Commemoration of 150 years of the M.Afr in Chipata diocese

Modéra Bazié2By Modéra Bazié, stagiaire

In order to commemorate the 150 years of the foundation of the Society of the Missionaries of Africa, the diocese of Chipata expressed its gratitude to the White Fathers by organising a pilgrimage of faith in Lumimba Parish run by our confreres.

On Saturday 20th October, a number of activities were held in Chasera; poetry, a play, a traditional dance presented by the students of the formation house in Chipata and football matches. Were present Bishop George Lungu, brethren from other Christian denominations and representatives from the Muslim community.

At the Sunday Eucharistic celebration, honourable chief Mwanya attested her happiness and the gratefulness of the people of Chasera for the work of our ancestors in the mission. She also expressed her thankfulness for the education and health facilities the missionaries have been given to the people of Chasera. She concluded: zikomo kwambiri, which means ‘‘thank you very much’’.

Bishop George Lungu expressed his joy of having missionaries in his diocese. He also prayed for the first confreres who planted the Catholic faith in Chipata. He encouraged all the religious over the diocese and the students of the Missionaries of Africa to take up the challenges of their time in order to bring the Gospel to all the whole world in the same spirit as the first missionaries did. All gratitude to the Missionaries of Africa, he said.

Chasera-01He also invited the Christians to be grateful for what the confreres have done and are still doing for them by supporting them. He concluded his speech with a special word of gratitude to Father Toon van Kessel for his wonderful work in Chipata diocese.

Finally, Father Adelarde Munishi thanked the Bishop, the whole diocese, the traditional believers and other denominations for their collaboration. We are all from one Family, the family of God – Banja Nyumba Ali modzi, he said. He expressed his gratitude to the Christians of Chasera for having hosted the celebration.

In this atmosphere of great joy, the celebration ended with the final blessing of Bishop George Lungu after the missionaries had sung the Sancta Maria.

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Official Opening of the SAP Pre-Formation Centre in Chipata, Zambia.

chipata-formation-centre-01bBy Timothée Bationo, M.Afr

The story started in Beira, Mozambique, in 2012 with a meeting of the Vocation Directors. They were looking for ways of improving their relationship between the four Sectors of the SAP Province and the Formation Centre in Balaka, Malawi, where our candidates make their studies in philosophy.

The creation of a Pre-First Phase was then proposed to the Provincial Council and forwarded to the General Council in Rome. A green light was given to build a centre in Chipata situated in the Eastern Province of Zambia. The town is surrounded by hills and is about 20 kilometres from Malawi and less than 140 kilometres to the Mozambican border. Therefore, the three countries could easily get involved in following the progress of their respective students.

Father Jean-Luc Gouiller started looking for a piece of land and the ground work started in 2014. The buildings were completed in December 2015. We entered into the centre in the second week of January 2016 with an initial number of 18 students from Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia. They remained up to June 2016. The second academic year started on October 12, 2016. The Formation Centre currently has once more 18 students together with three staff members, namely Brother René Garand, Father Camille Konkobo and Father Timothée Bationo.

The SAP Pre-Formation Centre was officially blessed by Bishop George Lungu on November 18, 2016. Mass was presided by the Bishop outside the premises as the church building would have been too small to contain the crowd. The Bishop was pleased to see that the official opening was just two days away from the closure of the Year of Mercy. Consequently, the official opening of the Formation Centre coincided with the closure of the Year of Mercy at the diocesan level.

Various committees from Saint Athanasio Parish were established to take care of the catering, liturgy, security and reception. By 05:00, they were already setting up everything before the arrival of the Christians and the Bishop at 7:00. Some members of the Provincial Council were delayed a bit at the border with Malawi.

Leading the procession, Bishop George Lungu and Father Felix Phiri, the Provincial, cut the ribbon at the main gate of the centre to symbolise the official opening of the Formation Centre while the diocesan choir sang a Thanksgiving song. In a colourful procession, the Bishop blessed the chapel and other buildings. At Mass, the Bishop praised the work done by the missionaries in the past, what they are doing today and what is to come. He was grateful to the Society for building a Formation Centre in his diocese. He encouraged the Formation House to open its doors to people who would like to have retreats. The Formators are welcomed exercising their apostolate all around Chipata.

The Provincial blessed each student with a symbolic cross representing the beginning of their formation.

