“You will not only represent the SMA or your dioceses abroad, but you will be ambassadors of Zambia as a nation.”These words were addressed to Fr. Peddy Sinda, Fr. Western Chewe, Fr. Deotacius Chikontwe, Fr. Chikosi Temani, and Fr. Bernard Mulongo, the five newly ordained priests of the Society of African Missions by the Zambian District Superior Fr. Ignatius Malwa. The ordination Mass was celebrated in the open air under the covid-19 restrictions, the family and friends expressed their joy in song and dance.
The five SMA plus a sixth candidate belonging to Kabwe diocese were ordained by Bishop Clement Mulenga of Kabwe Diocese on the 29th of August 2020.
A call to serve
In his homily, Bishop Clement Mulenga said that the six young men “are Christians chosen to be priests in order to serve God.” He added that “from a multitude of Christians who are chosen, God set them apart for His service.” In reference to Christ, the bishop said that “God sent His son to serve humanity, but Jesus knew that his work was a daunting one and that is why he chose those who would collaborate with him.”
Reminding them about the roles of a priest, Bishop Mulenga reiterated that they are “called to collaborate with their bishops as teachers of the faith.” Priesthood and even Christian life are not a bed of roses, it is strewn with a heap of challenges and that is why the bishop said, “we need the help of the Holy Spirit in order to be faithful.” Referring to the passion of St. John the Baptist, he said, “hitherto Christians are still being persecuted for their faith.” He told them, “the consecration will shortly set you apart, you will receive authority to teach and preach the gospel of Christ, you will be mandated to sustain the people of God to whom you will be sent.” Bishop Mulenga cautioned about the “absentee” priests. He asked them to be “present in their parishes,” that “Christians need them to celebrate the eucharist […] The work could be hard, but you are called to persevere, you are strong. Go and baptize, hear confessions, give the sacrament of the sick, and all the other sacraments.”
Bishop Mulenga at the end of the celebration thanked the SMA fathers for their presence in the Diocese of Kabwe. He acknowledged that the SMA is working in one of the most difficult missions. However, he did not shy away from asking for more missionaries: “This diocese is big, but the priests are few. We need courageous men to begin the mission in places like Lutambo and Ngabwe.”
For the newly ordained priests, a new missionary journey begins after nine years of formation. Addressing the newly ordained, Fr. Ignacious said, “[…] Open your hearts to the mission, enjoy your priesthood, love the people of God for they are good, and will always be there for you.” The District Superior’s speech would have been incomplete without undoing the suspense regarding the appointments of the newly ordained: Fr. Peddy Sinda is appointed to Sierra-Leone, Fr. Deotacious Chikontwe to Cairo in the delegation of Egypt and will be studying Islamology and will be part of the parish team in Choubra. Fr. Chikosi Temani is the first Zambian to be appointed to the SMA Zambian District just after ordination. He will assist Fr. Martin O’Farrell, SMA at Divine Mercy parish, and at the same time, he is appointed the Zambian District Secretary. Fr. Bernard Mulongo is appointed to the Nigerian Province and Fr. Western Chewe has been appointed to Rome for studies in Missiology.
The year 2020 will remain in the annals of history in the District of Zambia: five ordinations in one year, it is the first! It is not just a historical moment for the SMA District of Zambia, but indeed the entire SMA family. Other units have also had ordinations in the recent months: One from Benin, three from Côte d’Ivoire, two from the Democratic Republic of Congo, three from Ghana, two from India, one from Liberia, three from Nigeria, one from the Philippines, one from Slovakia, one from Spain, one from Tanzania, four from Togo and five from Zambia. This amounts to a total of twenty-eight priestly ordination for the year 2020.
All these men are called upon to be missionaries from the bottom of their hearts, to neglect nothing that might advance the work of God, and to seize every opportunity to preach the Gospel in the spirit of the founder of the Society of African Missions, the venerable Bishop Melchior de Marion Brésillac.