The following is a report of our virtual visit as part of our Synodal process. If you have any corrections, please let us know.
Summary: The ICMICA Team conducted a virtual visit with the Catholic Professional Network of Zimbabwe (CPNZ). Started in 2009, the aim of CPNZ is to “give back to the church.” Recognized and registered under Catholic Bishops Conference of Zimbabwe, the CPNZ has an office at the Catholic Bishops Conference of Zimbabwe building. Presently, they have around 250 members on their What’s App group. They estimate that of these, 20% are actively involved and 80% are not actively involved. Some members in their network live outside of Zimbabwe.
In the conversation, we identified several key points.
- Decentralization: Presently, the network is focused mainly in Harare. Decentralizing to other cities and towns is a challenge.
- Movement building and recruitment: CPNZ feels the need to work on mobilizing professionals encouraging them as to why they should join CPNZ. One thing that makes this difficult is that many Catholic professionals are involved in multiple groups and movements at the same time.
- Social action: Among some of the actions of CPNZ is working with local orphanages for fundraising and adopting orphans. They also support the work of Don Bosco technical vocational training school.
- Political engagement: NMCS has a history of political action. CPNZ is looking for ways to continue this tradition. Recently, CPNZ defended the bishops after a controversial letter to the government.
- IMCS Relationships and transition from NMCS to CPNZ: Most members are former members/leaders of the NMCS (National Movement of Catholic Students) in Zimbabwe (IMCS). They expressed that transition from NMCS to CPNZ takes time and requires patience, as it takes time for fresh graduates to get a job in Zimbabwe. It is difficult for recent graduates to join CPNZ when they are looking for jobs and in transition. This also points to an opportunity for CPNZ members to play a role of mentoring and to “share the space” with younger members.
- Identity: A question that gets raised is: “Who is a Catholic Professional?” This needs more reflection.
- Relations with ICMICA: CPNZ members expressed hope that with new technology there is a new opportunity to engage other members of ICMICA.
- Laudato Si’ project: With NMCS (IMCS) and the bishops’ conference, CPNZ developed a Laudato Si’ project to mobilize action on Pope Francis’ ensylcial. The document. This video was published on the Vatican Website: https://www.vaticannews.va/en/church/news/2021-06/laudato-si-environment-zimbabwe-laity-commission.html
Report by Marina D’Costa and Kevin Ahern.