Our confrère Jean-Luc André Gouiller, M.Afr, leaving Zambia for France, his home country, on 4th October 2017


« Ce n’est qu’un au revoir, mon frère,

Ce n’est qu’un au revoir!

Oui, nous nous reverrons, mon frère, ce n’est qu’un au revoir!’ »

Jean-Luc_Gouiller

By Venerato Deus Babaine, M.Afr, Provincial Delegate – Zambia, October 03, 2017

Farewell to you!

The Biblical Ecclesiastes, was right when he said that there is time for everything, time for coming and time for going.

We appreciate the good service you rendered to our missionary family in Zambia, the Catholic Church in AMECEA Region and France. You arrived in Zambia in 1966, as a vibrant young man born at Colligny-Ain. You have spent most of your life in Zambia as a vibrant, committed missionary passionate about the Zambian people, un missionnaire sans frontières, vraiment!

You put all your talents, experience and gifts at the service of your confreres and the people of God. Your simplicity and down-to-earth approach will be remembered. The people you have served, will always remember you, Abambo Gouiller. As you return to your homeland your heart must be pregnant with so many memoirs of the people you met in Zambia, in Kenya and other countries you went to during your active missionary life. These are the stories that will gladden your heart as you look back to the mission in Africa especially in Zambia.

We appreciate that you will have some time to be in your country France, to have a time with retired missionaries from other parts of Africa and a time with some members of your family; the children, grandchildren and great-grand-children of Lucien and Marie. Your father died when you were just six years in the mission and your mother died when you were twenty years in the mission. Their care and prayers for you have been a source of strength and faith for you to live a missionary life to the full.

Your missionary life in Zambia started in Kanyanga in 1966. You worked as a pastor, as a teacher, chaplain, leadership of our then region and supported special apostolates like the laity and CARYM. Your passion for justice and integrity of creation is special. Your last apostolate to put in order the land ownership of Chipata diocese has been tough, frustrating but the efforts you made will have lasting results and will be a great help to the diocese.

Your missionary life has been marked by a spirit of availability and new insights for the mission in Africa. You have been a community life man. You promoted and lived a simple-life style that has been a witness to many. You loved to see new Zambian vocations; you have seen them make oath and take positions of leadership in our missionary family. Some of us have been inspired by your devotion to prayer life.

We thank God who has guided you in your mission. We thank your family that has been supporting you in many ways. We thank you for you service and fraternity to us!

Keep us in prayer, pray for the missions and church in Zambia. Mwende makora abambo Gouiller!

Messages from Confreres:

From Michel Meunier, M.Afr.

Dear Jean-Luc, Thank you for all what you have done and all that you have been for Zambia in particular and for Africa in general, especially during your years spent in Gaba Pastoral Institute. You have been a model and an inspiration for many. United in the same Mission.

From Christophe Boyer, M.Afr, du Caire:

Jean-Luc, Je te souhaite un bon retour en France. Merci pour ton service conciliant foi et engagements socio-politique. Que ton expérience Zambienne soit une source de gratitude et de joie offerte à tes relations.

From Filiyanus Ekka, M.Afr

Dear Fr. Jean-Luc Gouiller, Many greetings from Filiyanus Ekka in India. I thank you very much for your dedicated service to the people of God in Africa -ZAMBIA. Your Missionary zeal was lesson for me and it is still motivating me in my priestly life. You took care of Vinod very well and in heaven he is remembering you. May God Bless you.

From Réal Doucet M.Afr

Mon cher Jean-Luc, Nous ne nous connaissons pas beaucoup pour avoir travaillé dans différents lieux de mission, mais cela ne m’empêche pas de rendre grâce à Dieu pour ta qualité de présence en Zambie durant tant d’années. Si aujourd’hui il y a des jeunes Zambiens dans la maison de formation où je suis présentement, c’est grâce à des hommes comme toi qui ont su montré par leur engagement et dévouement auprès des gens que la vocation missionnaire était une bénédiction non seulement pour les gens mais aussi pour eux-mêmes. Continue dans ton ministère missionnaire à prier pour ceux qui prennent notre place lorsque le temps est venu de tourner une belle page de notre histoire de vie. Que Dieu fasse fructifier toutes tes années vécues en Afrique et pour l’Afrique. Beni soit-il !

