Catholic Church establishes Oshakati Diocese

29 May 2019 | Local News

The Roman Catholic Church (RCC) in Namibia is dividing its Windhoek Diocese into two dioceses by establishing the Oshakati Diocese, based at Ongwediva.

Construction of the Ongwediva Cathedral is nearing completion and the inauguration is planned for Christmas this year, but the church's administrative centre will be in operation within a few months.

The Roman Catholic Church in Namibia is currently divided into three dioceses: the Rundu Vicariate Apostolic under Bishop Joseph Shikongo, the Keetmanshoop Diocese under Bishop Wellem Christian and the Archdiocese of Windhoek under Archbishop Liborius Ndumbukuti Nashenda.

According to Father Mathias Tshithigona of the Okatana parish, the Windhoek Diocese is very big and it caters to parishes in the coastal area and northern Namibia too.

“Bishop has to take church services to the north or the coast and because of the many parishes he has to stay for many days. The vicar-general has to take care of the bishop's office until the bishop is done with his tasks, which sometimes can take up to a month, which is a very difficult situation as many office matters have to wait for him,” says Tshithigona.

“To make things easier, the Catholic Bishops Conference of Namibia decided to divide the Windhoek Diocese into two dioceses. We will now have the Windhoek Diocese and the Oshakati Diocese, which will be based at Ongwediva.”

Tshithigona says the Oshakati Diocese will serve about 300 000 members from Tsumeb, Kamanjab, Opuwo and Mpungu, which is currently served by the Tondoro parish.

He said people must not expect the Ongwediva Cathedral to be the same as the Windhoek one, which has a school and a hospital too. At Ongwediva there will only be a priest's residence, a religious sisters' house, a kindergarten and a bookshop on the cathedral premises.

The Ongwediva Cathedral project coordinator, Mike Haidula, says the N$28 million complex is 95% complete. The project started last February.

The archdiocese, pastoral region, Religious Sisters' Organisation and Bookshop Society contributed the largest portion of the construction cost, while the Ongwediva Parish contributed N$2 million towards the project.

“The diocese needs to have a cathedral which is served by a bishop. We have not yet appointed a bishop, but sooner or later we will get a bishop who will be serving the clergy in the north. This does not mean that the bishop will be the one conducting church services; he appoints a priest to serve people,” Tshithigona said.

Tshithigona said the bookshop that is currently at Okatana Parish will be relocated to the cathedral in two months' time. The sisters from Okongo and Windhoek Parish have already started moving into their new home.



ILENI NANDJATO

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