All the missionaries, Fathers and Sisters, came together to sing the Santa Maria song. Few speeches were conducted at the end of Mass including Father Gouiller, Father Felix Phiri, Father Timothée Bationo, the Bishop, the DCL President and a Government Official. Finally, the Master of Ceremony, Father Kamanga, invited everybody to share a meal. A final blessing came at the end of the day with the first rain of the farming season.

Members of staff at the formation house will ever remain grateful to the people who took part in the organisation and preparations of the official opening of the centre. We will always remember you in our prayers as we preach the Word of God.

Merry Christmas to you all and a Prosperous New Year in 2017.

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Links: Lavigerie Formation Centre, Mchini Parish, Chipata.

Priestly Ordination of Emmanuel Mubanga in Minga, Zambia / First Mass at Kalichero

Emmanuel-Chisanga-Mubanga-00bThe 2nd August 2014 was a blessing to the Church in Chipata Diocese as seven of its sons, together with our confrere Emmanuel Mubanga, were ordained priests in Minga:  one for the Missionaries of Africa, one for the Comboni  Missionaries, one for the St Patrick Missionaries and  four for the Diocese of Chipata.  A rare event of its kind! An “amazing harvest”! A special gift on this Golden Jubilee of the Independence of Zambia and on the 25th anniversary of the visit pope John Paul II to Zambia, as Bishop George Lungu remarked.
On this special occasion, crowds of lay faithful, missionaries, priests and religious from all corners of Chipata Diocese and beyond flocked to Minga to witness  the event, to thank God and to support the seven young men. The M.Afr representation was equally impressive.  A delegation of 25 M.Afr, MSOLA and friends, led by the Provincial of the SAP and the Delegate Superior of Zambia Sector, was present at the ordination in Minga and the Thanksgiving Mass of Emmanuel Mubanga in Kalichero.
As the number of Zambian confreres keeps growing, we are likely to have more of these celebrations even though this one will remain unique.
They go out carrying seeds for the sowing; they come back, they come back full of song! (Psalm 126:6).
Congratulations and Fruitful ministry to Emmanuel Mubanga and his companions!
By Romaric Bationo, M.Afr

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Thanksgiving Mass of Fr. Emmanuel Chisanga Mubanga on the 3rd August 2014 at Kalichelo.
 After the solemn Mass of ordination of the seven deacons, i.e. four diocesans, one from St. Patrick Missionaries, one from Comboni Missionaries and our very own Emmanuel M.Afr, by Bishop George Lungu at Minga Parish, we went to Chipata were we would spend the night in readiness for the thanksgiving Mass the following day at Kalichelo Parish.
On Sunday 3rd August, we all left for Kalichelo which is about 45km from Chipata town. Upon arrival, we were warmly welcomed by the “amai apamtondo” (Catholic women) and the Parish Priest Fr. Mathias and his assistant Fr. Vincent. Shortly after dressing up we began the procession. It was colorful with about 14 priests and 10 stagiaires all in their “ganduras”, and one MSOLA sister. The Holy Mass started at 10:20 hours presided by Rev. Fr. Emmanuel Mubanga. We were welcomed with a song by the choir and the whole congregation. After the Gospel reading, Fr. Didasio Mwanza gave the homily. He urged the Christians to be always ready to offer themselves to the service of the Church in following Christ who offered himself for the salvation of all as a good shepherd. He further advised Fr. Emmanuel to love Christ, the Church and its people now that he has offered himself in “marriage” to the Church.
After communion, Fr. Emmanuel thanked different people who had been instrumental in his vocation journey and asked the people to pray for him as he would pray for them also. Speeches from the Parish council, the Parish priest, and Fr. Oswald the delegate superior followed.
Before the solemn blessing, the new priest was “commissioned” and sent. He carried the cross around the church escorted by all the Missionaries of Africa present and MSOLA as a symbolic gesture. We then committed our brother in the hands of our Mother Mary by singing the “Sancta Maria”.
After the Mass, we were all invited for the a special meal in the Parish hall were we interacted with the leaders of the church council, the religious who were present, friends and family of Fr. Emmanuel.
We wish Fr. Emmanuel Chisanga Mubanga God’s favor and blessings as he prepares to go to his first mission in Mali.
“….who will go for us? Here I am, I said… send me” (Is 6:8)
By Leandre Chembe, M.Afr

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