History of the beginning of the Catholic Church in Zambia in Chipata, Eastern Province.


Meeting of all Priests of Chipata Diocese April 2-5, 2017 at the occasion of the 125th anniversary of the Catholic Church in Zambia.

History Catho Church ZambiaBy Fr. Jean-Luc Gouiller, M.Afr 04/04/ 2017

On the page one of the “History of the Catholic Church in Zambia” by Fr. Hugo Hinfelaar, in 2004, we read: “1891 is often considered the year when the Catholic Church was established in our part of Africa now called Zambia when the Missionaries of Africa settled near Mambwe Mwela. But the people of Zambia had been in contact with Catholic Christendom from the beginning of the eighteen century onwards. (…)

The Portuguese-speaking Dominical Missionaries had arrived around 1730 in a market place known as Feira by the Portuguese, situated at the confluence of the Luangwa River and the Zambezi River, near the District Centre of present day Luangwa. (…)

By then, the Chiti mukulu dynasty had been established in Bembaland which had had some contact with Christianity. Their Paramount Chiefs claimed to have come from Kasai in the Congo with some of the sacred relics of Catholic Portuguese origin. (…)

Some Catholic Christians came from India. We know that after Jesus’s departure some of his apostles went to India to bring the Good News of Jesus, the most well-known of them being St Thomas. A place in India became well-known for its Catholics: Goa. This is how, in the 18th century, some Dominican Friars from Goa came to Mozambique as missionaries. Some Catholic priests would come to administer the sacraments and teach catechism. (…)

In 1754, still from India, some resident parish priests came to Mozambique to be in charge of the station of Zumbo. A certain Fr. Pedro, from Goa, became very well known. People would say of him that he had planted the tree of the Holy Gospel. All this very near what is now Zambia, and certainly at times in Zambia. One day, Fr Pedro even met somebody in authority called Mazombwe, whom he wanted to stay with. Fr Pedro was also a medicine man. He died in 1751. His funeral attracted many people, apparently thousands of Cewa, Nsenga, Bisa, and Kunda people. (…)

When the well-known Protestant missionary explorer Livingstone passed where Fr. Pedro had been he still found the remnants of his church and a broken bell. (…)

At the beginning of the 1880s, the Jesuit missionaries opened a small mission among the valley Tonga at Mwembe and visited the Litunga, Lewanika, King of the Lozi at Lealui. However, because of a lot of setbacks, sicknesses and deaths, they abandoned their project a few years after. (…)

Another example around 1798: On the “Danger Hill” road, north of Mpika, a monument has been erected in remembrance of the journey of the Portuguese explorer Jose Maria Delacerda el Almaida. On a board we read this: Was Dr in mathematics, some time he was the royal astronomer in Lisbon, Portugal, Governor of a region in Mozambique and leader of an expedition to cross Africa. Later he also established a chain of fortified trading posts between Mozambique and Angola. He had set out from Tete with a large party including nine Europeans to reach the town of Chief Kazembe, a very well-known Chief at the south of lake Mweru. But he fell sick and died of exhaustion. His diary gives us the first accurate account of the country and its people of the Eastern part of “Northern Rhodesia in Zambia. The expedition returned to Tete under a Father Pinto. (…)

In the Bangweolo there is the mention of a very gentle person, Luchere Nganga, from Brazil, who went to many places helping people to forget about their differences and jalousies. One day he disappeared after having said, it seems, that another one, apparently a missionary (or several of them) would come in the future dressed in white.”

Cardinal_LavigerieNow let us see the position of Cardinal Lavigerie, Bishop of Algiers and founder of the Missionaries of Africa in 1868, and of the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Africa in 1869, first called “The Agricultural and Hospital Sisters”. Little by little, Lavigerie was getting ready to send his Missionaries in Central Africa.

