Celebration at Mphangwe of 150 Years of the Foundation of the Missionaries of Africa, September 8th, 2018


By Fr Dave Cullen Dave Cullen - Chipata Hospital 2014 06 copie, M.Afr

Bishop George Lungu, the Ordinary of Chipata Diocese, graciously offered to commemorate the foundation of the Missionaries of Africa 150 years ago with two Masses in the diocese, one at Chasera where the missionaries first arrived, but for a very brief period, and the second at the first parish established by the Society in 1913 at Mphangwe. It was at there that we celebrated Mass on the Feast of the Birthday of the Blessed Virgin Mary on September 8th.

It was Katete Deanery that both prepared the celebration and, together with some help from other deaneries, funded the expenses involved. The Montfort Fathers, who are in charge of Mphangwe Prayer Centre, had put a great deal of effort to ensuring that the event was fittingly celebrated. Tarpaulins had been put up to enable almost everyone present to be shielded from the sun. Radio Maria was present to record the Mass and ensure that the loudspeaker system was in good order. A considerable number of the diocesan clergy concelebrated the Mass, together with a Comboni Missionary and several other priests, one coming from as far away as the United States on visit in Katete. Likewise, there were representatives from the various Religious Congregations, Sisters and Brothers. Parishioners from Mphangwe itself had also come in large numbers.

ZAMBIE 2The Mass was presided by the auxiliary bishop of Chipata Diocese, Benjamin Phiri. Before the Mass began, the bishop invited our Provincial, Fr Felix Phiri, to give a brief history of the work of the Missionaries of Africa in Chipata Diocese. It was, in fact, the Missionaries of Africa who founded the Church in the Eastern Province. In 1937 the Prefecture of Fort Jameson was established with Fr Fernand Martin as the priest in charge. At that time there were 3 missions in the care of ten Missionaries of Africa, strangely enough, precisely the number still doing apostolic work in the diocese today. However, those original ten eventually increased to fifty-five.

It was Fr Firmin Courtemanche who succeeded Fr Martin in 1947. He was ordained bishop and named Prefect Apostolic of Fort Jameson in 1953. The first diocesan priest in the Prefecture was Fr Zakaria Kapingira, ordained in 1939. The number of White Fathers, as they were then known, having been given that name in North Africa where they were distinguished by the white habit they wore, increased in the diocese during the Second World War that began in 1939, and many new mission stations were opened up by them. After the war, the number of diocesan priests gradually began to increase, foremost among them being Fr Medardo Mazombwe, ordained bishop in 1971 of what had now come to be named Chipata Diocese. He would later be transferred to Lusaka Archdiocese and be made a Cardinal.

As the number of parishes increased Bishop Mazombwe sought the help of other Missionary Societies, the Comboni Missionaries, Missionaries of St Patrick, known as the Kiltegan Fathers, Missionaries of Mary Immaculate, the Montfort Fathers and the Carmelites. Not only did the number of diocesan clergy begin to increase, but also Religious Congregations of Sisters, some from other countries, others from locally founded Congregations, caring for the sick in hospitals, teaching in schools and sharing in the apostolic tasks in a number of parishes.

Felix Phiri 03Fr Felix Phiri finished his presentation by giving thanks for those who had gone to the Lord as also by asking blessings on the Priests, Brothers and Sisters still offering themselves for the spread of the Kingdom of God in Chipata Diocese today.

After this introduction, before beginning Mass, Bishop Benjamin introduced to the congregation the Missionaries of Africa present, four of whom he described as our ‘Senior Citizens’, first of all Fr Henk van Kessel who, the previous day, had celebrated his 92nd birthday and is still very active as the diocesan archivist, Fr Joe McMenamin, Fr Toon van Kessel and Fr Dave Cullen, all of whom had given many years of service in the diocese. He then began the Mass which was offered prayerfully with the well-rehearsed contribution of the choir and Stellas.

After communion gifts were offered to the Missionaries of Africa, first by Bishop Benjamin, then by many of the clergy and Religious present, as also by many of the laity. As something of a finale, a group of Missionary of Africa students who were present at the Mass, together with a Missionary of Africa priest from Zambia itself, swaying rhythmically to the singing of the choir, brought a gift to the bishop. Coming from various countries in Africa they, together with the ‘Senior Citizens’ and the several other Missionaries of Africa present, witnessed to the international and multiracial character of the Missionaries of Africa.

After Mass all present were invited to a meal that had been prepared for us by our hosts and shared in the dining halls that the Montfort Fathers have had constructed for such events as that of today. From there we all departed in thankfulness and peace to our communities and homes.

ZAMBIE 1

A Night to Remember. Thieves in Chipata, Zambia.


Joe McMeninmem 2014 JPGBy Joe McMenamin, M.Afr

It all began at 23:30hrs on Friday 11th March 2016. I was awakened from sleep by what you could call thunderous banging on my bedroom door which was locked (the thieves didn’t have the manners to knock!). At first I thought the roof of our house was collapsing then, one wakes up to the reality, I realised it was at my bedroom door.

