages, enduring grief, illness, injury, disability, marital challenges, unemployment, relocation, care-giving, isolation, inability to attend church, or other such difficult life situations. Such challenges require intervention from all supportive institutions. I am therefore impressed that counseling will be accommodated at Ave Maria. ?The Ave Maria Pastoral Centre is critical to the provision of world-class space to host resident and non-resident activities from various organizations.┬á I am pleased to note that the centre is indeed open to all in need of space for various occasions.┬á Ave Maria has a welcoming environment that will assist in achieving intended objectives.? I wish to advise those who will be managing the centre to aim high in service delivery.┬á ┬á Those who receive world class service at the centre should leave the place a hopeful clientele. ?Let me take this opportunity to commend you for setting-up the Ave Maria Pastoral Centre.┬á I encourage you to stay steadfast in the vision of spreading the good news and living to one of the pillars of faith drawn from the book of James 2 verse 20, quote “Faith without deeds is dead” unquote.┬á Good works prove that our faith is genuine, or in other words one who professes self to be faithful should demonstrate the truth of his or her fidelity by works.
These were remarks made by Vice President Dr Ponatshego Kedikilwe at the opening of the Ave Maria Pastoral Care Centre