The Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM) is an assembly of the Catholic Bishops in Malawi, comprising the Dioceses of Chikwawa, Dedza, Karonga, Mangochi, Mzuzu and Zomba and the Archdioceses of Blantyre and Lilongwe. The Conference has its General Secretariat at Area 11, off Chimutu Road in Lilongwe and is headed by the Secretary General. The Catholic Secretariat coordinates all the Social Development and Pastoral activities in the country. Currently, the Conference has three Directorates: Social Development (Catholic Development Commission in Malawi CADECOM, Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace CCJP, Catholic Education Commission CEC, Catholic Health Commission CHC and Social Communication and Research Commission); Finance, Investment and Administration and Pastoral. The Conference aspires that its news worthy issues are widely disseminated to the wider public through its communication arm, the Social Communications and Research Commission.
The Social Communications and Research Commission of the Conference has been implementing a project on responsible procreation and parenthood with funding from the Health Policy Plus since 2016. The aim of the project on ECM’s part was to raise awareness on population growth been felt by many in Malawi through activities and programmes on the Catholic Media houses on television and radio. All Catholics and people of good will were reached with messages on responsible procreation and parenthood. Our project in the first round of small grants targeted all dioceses and archdioceses as agents of evangelization, the youth and other people took part in the implementation of this project.
The following are the activities that the Episcopal Conference of Malawi undertook with the small grants in the first round.
1) ENGAGING THE YOUTH IN DEVELOPING MESSAGES. There was a meeting at Our Lady of Africa Lodge in Likuni-Lilongwe in February 2017 where the youth were gathered to brainstorm on the messages on responsible procreation and parenthood. These boys and girls belonged to what is called Young Catholic Students (YCS) and came from all the dioceses in Malawi. We engaged the youth in this activity because we felt that they are in majority and that they are the hope for the church of tomorrow hence taking them on board at a tender age in as far as populations growth is concerned, would be beneficial. The youth showed much interest in the issues of population and developed good messages.
2) SHOOTING OF DRAMAS/PLAYS. We proceeded with the shooting of plays. We involved two schools that are in Lilongwe namely Likuni Girls Secondary School and St John’s Boys Secondary School. We opted for these schools in town to cut costs as it was a small grant hence could not take us to all corners of the country in the eight dioceses. Girls and boys from these schools used the messages developed at Our Lady of Africa Lodge in Likuni-Lilongwe. These plays were aired on the catholic media.
3) ADVOCACY MEETING WITH AGENTS OF EVANGELIZATION. In a bid to sell the idea to all agents of evangelization on responsible procreation and parenthood, we convened a meeting of agents of evangelization in the Catholic Church at the Catholic Secretariat in April 2017. These agents of evangelization comprised the diocesan communications secretaries and all the diocesan youth chaplains. They were trained on responsible procreation and parenthood by Rev. Fr. Thomas Kasiya; a counsellor and psychologist and Dr. Mapanje from Bwaila Hospital. We are happy a story on the same by the then communications officer appeared in Sunday Times News paper on 2nd April 2017 with the title, “Population growth worries ECM.”
4) AN ADVOCACY MEETING WITH DIRECTORS OF CATHOLIC MEDIA HOUSES. ECM convened a meeting on 18th December 2017 in Mangochi with the directors and programme officers from Catholic media houses. This was a fourth activity done to advocate for coverage of our programmes to be aired out in their media houses. Moreover, we planned on how the fifth activity would be conducted. All the directors welcomed the idea that our programmes be brought to the people through their powerful channels.
5) A PANEL DISCUSSIONS ON RESPONSIBLE PROCREATION AND PARENTHOOD.
Catholic media houses conducts panel discussions on Responsible Procreation and Parenthood and one of them was held on 28th December 2017 at Bishop Nervi Media Centre in Lilongwe. Among those on the panel were the vice chancellor of the Catholic University who has a doctorate degree in Moral Theology and recommended by the conference of Catholic bishops to comment on moral issues, the Catholic Health Commission Secretary from the Diocese of Dedza that is implementing a project on Responsible Procreation and Parenthood, a couple that is well conversant with family planning issues, and one youth. This panel discussion was facilitated by Maria Chidzanja Nkhoma of Zodiak Broadcasting Station (ZBS). The panel discussion was recorded and aired out on Radio Maria Malawi that has a national coverage and television Luntha. This was done for a month because people felt it was a good programme.
For more information about ECM go to ECM website