Faith and Encounter Centre, Zambia (FENZA)

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Official name Faith and Encounter Centre, Zambia (FENZA).
Country / Continent Zambia / Africa
Director of the institute Fr. Gotthard Rosner, M.Afr.
Legal holder of the institute Missionaries of Africa.
Sponsor of the institute Missionaries of Africa.
Year of foundation 2007.
Number of staff (employees, freelancers, volunteers) 7
Staff members of your institute Permanent: 3 priests of the Missionaries of Africa. 1 Librarian. 1 Secretary. 1 general worker. 1 cook. 1 night watchman.
Contact P.O. Box 320076

Bauleni, Lusaka



Particulars of your pastoral institute

Official name

Faith and Encounter Centre, Zambia (FENZA).

Director of the institute

Fr. Gotthard Rosner, M.Afr.

Legal holder of the institute

Missionaries of Africa.

Missionaries of Africa.

Vision / mission statement

Empowering Christians in Zambia to face in openness the challenges raised by contemporary and traditional cultures and to encounter people of other churches and religions.

Main areas of work

Engagement with cultural and religious topics that affect the Christian faith. (Topics we were busy with this year: witchcraft, Satanism, dreams, traditional healing, understanding of mental illnesses, spirit possession, gender relations, girls’ initiation rites, prophecy, charismatic Christianity).

Ecumenism and Interfaith Encounter.

Resource Centre (library and archives).

Teaching Zambian languages and giving introductorily courses for newcomers to Zambia.


Biblical apostolate and deepening of Christian faith (retreats).

Addressees of your work (course participants[1])

The library is used mainly by university students and lecturers, and seminarians.

Seminars on cultural topics are given on Parish level and four particular groups (2011: priests/sisters, prayer guides, charismatic renewal, school teachers, catechist, traditional leaders, traditional healers, diverse lay-groups.)

Courses for newcomers are mainly attended by Catholic priests and sisters, and church personnel of various churches.

Our conferences are open to all walks of life.

Year of foundation


Organisational structure of the institute

The Board of Governors approves of the main policy line and the budget. The day to day running is organised by the director together with the FENZA staff.

Number of staff (employees, freelancers, volunteers)


Staff members of your institute[2]

Permanent: 3 priests of the Missionaries of Africa. 1 Librarian. 1 Secretary. 1 general worker. 1 cook. 1 night watchman.

Free-lance: we have a number of Bemba and Nyanja teachers and tutors who work on request. We also have a resort network of university lecturers, church institutions (CARITAS Zambia, JCTR), priests, brothers, and sisters who help out on specific course, especially the introduction courses.

Volunteers. Some groups (like the “Fingers of Thomas”) are affiliated to us and help us with the giving of workshops on a voluntary basis. The same group provides counsellors for people afflicted with witchcraft or Satanism.

Qualifications of staff members of your institute

1 priest: PHD in social anthropology, MA in Counselling

1 priest: PHD in Biblical studies

1 priest: MA in social anthropology

1 librarian: Degree in library studies.

Questions relating to the work of your institute

What pastoral options do you feel obliged to?

Issues concerning ecumenism and interfaith.

Cultural issues which lie in the area of our competence.

Calls (by bishops, Dioceses, or groups) to stimulate reflections.

What are the pastoral focus areas of your institute?

See question II, 3 and I, 6.

What pastoral aims does your institute pursue?

Better integration of cultural issues into our Christian faith.

Increase openness and mutual understanding (ecumenism), at the same time help Catholics to deepening their Catholic faith.

Help Catholics confronted with “borderline issues” (witchcraft, spirits, the realm of the dead, dreams …) to find a balanced and holistic approach.

What pastoral services does your institute provide?

Information services (library, archives).

A platform for discussions and reflections.

Counselling, prayer and support for people distressed by witchcraft, Satanism, spirit possession, which are often related also to family tensions.

Specific groups which can be approached by any person (a group of traditional healers, a group of traditional initiators (cultural initiation rites), a group dealing with witchcraft related issues.

What pastoral processes have you initiated or accompanied recently?

