The Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM) has announced dates for ordinations of 14 deacons to diocesan priesthood in six of the country’s eight dioceses this year.
According to information compiled by ECM communications officer, Prince Henderson, the first ordinations will take place this coming Saturday, July 8, at Limbe and Mangochi cathedrals. Other ordinations will follow between July 15 and 29 in Lilongwe Archdiocese, and Zomba, Dedza and Chikwawa dioceses.
The ordination calendar starts on July 8, when Archbishop Thomas Luke Msusa of Blantyre will ordain to priesthood deacons Blessings Maere and Faduweck Katunga at Limbe Cathedral while in Mangochi, bishop Montfort Stima will preside over a double celebration of ushering to priesthood deacons Kondwani Matupa and Andrew Kasambara, and a thanksgiving mass for Fr Lazarus Girevulo who has clocked 25 years in priesthood.
In Lilongwe, ordination of deacons Demetrio Banda, John Kaliwamba and Dennis Mwanza by Archbishop Tarcisius Ziyaye will take place at Maula Cathedral on July 15 2017.
The calendar indicates that Chikwawa and Zomba dioceses will take their turn on July 22, and the ceremonies will be led by bishops Peter Musikuwa and George Desmond Tambala, respectively.
“In Chikwawa, those to be ordained are deacons Tobias Mbalale, Shadreck Malata (all from Chikwawa Parish), and James Chidale from Njale Parish while at Zomba Cathedral the spotlight will be on Deacon Andrew Chikapa of Mayaka Parish,” says Henderson.
According to the calendar, the last ordination of diocesan priests this year will be on July 29 at Mtendere Parish in Dedza Diocese, where bishop Emmanuel Kanyama will usher to priesthood deacons Gift Selemani, Paul Kunkumbira and Silvester Mtasa.
It further indicates that bishop Kanyama will, during the ceremony, also ordain Holy Ghost congregation seminarians Andrew Kasiya, John Luwani and Francisco Ndelemani.
The information from ECM adds that, on a date yet-to-be announced, Mzuzu Diocese will also witness the ordination of a priest belonging to one of the religious orders.
The bumper harvest of priests this year comes in the wake of a recent complaint by Archbishop Msusa over shortage of pastoral workers, especially priests, in his archdiocese.
“We have lost a number of priests this year alone, and the ordination of the two will not make much difference when we compare with the growing number of Christians,” Msusa was recently quoted as saying.
Meanwhile, the national Pontifical Mission Societies (PMS) director Fr. Vincent Mwakhwawa has described the ordination of the many priests this year as positive and encouraging.
“It is encouraging that young men are able to sacrifice themselves to priesthood. Let them [young men] know that sacrificing to priesthood is like sacrificing for others.
“In priesthood, there is joy, service, and, of course, national service, so let many youths join priesthood,” said Fr. Mwakhwawa, whose office also promotes vocations in the Church.
The nine-year journey to priesthood of deacons Maere and Katunda, symbolises that of almost all diocesan priests.
Deacon Maere did his secondary education at St. Paul Mlare Minor Seminary before joining the Major Seminary. He comes from Mtepuwa Parish in Mulanje whereas Deacon Katunga, who comes from Chiringa Parish in Phalombe, went to Pius XII Minor Seminary for his secondary education.
The two have completed their priestly formation, which started with a year of spiritual formation, three years of philosophy and four years of theological studies and one pastoral year in the field.
According to communications secretary for the Archdiocese of Blantyre, Fr Frank Mwinganyama, the archdiocese has over one and a half million Catholics in 41 parishes being served by about 80 priests. n