Keetmanshoop (Agenzia Fides) - "The appointment of a Bishop is, in fact, a sign of God's love for his people. For the Church, and in particular for the Diocese of Keetmanshoop, God accomplishes the promise he once made to his people Israel: I will give you pastors after my own heart (Jer. 3: 15). In his great solicitude, God has given you a pastor...
He is a Bishop not only of his ecclesial Circumscription, but also of the Church in Namibia, as well as the Universal Church, working in a collegial manner with the Holy Father, the successor of Peter". This is what Archbishop Protase Rugambwa, Secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, said during the solemn liturgy that he presided over in Keetmanshoop, in southern Namibia, on May 5, where he presided over the episcopal ordination of the Bishop-elect Willem Christiaans (see Fides 07/2/2018), as part of his pastoral visit to Namibia and Botswana (see Fides 27/4/2018).
At the beginning of the homily, the Secretary of the Missionary Dicastery brought the cordial greetings of the Holy Father, Pope Francis, and those of His Eminence, Cardinal Fernando Filoni, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, to the Bishops, priests, men and women religious, lay people as well as government officials, traditional leaders, expressing particular appreciation and gratitude to the priests, religious, catechists, pastoral associates and all of the faithful, for the "for tireless efforts in carrying out the Church’s mission of evangelization, both here in Keetmanshoop and beyond".
Referring to the biblical readings proclaimed shortly before, Archbishop Rugambwa addressed the Bishop elect: "Dear Fr. Willem, today Jesus is posing that same question to you, as he did to Peter: do you love me? We are all confident that your response is similar to that of Peter, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You”, and I suppose you would probably add a request: My Lord, help me to love you more and more, and above everything else. Always remember that the love of Our Lord precedes any fruitful service in His name. If you love Him, you will learn to express in your life and in your pastoral ministry his own love and his passion for the salvation of souls. The effectiveness and fruitfulness of your ministry will always depend on your relationship with Him, the one whom you represent"
The love for the Lord, the Archbishop continued, will have to be translated, "into factual and unconditional love for all Christians, the object of your pastoral care", So, "dear Fr. Willem, as a father and a brother, love all those whom today God places in your care", in particular the priests and deacons who share the ministry of Christ, to regard them as sons and friends; the religious men and women must feel the paternal attention and esteem for their precious contribution to the one and common mission, and the lay faithful, called to collaborate actively in the affairs of the Church. "You should also have a place in your heart for the non-Catholics – indeed for all people – so that upon them too there may shine the charity of Christ Jesus, to whom the Bishop is a witness before all men. In short, seek to be a father who excels in the spirit of love and solicitude for each and every member of the flock. You should manifest your concern for everyone, no matter what their age, social condition, or nationality, be they natives, strangers, or foreigners".
Mgr. Rugambwa therefore recalled the duties of the Bishop: to preach the Gospel, to celebrate the sacred rites, to govern the local Church. His task is also to address, with clarity and humility, the issues concerning justice, peace, reconciliation, non-violence, social changes ... In particular he must be close to those who suffer, the poor, the little ones.
"Dear Father Willem - he concluded - You are well aware of the significance and gravity of the vocation and mission of the Bishop. No one can claim to be worthy of it without the help of God. Thus, through the imposition of hands and the prayer of consecration, let us ask God to transform you and to take you fully into himself by means of the Holy Spirit. You will be sealed with a sacred character to be Christ’s representative, so that He himself may help you to become, through him and with him, a good shepherd of his flock". (SL) (Agenzia Fides, 12/5/2018)