Arriving in this diocese (as administrator) seven years’ ago, one of the great things I found was the “priests’ study week”. It is organised every year and lasts for three – four days. It is not organised by the bishop but by the priests themselves. They choose the dates, the place, the topics and the speakers. They also distribute responsibilities among themselves leading each day, presiding Mass, taken notes… Being for both diocesan and religious priests they make sure they involve as many of them as possible.
The topics chosen this year were very diverse:
“Baptised and sent” (the “extraordinary mission year” to be celebrated in our diocese)
SODV (the “sexual offences & domestic violence act” in the Kingdom of Eswatini)
Marriage (civil rite and Swazi law and custom)
Pastoral obligations for the clergy
“Vox estis lux mundi” (Pope Francis’ new measures to prevent and combat sexual abuses committed against minors, against vulnerable persons or committed with violence, threats or the abuse of authority)
Some of the topics were presented by lay professionals and others by the priests themselves.
Two other things are worth mentioning. There is hardly any need to “remind” anyone to attend it. Arriving at the Catholic Centre I found most of the priests had already arrived. Some of them move to the venue and stay there until the end as the distance to their parish would not allow them to travel daily.
The other one is the “sharing”. Every topic allows time for questions and personal experiences. This is the moment when we bring down to each situation of the diocese (and personal ones!) what we have just heard and try to help each other finding a way forward.
The only “challenge” of the study week was a personal one. Every now and then, deepening on a certain topic, one of the priests said: “fortunately we have the bishop with us and he might help us clarify this point”…