As a prelude to the 3rd Plenary Assembly of Bishops of the Regional Episcopal Conference of West Africa popularly known as RECOWA-CERAO to be held in Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso) from 13 to 20 May 2019, the Secretaries General of the various national and inter-territorial conferences which constitute the RECOWA-CERAO met in Ouagadougou to reflect on the ways and means of improving their administrative capacity for more efficiency and better results. The purpose of this in-service training is simply to re-awaken the Spirits of our Secretaries General to their unique call as administrators of their various conferences. One of the goals of RECOWA-CERAO in organizing this training session is to challenge our Secretaries General to greater competence while assisting and directing the bishops so that together we can build a more resourceful and vibrant Church in our African sub-region for our generation and for the generations yet unborn.

In his opening speech, the Secretary General of RECOWA-CERAO, reminded his brother-Secretaries that they have the mandate of organizing the Secretariat in line with the call of modern day administration. He affirmed that the duty of humbly getting the Bishops in their different conferences to do the right thing falls on them. There is need therefore for the Bishops to support their Secretaries General for result oriented tenure. The participants appealed to the Cardinals, Archbishops and Bishops to see the necessity for capacity building of their Secretaries general for more effective delivery of their mandate.

On the lectures proper, the guest lecturers explained that the aim of the lectures is to assist the Secretaries Generals in their duty not only to organize and execute their particular assignments, but more importantly to organize the entire secretariat entrusted to them by the bishops of their conferences. They made the participants understand that the secretariat is a structure through which the Bishops normally conduct their activities, thus the urgent need for this immediate result oriented program to be put into action and updated regularly.

True to his words, the Secretaries General witnessed a life changing experience within the three days’ training.  At the end of the session, the Secretaries General testified that following this training, they are imbued with a deeper sense of mission and ready for more effective administration back home. Majority of our Secretaries Generals in attendance gladly testified that following the perspective of this training, they can go home and prophetically manage their conferences with better administrative skills.

On the final day, the lecturers focused on the issue of handover or transfer of service. This aspect formed one of the controversial points of the training session. We appeal to all the Cardinals, Archbishops, Bishop and Secretary General to consider this very important issue a matter of great concern for the growth of the Church.

In all, the lecturers advised that the outgoing persons should be given enough time to prepare their hand over notes. They instructed that the hand over must necessarily be carried out before a third neutral party for record purposes. They finally suggested that the outgoing persons must be appreciated for the services rendered no matter how good or bad the services might have been. One thing certain is that all the Secretaries General in attendance have gotten it right on how best to effect a proper transfer of office. We therefore request the Cardinals, Archbishops and Bishops to support their Secretary Generals in the discharge of this delicate assignment.

However, to eradicate the usual laxity and lack of transparency in the transfer of offices noticeable in various dioceses and conferences, the lecturers came up with certain measures to eliminate or remedy the common irregularities which often have negative impacts on the Church. According to them, it is necessary to draft binding rules on the part of bishops which may be in form of management manual.

In all, one thing remains certain, all over the world, the Church in general is recognized for the quality and strength of her administration. Our goal here is to strengthen her efforts for better and more effective results in West Africa and in the world at large. Our aim is to place the Church in our region at a vantage position to respond adequately to the challenges of the modern world to the joy of RECOWA-CERAO and to the ultimate glory of God.

Indeed, for the mission of the Church to remain effective on our soil and bear fruits in abundance, we should be able to download an operational and prophetic administration. The governing body of RECOW-CERAO has a vision of a Church in West Africa and beyond. She dreams of a Church capable of planning, administering, communicating and coordinating her activities.

Participants in this three day training could not hold their joy and contentment. We observed that the Trainers have implicitly transferred the passion to administer noticeable in them into the participants in this lecture series. The Trainees are joyfully going home better equipped for maximum efficiency. Great thanks to the governing body of RECOWA-CERAO for organizing this program and we promised to put into definite use all we have gathered while asking the lecturers to keep their doors always open for us as we will continually knock for more assistance as we return to our different Territories.

Fr. George WC Nwachukwu

Communications Officer for RECOWA-CERAO