A first: Southern Africa bishops pick nun as Secretary General

A little piece of history being made:

The bishops of Southern Africa have appointed Sister Hermenegild Makoro as the new Secretary- General of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference.

She will replace Fr Vincent Brennan SMA who is to retire in March.

Linda Bordoni spoke to Sr. Hermenegild by telephone and asked her about her background, how she views her appointment, and what issues are currently on the table in the SACBC.

First of all, very modestly, she points out that although her nomination is a first for Southern Africa, she is not the only woman Secretary-Gereral of a Bishops Conference because “there is one sister in the Nordic countries who also is Secretary-General of a Bishops Conference… she sent me a congratulations note, and also in New Zealand – if I’m not mistaken there is another woman”.

Sr. Hermenegild says she sees her appointment as recognition from the bishops of the work that women are doing in this part of the world. “I really look at it like that because the women are doing great work in this part of the country. Even here in the Conference, most of our offices are headed by women, and in education women are in leadership, in health women have been in leadership, so I think and I do believe that the bishops do realise that women are doing a great job. You go to the parishes: who do you find? You find women in leadership”.

Commenting on the fact that last year saw two Nobel Peace Prizes going to African women, Sr. Hermenegild acknowledged that that is because women are doing a lot of work “and for me that’s why the bishops are recognising and acknowledging the work women are doing in the Church. I think we play a leadership role and for me it’s very important and fulfilling. I myself have been involved since my early years as a religious, fully involved in the pastoral work in our diocese, so I’m sure that the bishops looked at this and they do appreciate it. And they do recognise the qualities that women have in places of leadership.

To the question “What would you say are these qualities?”, Sr. Hermenegild said that when a woman takes a responsibility upon herself, she does not pull out, she puts the whole of herself into it and just gets on with the work.

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  1. Involvement with women has been a huge obstacle for the African Church, so it’s nice to see the the recommendations of the the African Synod and the recent apostolic exhortation about it come to fruition.

  2. pagansister says:

    Glad to hear a woman has been put in charge of an important area in the Church!

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