In 1878, a group of three set out for Central Africa by a long way which they thought safe, accompanied by guides apparently very cooperative. But, in a desert, they killed the three Missionaries. Three more Missionaries followed another new way and were also killed. It was clear that another way to go to Central Africa would need to be found. This is what was planned for 1889.

Cardinal Lavigerie sent four Missionaries to the South of Malawi. These were: Fr. Adolphe Lechaptois, Fr. Valentin Heutebize, a Brother builder Antoine Verkuelen and Fr. Joseph Mercui. They were sent to a place where they could probably meet some Portuguese Christians. They arrived at Mponda on 28th December 1889, but at a time when they were some troubles between two groups of colonisers: the English and the Portuguese. The area had just been declared a “British Protectorate”. The newly arrived Missionaries were in a dilemma.

Great Britain’s plan (ambition) was to be “at home” from Cape Town in the South to Kairo in the North. Hence the name of “Cairo Road” given to a street of Lusaka town in present Zambia. The Portuguese had another ambition: they had been in that part of Africa since the 16th century. They too felt at home over there. They wanted to link together for themselves the East of Central Africa, Mozambique, with the West: Congo and especially Angola.

However, in the meantime, the four Missionaries had started some activities, especially caring for the sick and organising a school for young people, which they very much enjoined. But on the other hand the Missionaries were not at ease with the local Chief “Mponda” and some of his people.

A decision had to be taken: to go elsewhere. Lavigerie himself, from afar, had realised that the members of another denomination had been campaigning against the Catholic Missionaries, and Chief Mponda was disappointed because he had not received guns or whatever else from the Missionaries of Africa.

ob_8b5b72_siege-de-la-african-lakes-companyThe new plan of Lavigerie was to ask the four Missionaries to go to Karema in Tanganyika (now Tanzania). So the four Missionaries left Mponda in June 1891 by boat towards Karonga on the shore of Lake Malawi. Then they were to travel by following the “Stevenson” Road up to Lake Tanganyika. With the help of an Englishman agent of the African Lakes Company, they gathered a large group of men to protect them and help them carry their luggage. On their journey, men, women and children whose villages had been destroyed by the slave traders, joined them.

They were well received when passing through the village of Chief Mambwe. However, by then, the young Fr. Heurtebise had contacted a bad malaria. He was very sick and his companions were afraid that he would not survive. Providentially, they found a place called in Chimambwe “mwela”, meaning “wind”, because it is in a high place and with a cold weather. They settled in a shed built but then abandoned by the African Lake Company. In July 1891, because of the sickness of Fr. Heurtebise, they began to organise a place as if it was to become a Mission Post. Brother Anton began to build a house for the Missionaries and started a garden while Fr. Heurtebise, feeling better, started to instruct a number of people using the little they knew of Kiswahili, Chichewa and Chimambwe. That was a beginning of evangelisation in Zambia.

cropped-mambwe-mwila-06-08-2016-18-jpeg.jpgMambwe-Mwela becomes a Mission.

 During that time Fr. Lechaptois managed to travel as far as Karema (in Tanganyika) to inform the other missionaries of their intention of establishing a permanent Mission post at Mambwe-Mwela. He dedicated the new Mission to Mary, Our Lady of the Angels. Fr. Heurtebise, sick with malaria, was persuaded to go back home in France. Fr. Lechaptois was appointed Superior of the Missions in Tanganyika, where he would become a Bishop later. He was replaced in Mambwe- Mwela by Fr. Depaillat.

At the end of the rainy season, in May 1892, their new house was hit by lightning. The grass roof burned down. However, more and more visitors (traders, hunters, explorers) were coming to see them seeking accommodation for a night or two. Unfortunately, problems were developing in the area around Mambwe-Mwela, as the Mission was squeezed between the territory controlled by the British South Africa Company and the Tanganyika Territory.

