SECAM’s training for AIDS pastoral care
Delegates to a SECAM training for Anglophone Africa met in early November at Bredell, near Johannesburg. The Second African Synod called for a training manual for Africa on pastoral care for people living with and affected by AIDS, and SECAM (the Symposium of Bishops’ Conferences of Africa and Madagascar) was given the task of producing the manual, and disseminating it across the continent. Participants in the South African training included representatives from various bishops’ conferences, and from Catholic agencies and dioceses in their countries, and SECAM and SACBC AIDS Office staff. All three SACBC countries were represented.
Bishop Jose Luis Ponce de Leon (liaison bishop for AIDS) presided at the Mass on the feast of All Saints of Africa, and Sr Hermenegild Makoro (SACBC secretary general) participated in part of the training. Three people living with HIV and on ARV treatment who are part of a support group at Nazareth House in Johannesburg gave personal testimonies, touching delegates with their honesty and openness concerning their stories and the challenges they have overcome. Participants visited several AIDS projects in the Archdiocese of Johannesburg, and were impressed with the commitment they observed at Nazareth House, Johannesburg; Sithandizingane, Tsakane; St Francis Care Centre, Boksburg and Ahanang, Sebokeng.
The pastoral manual provides up to date information on HIV and antiretroviral treatment, on pastoral counselling and on the Church’s teachings. It is expected that delegates will provide ongoing training in their countries and dioceses.
Further training is planned for Francophone and Lusophone countries.