Members of five religious congregations from Nigeria and Ghana gathered together to participate in a VIVAT INTERNATIONAL Workshop for English-speaking West Africa. The workshop held in Ghana at the Divine Word Catholic Conference Centre in Adoagyiri – Nsawam from the 1st to the 7th of December 2013 was a forum for the 46 religious men and women to reflect on the JPIC concerns of their countries and the role of VIVAT in helping to address these concerns. Two lay members of both the SVD and the CSSp also participated in the workshop.
The Religious Congregations from Ghana and Nigeria namely, the Missionary Sisters Servants of the Holy Spirit (SSpS), Society of the Divine Word (SVD), Congregation of the Holy Spirit (CSSp), Missionary Sisters of the Holy Rosary (MSHR) and Missionary Sisters of the Holy Spirit (CSSp) enthusiastically deliberated on issues that cut across their ministries. The reports of the JPIC national/province coordinators including violations of human rights and the ecological crisis seriously facing both countries became urgent matters to be tackled not alone but as a network of congregations.
The participants reflected deeply on the Scriptural Foundations of Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation (JPIC), The Social Teachings of the Church, UN Declaration of Human Rights, Principles of Advocacy, and Culture & Violence: Challenge to Advocacy. The VIVAT Executive Team took the participants through topics concerning the nature, scope and functions of the United Nations Organization, the NGOs and other civil society groups.
The Executive Team enlightened the group on the genesis of VIVAT and its role on Advocacy in the national, international and UN levels.
In their communiqué at the end of the workshop, the participants committed themselves to realize the values of the Kingdom through the Advocacy of VIVAT International. They affirmed that VIVAT International is a practical tool in working for justice, peace and preservation of the integrity of creation.
Additionally, they said “We believe that God created enough resources to serve everybody on earth. The abject poverty and injustice which our sisters and brothers are suffering from are results of structural problems created by human beings and can be addressed, trusting in God. In the same vein, we are facing an ecological crisis as a result of unbridled plundering of the natural resources of the Earth and the need is now more urgent than ever to make an option for life, preserve and protect our natural resources and biodiversity. We will support and promote sustainable development as an alternative.”
In their deliberations the group realized that building the kingdom of God is synonymous with creating a just society. They stated, “We are equally very conscious of our fragility on this faith journey. However, we are confident that we certainly have something to offer and we are committed to these issues for the next three years. We therefore give our hands in fellowship to the different Governments of our countries, the International community, other NGOs, women and men of good will to collaborate with us on this noble project.”
In their plan of action the group firmly concluded that it has now become imperative to have a VIVAT International branch in Ghana and a similar workshop and national office in Nigeria to give more energy to JPIC ministry in their countries.