During that period, a new Father, Achille van Oost, arrived and saw the difficult situation of this new Mission Post. He then began to look further South, in the Bemba country, for a new foundation. In January 1894 he succeeded in establishing a first contact, and then a second, with Chief Makasa, explaining to him that he was a God’s messenger. It impressed the Chief, who, in March 1895 offered him to settle to Kayambi. Unhappily, Fr. Achille van Host died on 20th April 1895. His grave is at Mambwe- Mwela. But the idea of building a Mission in Kayambi remained in spite of a fear that Chief Chiti Mukulu would not approve it. He accepted it.

In May 1895, Fr. Lechaptois, Bishop in Tanganyika, came to bring a successor to Fr. Van Host: Fr. Joseph Dupont who would be nicknamed “Motomoto”. Together they visited Chief Makasa. Fr. Dupont immediately took up the challenge of setting up the new foundation of Kayambi. But it was not a simple project, they would have to move with more than two hundred people (some of them orphans of parents killed in war) who lived with them at Mambwe- Mwela. Some others were young men and women who had been prisoners of war and were bought as slaves from various chiefs by the Arab slave traders, but who had been redeemed by the missionaries.

Two months later, in July 1895, the Missionaries, together with their people, started on their journey to Chief Makasa village first. The Chief was not very happy with so many people but Fr. Dupont showed his bravery and strength of character until Chief Makasa allowed them all to move to Kayambi. So, July 1895 became the date of birth of the first permanent Mission post of the Diocese of Chipata and even Zambia as a whole.

Development of the Diocese of Chipata.

Bishop Dupont (Motomoto) was ever ready to advance the development where he was at ease, mostly at first in the Bemba area, just as the Abemba were also very at ease with Motomoto. In 1895 he was sent to Nyasa. (Nyasa was the name given by the Yao people to lake Malawi). Motomoto was consecrated Bishop on 15th August 1895 in Kayambi.

Regularly, at first, new Missionaries would arrive in the country, learn the language spoken where they were posted and get involved in the evangelisation of the people they were sent to, and work in the various activities needed.

In 1899, after some teaching in France, the French Father Mathurin Guilleme was sent first to Zanzibar to take charge of the ‘procure’ and receive the newcomers or those going on leave. There, with his own eyes, Fr. Guilleme saw the horrors of the slave trade. He used some funds of the Holy Childhood and of St Peter Claver to buy back some 1500 boys and girls, including from Congo. In 1899, Fr. Guilleme founded Chilonga. Later he was asked to replace Bishop Dupont who had gone to France for rest. While acting as Bishop, Fr. Guilleme founded Chiwamba, Mua, Kachebere, Nguludi and Kambwiri. These new foundations nicely gave life to the southern part of Nyasa.

On 24th February 1911, Fr. Guilleme was chosen to succeed Bishop Dupont. Something new and very appreciated by all, happened sometime later in January 1913: Bembaland called “Bangweolo” was entrusted to Fr. Étienne Larue, while the Southern part kept the name of “Apostolic Vicariate of Nyasa”, under Mathurin Guilleme. All would be less under pressure. Fr. Guilleme was ordained Bishop in Baudouinville (Congo) on 18th June 1911. Nyasa had had five Mission stations and the new episcopal residence was Bembeke. Bishop Guilleme decided to found a station to the West of Kachebere: Mphangwe. Until that time the “Shire” in what is now Malawi was still served by the Apostolic Vicariate of Nyasa. Little by little it would be only in the hands of the Montfort Fathers, whom Bishop Dupont had called for, without really referring the matter to Rome. But it was finally recognised by Rome.

The First World War diminished the number of Missionaries since some were called as army chaplains. When the war was over, Bishop Guilleme was able to realise one of his dreams: to open a Mission in Sengaland: Minga Mission. He also founded more Missions in Nyasaland.

By the time Bishop Guilleme was 76 years old, he had the consolation of ordaining his successor, Father Oscar Julien. Bishop Guilleme died on 7th April 1942, at 82 years saying; “Into your hands I commend my spirit, ô Lord”.