A ten step approach (holistic) to deliverance from witchcraft related issues.

Reflections in Parishes about dreams, prophecy and faith-healing (issues relating to charismatic Christianity).

Small ecumenical groups.

What does this mean for the areas of catechesis, deaconry and liturgy?

Catechesis: The national catechetical office consults us sometimes on issues within our competence. Some bishops consult us on pastoral statements.

Liturgy: In one parish we helped designing the outline for a healing service.

Preaching: This year, we have tried to bring more awareness among pastoral workers (in talks and seminars) concerning charismatic Christianity, and hope that this is sometimes mirrored in preaching.

What notion of God inspires your work?

God who meets us in persons who are very different from ourselves.

God who has been present in Zambia long before Christianity arrived. Who is guiding people also outside the Catholic gates.

God who showed himself fully in Jesus Christ, who is close to all, who does not exclude, who is close also to people distressed by a dark world marked by concrete experiences with witchcraft and evil spirits.

God who looks for faith, who challenges and gives life and growth through our won experiences.

God who calls us into a community, with all our difference.

In how far does Christian spirituality shape your work?

Making a step towards the other is for us a step of faith. Listening, and trying to understand experiences shaped by culture – be they disturbing or up-building – is for us also a step of faith.

With the encounter groups attached to our Centre, we visit and pray with different churches and faiths. This brings diverse spiritual experiences, which also flows into our way of looking at things at FENZA.

What processes do you use or develop to analyse reality? How are these elaborated and how are they linked to pastoral care? How do you pass these processes on?

When dealing with complex cultural, spiritual and religious issues (witchcraft, spirit possession, initiation rites into womanhood/manhood, traditional healing, faith – healing, prayer experiences in different churches), we try to look at reality from many different angles, and bring together people with different competences. The groups whom we have initiated here at FENZA (Fingers of Thomas”, traditional healers, “Ifimbusa”) are used to this approach, and have made it their own.

What prophetic approaches does the institute put into practice with a view to shaping society?

Our Centre is small, and so is our influence. Our prophetic approaches come maybe from our practice to go to places where many Catholics find it difficult to go to (for example praying with different non-Catholic churches and faith), that we work hand in hand with groups of people who are highly stigmatised in Christian circles (for example our engagement with traditional healers), and that we are approachable for people seeking help when afflicted by Satanism or witchcraft.

What does the work of the institute involve exactly? (Framework conditions? Publications? Courses? Lectures? Congress?...)

Our library is open from Tuesday – Saturday every day. People find a qualified staff member who can introduce them to the right books, but also to the right person (for research, but also for pastoral help) if need be.

Our staff members give workshops wherever they are called. Our programmes are flexible and we try to fit into the expectations of people who call us. Some courses are given by us alone, others are given together with the voluntary groups formed and attached to FENZA (“Fingers of Thomas”, “Ifimbusa”).

Our language- and introductory course are advertised through our website.

Three times a year we send out a soft publication (through emails to our mailing lists), concerning topics that we have researched through FENZA. Topics are chosen which are of concern in the pastoral field.

3-4 times a year we organise a “FENZA-conference”, provoking discussions on issues of concern. We invite different speakers from diverse faith backgrounds.

All priests at FENZA are much involved in counselling, spiritual direction, family visits, on issues relating to our Centre’s concerns.

What magazines, periodicals, books, manuals, work aids, methodological instructions etc. does your institute publish?

Major research works are published in books or on the internet (which is of course much cheaper). Smaller documents, pastoral reflections, etc., are sent out through email publication or through the Website.

What do you consider to be the most important service of your institute?

From the beginning, our centre had three different engagements:

Information services (library, networks),

Engagement and reflection on cultural and religious issues of concern,

Ecumenism and interfaith dialogue.

We consider all three branches of equal importance.

How do you evaluate the work of your institute?

Our overall policies and frameworks are evaluated by the Board of Governors, which meets two times a year. Here the direction, focus, major activities and required budgets are agreed upon. All courses and workshops are evaluated by the participants. In our staff meetings we evaluate our common activities. Our published works are sometimes critiqued by the readers.