It all went so quickly. Suddenly the door was flung open, the light was switched on and I am face to face with two sturdy men (no masks). One was brandishing a steel bar called a crowbar the other had a knife. The command was given (they spoke in English) “money, money, we want your money, all your money”. I came out of the bed and went to put on my trousers. They ordered me, “get back, just sit there and don’t move”. They took some money that was on the table. Then they took the wallet from my trousers in which there was money. Again they demand “more money, more money” I told them I don’t have any more money, luckily there was very little money in my room at the time.

Then began the ransacking of everything in the room rifling through the cupboard, the filing cabinet and shelves opening drawers throwing all the contents on the floor. They picked through everything,  taking anything that they thought could be of value, some clothes, shoes, phones, watch, travel bag for putting in the stolen goods even a cross, etc. When I saw they had taken all the backups to my laptop computer, two external hard drives and memory sticks, they then went for the computer. I said, “no, don’t take my computer”. I pleaded until, to my great surprise, they put it back again on the table.

When all this was going on I could hear voices in Fr Dave’s room next door and I realised he was going through the same ordeal. Once over (20 minutes of humiliation), I went to console Fr Dave from whom they had taken everything of value in his room. Then, I thought of the watchman, is he OK? Has he been harmed? I kept calling him at the entrance to his little house. After some time, he eventually woke up oblivious of all that was going on. It was indeed “a night to remember” and also a lesson to be learned as the Bible puts it “be on your guard because you will never know when the thieves break in and steal”.

My version of our unwelcome visitors. By Dave Cullen 2014 PNGDave Cullen, M.Afr

This is what happened: we had a midnight visit from the thieves who broke into our house through the kitchen window, bending the security bars back and entering in. Suddenly the light was switched on in my bedroom and two young men with weapons in their hands (not guns) came in. I just stayed in bed and pointed to the drawer where there was some money. There came in two others who had found that Joe’s door was locked so it took them a bit of time to smash it open. Besides the money they also took my laptop, phone, watch, camera and a few other items. All my drawers were opened up and everything poured out all over the floor as also some clothes from my cupboard lest I was hiding something there. They also looked behind my pillow and mattress again searching for hidden treasures. Our watchman slept through it all! Anyhow we thank the Lord that we suffered no physical harm. We are in the process of hiring a more reliable security system and hope we will not have a repeat performance.

Thieves in Chipata - news March 15, 2016 copie

Dave Cullen; Hospital Chaplain in Chipata


Dave Cullen - Chipata Hospital 2014 06 copieDave Cullen is currently the Hospital Chaplain in Chipata, doing a remarkable work every day in the afternoon walking throughout the wards to pray with the sick. The establishment looks pretty good and large. Dave updates his list of sick patients and provides spiritual assistance with the help of Patricia, a lay volunteer. Here are some pictures of Dave in action moving up and down the aisles and stairs of the hospital.
Thanks to you Dave for your beautiful ministry.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Kalongwezi community as it has been during the last years


Kalongwezi community 2014Henk van Kessek 2014 JPGDuring the last years, we have most of the time been four or five members in the Kalongwezi community. Henk van Kessel, Dutch, 88 years old, is the unwearied and uncontested Archivist of the Diocese. He has also been the Chicewa/Chinyanja language professor for quite a long time, a job which regularly bounces back.
Dave Cullen 2014 PNGAfter the departure of Edgar Pillet in 2012, at 78, for retirement in France, Dave Cullen, English, of the same age, came to replace him as Chaplain of the Regional Hospital nearby, and, like Edgar also, he gives a help to the Marriage Encounter groups. He also does some visits to the local Prison. Both Henk and Dave go to St Monica’s Secondary School for Masses during the week.
Jean-Luc Gouiller 2014 JPGJean-Luc Gouiller, 78, French, who is linked with some groups of the Christian Agricultural and Rural Adult Movement. He has also been asked to update the demarcations and the title deeds of the various places held by the Diocese of Chipata throughout the Province, a work very much tied with the delicate land issue. He also takes part in some vocation work as do the other members of the community.
Joe McMeninmem 2014 JPGJoe Mc Menamin, Irish, 74, joined us after several years of missionary animation in Ireland. He replaced Edgar Pillet who was also a curate at the Mary Mother of God Parish of Nabvutika, a big compound of Chipata. After some time Joe became and still is the Parish Priest of that very parish.
Halen Kerketta  2014 JPGThe stagiaire Halen Kerketta, from India, is finishing his first year of Stage. He has some activities with the Youth Team of the Diocese and some others in Nabvutika Parish.
René-Garand-2014 JPGBrother René Garand, coming from South Africa, is joining the community and will supervise or follow up the construction work on the site of the new Preformation Centre.
READ HERE THE FULL TEXT ON PDF FILE