When Bishop Julien (“Juliere”) started his work, his diocese was a new arrangement of various Vicariates. Bishop Julien had to get used as to which places or peoples of his Vicariate were in; Malawi or Zambia. Moreover, in the North of his Vicariate, the new “Mission sui Juris” of Luangwa was also a little in the same situation; they even had an “Itinerant Catechist school” to make it easier to serve all people. But being given the shape of his Vicariate, as soon as Bishop Julien took charge of it, he transferred his headquarters to Kachebere in order to be within easy reach of all his Missionaries scattered in the various parishes. Between Minga and Naviruli, after having bought a farm he opened Chassa Mission in May 1936. In 1935, he organised and held a synod to discuss Catholic Action, the foundation of a postulate for indigenous Brothers and a common policy to be followed in the different Missions. In fact, they realised that they somehow were in advance concerning Catholic action. Concerning a novitiate for indigenous Brothers, it was thought difficult, at such a point that after some time the effort did not have a happy ending. In 1944 he went home for a long rest. Rome accepted to release him.

On the 1st of July 1937, the Roman Congregation for the Propagation of Faith made a decree, establishing a new ecclesiastical unit made up of Lundazi District which until then had been part of the Luangwa sui juris and the new Apostolic Prefecture of Fort Jameson as well as Petauke District which it received from the Vicariate of Nyasa. This territory was exactly what the Eastern Province of Zambia would be after independence.

Obviously, the rearrangement done for the new Apostolic Prefecture of Fort Jameson of which Monsignor Martin was made the Prefect in 1937, was a very significant arrangement. It was making it possible to have an easier and better unity between people having the same political boundaries, the same administrations or syllabuses in school, a greater unity between the different parishes. Though reluctant to accept his appointment at first, Monsignor Martin worked hard until 1947 to bring unity in his Prefecture and prepare for the future.

At the arrival of Bishop Firmin Courtemanche and later Bishop Medardo Mazombwe and nowadays Bishop George Lungu, and his Auxiliary Bishop Benjamin Phiri, the Diocese did not need big readjustments. But it was and still is the time for new Congregations or Societies to come and enrich the Diocese with their own charisma, the time also for new parishes, to give the chance to many faithful to gather nearer their homes.

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History of the Catholic Church in Zambia, considering the whole country.

The Jesuits Missionaries

After their first attempt to go as Missionaries especially in the West and South West of Zambia, they let a few years pass and they tried again. Fathers involved:  Frs Prestige, Moreau and Torrend in particular.

The first place they chose to become a Mission was Chikuni, not far from Chisekesi in the north of it.  They found plenty of land around near the Magoye River. The BSA (British South African Company) gave them a freehold contract.

Once the routine of evangelisation had started around Chikuni itself, they took the decision to continue northwards to possibly find another Mission place starting from the Ngwerere River. One day, the unbelievable happened. The team of walking Missionaries had with them a young man called Francis Borja, whom they had saved from raiders. As they walked their way forward on the road, some people walking in the other direction met them. Then they recognised in the first group their own son walking with the Missionaries. It was him indeed, what a joy for the parents (He was lost but now found!). What a surprise for all, a great sign of the Providence.

Then after the joyful encounter, the Missionaries went on walking and walking until they found a site fitting, according to their desires for a second foundation. The people called the place Kasisi. It was about 230 km from Chikuni.

The group started building provisional shelters, preparing a place for a garden and making a small dam. It was Christmas time. Some people living there build a small chapel. Later they would build schools. Some other local people gave the Missionaries a dozen heifers and some oxen to start with. Not far away a certain place called “Rusangu” had already been taken by the 7th Day Adventist Church. The Providence was with them all.

On Kasisi and Chikuni, Frs Moreau and Torrend have always insisted on improving agriculture, especially by using cattle for ploughing. From long ago the Tongas are proud of their cattle, still more then because of the help it can give for development.

Other foundations within Zambia by the Missionaries of Africa in the Luapula: Lubwe: 1895-1905.

Some Missionaries of Africa were appointed to Chilubi Island. People had heard about the good work they had done elsewhere. They were happy to receive them. One well-known Father was Fr. Foulon.