What are the most important developments that you are dealing with at present?

We are building a hostel (12 rooms), so to be able to offer resident courses. We hope that the hostel will also help us as an income generating programmes.

Fr. Mark Nsanzurwimo will join the FENZA team in 2012. We hope this will ease the staffing problems He is highly qualified for the work at our Centre (PhD in Missiology).

What are the main difficulties your institute is confronted with in its work?

Funding our projects is difficult. We have taken the option to go also to communities who can hardly pay for our services. This year our language courses (our main fundraising activity) were not well attended.

Staffing: much needs to be done (our field of work is very wide), but we are not adequately staffed. Especially our engagement in ecumenism and interfaith relations has been limping this year. Dome of the work entrusted to us is this field remains undone.

What challenges do you perceive for your institute at present?

Apart from the above: better integration into Diocesan programmes.

What hopes, dreams and visions do you have for your institute?

To bring more open reflection into the Zambian church and broaden historical cultural and religious awareness.

To be an active player in the field of ecumenism and interfaith relations.

To what extent does your institute support laypeople in the Church and in society?

Our present pastoral programmes (on witchcraft, Satanism, healing, ecumenism) are geared to empower laypeople to deal with such issues in a competent way and to encourage them to take initiatives.

How do you communicate your experiences and results to the respective local church, to neighbouring local churches and to other addressees (e.g. institutions affiliated to you)?

Our main tool of communication is our newsletters concerning the local church, we try to be present in Deanery, Diocesan and national forums, where we give reports of recent developments and findings. We also prepared some radio programmes. Our film production on Satanism has been aired a number of times on national TV.

To what extent does cooperation with the Bishops’ Conference of your country or with your diocese take place?

Most bishops of Zambia are well informed about what takes place in our Centre and what we offer. The Dioceses of Lusaka, Monze and Chipata so far have made regular use of our Centre. Within Lusaka Diocese we are in close contact with the Pastoral Coordinator. The Diocese also approaches us for opinions/evaluations of its own programmes.

What linkages/networks are in existence at national level?

On some programmes we work together with

The Jesuit Centre of Theological Reflection (JCTR)

The Major Seminar (St. Dominics)

Justo Mwale Theological College (Protestant)

Baptist Theological College

Zambian Association of Sisters (ZAS)

Association for Religious Men in Zambia (ARMZ)

Traditional Health Practitioners Association in Zambia (THPAZ)

What linkages/networks are in existence at international level?

We participate in the networks of the Missionaries of Africa.

We maintain links to KuNgoni Centre in Mua/Malawi and meet every other year with its staff.

We maintain links to the Centre for Social Concern in Lilongwe and participate in its programme on witchcraft.

We are part of two academic networks: “Network for Historical research in Zambia” and “Zambezi Studies”.

Our Website provided a link to a number of international inquiries.

MISSIO has been very supportive to us, financially , and by making our work known Kontinente, etc.).

What kind of interreligious cooperation does take place with non-Christian religions?

We have been cooperation on two projects with the Baha’l community of Zambia and with Eckkankar. We had close links with Muslim communities through the work of Fr. Gilles Mathorel and Fr. Felix Phiri, but could not maintain them as closely after their departure from Zambia.

What kind of ecumenical cooperation does take place with non-Catholic churches?

We take actively part in the Bauleni Churches Fellowship and in the Chilenje Pastors Fellowship. We engage lecturers from non-Catholic Theological Colleges in our conference.

Which theological mergers/associations are you affiliated with (personally or as an institute)?

Association of Bible scholars in Lusaka (Fr. Gotthard Rosner).

How can we assist you with your intercontinental exchanges and with exchanges between the continents?

With a yearly bulletin, making known the various centres and their areas of engagements.

  1. It would be interesting to know among other things whether course participants are active at parish, diocesan or supra-diocesan level and whether courses are attended by priests, religious or laypeople.
  2. It would be interesting to know among other things whether the staff members of the institute are priests, religious or laypeople.