By Kalunga Musonda,
“Christ called me to be at the service of others by preaching his word,” this is the conviction of Humphrey Mukuka a catholic priest. His dream was to become a medical doctor or an engineer but his ambitions changed when he decided to join the vocation club at St Mary’s Parish in Kabwe.
He was in grade nine at Kalonga Secondary School at the time. He says it was during this time that he was exposed to different subjects concerning life and God’s mission in the world.
Fr Mukuka 31, is the fourth born in a family of seven and was brought up in a Catholic home. For his secondary education, Fr Mukuka was sent to Serenje Technical High School where he was inspired by the way Missionaries of Africa (the White Fathers) lived their lives.
“The mission of White Fathers is to serve in Africa and outside Africa where there are Africans serving as God’s messengers specifically to promote justice and peace.” he says.
Fr Mukuka says the missionaries work with other Christian denominations to spread God’s word through evangelism in Africa’s remote areas.
While still at school he visited the priests’ community regularly at St. Peter’s Parish in Serenje which was run by the society of the Missionaries of Africa. And with these interactions his desire of becoming a medical doctor or an engineer waned as he now wanted to be sent as a missionary wherever there was need to proclaim God’s message of love.
“I was deeply touched by their way of life demonstrated through an inter-cultural and simple life style coupled with service to the poor and oppressed in society,” he says. This inspired Fr Mukuka to become a priest and join the Society of the Missionaries of Africa.
“Before going for priesthood”, he says, “I met very good friends who were very committed to the scripture union – a prayer and Bible sharing gathering. The vocations club was equally raised during our time at school which motivated me to be what I am today.”
In 2006 Fr Mukuka began his journey to priesthood as a candidate Missionary of Africa in Arusha, Tanzania where he studied philosophy and psychology for three years. He was then sent to Bobo-Dioulasso in Burkina Faso in 2009-2012 and also did pastoral experience in Bandiagara in Mali from 2010-2012.
“When I completed pastoral experience I came home for a three months holiday to see my family,” he says.
Fr Mukuka was then sent to study theology in Abidjan, Ivory Coast from 2012-2015. He recently came back to Zambia for his priestly ordination which was held on June 27 at St. Veronica’s Parish in Kamushanga area in Kabwe. For his first mission appointment as a Catholic priest, Fr Mukuka has been sent to Aru in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
“Serving as a Catholic priest is very challenging, however, the Lord who called me to serve him will see me through difficulties and challenges; I firmly believe that God will never let me down.”, he said.
One thing Fr Mukuka knows for sure is that to be a successful and happy priest he needs to embrace prayer and the love for people.