Straight away they started meeting the people around in the small or big islands in Lake Bangweolo. With the Montfort Fathers helping in Nyasa, some Missionaries of Africa had become free for the Bangweolo. So the Luapula Province was going forward. The building of Kapatu and Chibote was done at that time.

During the first decade of the 20th century, the Missionaries of Africa founded no fewer than seven mission stations. The Jesuit Missionaries did the following foundations: Katondwe, Kapoche and Ching’ombe near the Eastern Province. Eight White Sisters arrived in Zambia to start a convent in Kayambi. Other Sisters, of Notre-Dame of Namur, arrived at Chikuni.

But the First World War which started in 1914 made life difficult and some Fathers had to return to France as soldiers in the trenches. Some years after the end of the war, the ideology of the “Indirect Rule” was pushed through.

During the 1930s, a wave of Catholic Missionaries arrived in Northern Rhodesia. It has been an important decade of the history of the Missions: arrival of Franciscan Friars and some missionaries from Poland. Chikuni school became an educational Centre. Still during the 1930s, the Missionaries of Africa established themselves more than before in the North of Zambia, in town. The Conventual Franciscans came to Ndola. Seeing the “Barotseland” in need, the Capuchins arrived. Groups of Brothers and Sisters came for schools and other types of formation helpful for the development of the country.

Then, a bit too fast, came the Second World War which had some serious repercussions for the Missions because it meant cutting off both personnel and money. It was a time of great financial difficulties. However, it must be recognised that the two World wars have made things and people also change for the better. But the Lenshina independent Church was a dramatic experience.

With the coming back of peace, Christian life had started growing in towns. The formation of the local clergy, Priests and Sisters, was getting organised, putting into practice what Pope Pius XI had asked for in the past, the “plantare Ecclesia”. Catechists and laity joined in, and the local hierarchy was taking its place. Little by little a Catholic Secretariat was being organised to guide both the clergy and the lay people.  The coming of Independence, 1950-1964 and after, was a challenge to all. The growing Church could not let that time pass without getting involved in the development happening in the country and in planning for the future. The national Office of Social Education, started by Fr. Calmettes, helped people to understand the numerous declarations.

Indeed, like the country as a whole, the Church also was “coming of age”.  Many were the topics which had to be talked about, one of them being for instance the “Philosophy of Humanism” launched by President Kenneth Kaunda or the “Scientific Communism”.

Hugo HinfelaarLittle by little, up to our modern times, themes for discussion have become “plenty”. But many more also are the people who are able to discuss them, explain them and see what they mean for us in our modern life.  In his book History of the Catholic Church in ZambiaFr Hugo Hinfelaar has recalled and presented many of the topics which make the life of modern Zambia and our Church more understandable and challenging!  If you have the book, let us enjoy it and learn from it!

May God bless Zambia and its people!

History of the beginning of the Catholic Church in Zambia in Chipata, Eastern Province.

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.

Lavigerie Formation Centre, Mchini Parish, Chipata.


Jean-Luc Gouiller 2014 JPGOn Malawi Road, after the Luthembwe Bridge, near Chipata Town, Chief Mpezeni area, Eastern Province of Zambia.

By Jean-Luc Gouiller, M.Afr

The Lavigerie Formation Centre of the Missionaries of Africa is a “Pre-First Phase” for our candidates to missionary life. They are from our Sectors, namely Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa and Zambia. The Formation Centre has a capacity of welcoming twenty aspirants. The first group came on 15th January 2016 and left it on 17th June 2016. A second group arrived on 12th October 2016 and will leave on 15th May 2017.

However the official opening of the Centre took place only on Friday 18th November 2016 when people around have become more familiar with us. That day was a real feast, gathering around us some Christians of Mchini Parish and Chipata in particular. The Right Reverend Bishop George Z. Lungu thought it meaningful that the celebration be also one of the ceremonies closing the year of Mercy. The celebration took place outside, a very well-animated liturgy by various groups, and choirs.

The morning was announced as to be sunny, and it was indeed, but an abundant rain (a blessing in this time of the year) came as we were finishing our celebration.

chipata-lavigerie-formation-centreThe Catholic Church has already taken deep roots in the Eastern Province of Zambia. Like many Catholics in Zambia, the Church in Chipata and in the neighbouring Malawi have celebrated the centenary of evangelisation already at the beginning of the 1990ies. Our Protestant Brothers are also many.

In 1937, Monsignor Ferdinand Martin was appointed to the newly founded “Apostolic Prefecture” of Fort Jameson (now Chipata). He came to settle on a farm on the side of the main road coming from Malawi, some ten kilometres before Fort Jameson. That place came to be known as “SANCTA MARIA MISSION”. The sandy road leading to it is still there, as it can be seen. Santa Maria became a very vibrant Parish.

After ten years, in 1947, Mgr. Martin left the place, but he left behind him a well-established Mission, with priests and probably brothers, catechists, and many “outstations” for Christians in various places. Moreover, at that time, the Prefecture already had several Zambian Priests.

Bishop Courtemanche was appointed to take the place of Mgr. Martin and moved to Fort-Jameson. Mgr. Courtemanche would remain in Fort Jameson until the appointment of the then Fr. M. Mazombwe in 1970 (ordained Bishop in February 1971) as Bishop of Fort Jameson. The Zambian Church was “coming of age”.

In 1965/66, Santa Maria was not central anymore for the many Catholics in Chief Mpezeni area, as well as other Chiefdoms. So another place was chosen as “Mission”: Msipazi. But because money was scarce at that time, it was decided that the bricks, and some other building material needed for the construction of Msipazi, would be taken from the existed buildings of Santa Maria. At the same time the bricks of Naviruli were transported to the other newly planned parish of Chadiza.

In 2013, came the decision to build the M.Afr “Lavigerie Formation House”. Chipata being indeed a real centre of the new Southern Africa Province, thoughts revived the souvenir of the old “Santa Maria”. What a dream!

And what a reality too! Indeed after some search for a place, we found it at some 1,500 metres from Santa Maria, going towards Chipata. Providence has indeed helped us to find what has become the “Lavigerie Formation Centre” … somehow a resurrection of Santa Maria! We are grateful to all who have helped us to reach our goal. Thanks be to God.

chipata-town

P.S.: Jean-Luc Gouiller arrived in Zambia in April 1966. One of the first places he visited, with Fr. Hannecart, is Santa Maria. He cannot forget it. It was the time of the demolition. Fr. Mazombwe was there as a teacher in the pre-seminary.

90th Birthday Celebration of Fr Henk Van Kessel in Chipata.


feast-henk-03Article and photos by Fr Camille Konkobo, Vocation Promoter.

Fr Henk van Kessel has clocked 90 years old of age on the 7th September 2016. The Missionaries of Africa in Chipata organized a celebration for him on September 11. Close to 30 people gathered around him; religious men and women and lay people.

Prayers and a meal were shared including the raising of a glass for a toast in his honor lead by Fr G. Nyoni, diocesan Pastoral Coordinator in Chipata. Being asked his secret of his longevity, he simply replied; “Do not stop breathing!” On behalf of the Missionaries, Fr Jean Luc Gouiller spoke kindly about Fr Henk who himself encouraged each one to remain disciplined and moderate in our way of life. “The secret of reaching 90 years is regularity, discipline and prayer”. He added: “I am happy to celebrate this moment with you all”.

feast-henk-01Fr Henk took the opportunity to thank everybody who made it possible for him to be who he is today. He expressed gratitude to Fr Camille Konkobo for being instrumental in organizing and inviting all the communities within Chipata for the event.

In return Fr Camille thanked also the invited guests and all the confreres who sent a message of best wishes to Fr Henk. Those messages were read at the great amazement of each one. The day ended with the blessing of Fr Henk.

feast-henk-02The psalmist says in Ps 90. 10: “Seventy is the sum of our years, or eighty if you are strong.” Where can we put Fr Henk? Has he not challenged the psalmist? Reverend Fr Henk, ad Multos Annos!

Henk van Kessel appointed Knight of the Order of Orange, Chipata, Zambia.