Bishop Martin Anwel Mtumbuka of Karonga Diocese has urged Christians to be mindful of the heavy price Jesus paid for the salvation of the world, saying his suffering is incomparable to any debt in the world.
Bishop Mtumbuka said this in on Good Friday in Chitipa when he led over thousands of Christians of St Michael’s Parish in a 4 kilometer long Way of the Cross from St Kizito Conference Centre to the parish centre.
During the Way of the Cross, Christians relive the passion of Jesus Christ from his condemnation to death by Roman Governor of Palestine, Pontius Pilate, to his crucifixion, death on the cross and burial.
In his sermon, Bishop Mtumbuka exhorted Christians to guard themselves against greed for money. He called on people who get rich through corrupt means to learn from Judas Iscariot that there is no better end. For love of money, Judas Iscariot who sold Jesus Christ and later killed himself.
Furthermore, the Bishop reminded the Christians that there is no one who could have done what Jesus did. To be a Christian one needs to have a strong faith in Christ.
“Christians should know that they are not mere people; Jesus bought them by His blood.” said the Bishop.
“I want to assure you that Jesus gave his life to save us. When you receive the sacrament of Baptism, or partake His body in the Eucharist, always remember that we were bought at a very high price. This is why the saints sacrificed their lives. They did not wish to deny Him because they knew that Jesus bought them by His blood,” said Bishop Mtumbuka.
However, the Bishop said it is impossible for people to do what Jesus did for us but the least Christians can do is to fill their hearts with gratitude to Jesus and try to imitate his life.
Good Friday is the day Jesus Christ was crucified on the cross and died for the sins of the world. During the Way of the Cross, the youth of St Michael’s Parish dramatized the passion of Christ on each of the fourteen stations. The Bishop thanked the youth for their commitment to Church activities.
On 23rd and 24th March 2018, a team of officials from the Diocese of Karonga visited the Diocese of Dedza. The purpose of the trip was to learn from Dedza Diocese on how they are implementing their interventions in Family Planning Methods among the faithful.
From Karonga Diocese, the team comprised of Fr. Joachim Mwale (the Diocesan Family postulate Chaplain), Fr Joseph Sikwese (the Pastoral Secretary), Mr Vincent Shaba (the Head of Health Desk in the Diocese), Mr Benjamin Msowoya (the Sunday School Project Coordinator), Mr and Mrs Sikanda (Chair-couple for the Family Apostolate), Mr and Mrs Nyondo (Member-couple for the Family Apostolate) and Ms Maureen Soko (of Tuntufye FM Radio).
While in Dedza Diocese, the team from Karonga Diocese was briefed on how Dedza Diocese is implementing a project on Family Planning Methods among the people it serves. The Diocese of Dedza has trained 15 couples in some of its parishes as sensitization agents and service providers on Natural Family Planning Methods. These selected couples first live what they have been taught and then lead others on the same. So far, Dedza Diocese, through such trained couples, has reached to over 9700 people on Family Planning. Of all these, 127 couples (both Catholics and non-Catholics, including Muslims) have chosen to follow Natural Family Planning Methods as recommended by the Church.
The Diocese of Karonga established the Family Apostolate in 2015 in order to serve families in a special way. Under a program on Responsible Parenthood, as funded by the Sunday School Project, the Diocese is implementing several Reproductive Health interventions including popularization of Family Planning Methods among the people it serves. This is done with technical help from the Health Department of the Diocese of Karonga.
Therefore, the trip to Dedza Diocese was a learning visit on how best to popularize and train the laity on Family Planning according to Catholic Ethos; especially on Natural Family Planning Methods. Mr Vincent Shaba (head for the Health Department) said the visit was an eye opener since the Diocese of Karonga has been sensitizing people on Family Planning but lacked some knowledge on best strategies for successful training of the laity. He said that he was glad that the visit to Dedza Diocese, Ntcheu Parish in particular, had provided the team from Karonga Diocese with some of the needed knowledge on this.
He was also quick to add that they were encouraged to see that not all that the Diocese of Karonga was doing in this regard was off point; the strategy to reach out to families with Family Planning issues through the Family Apostolate was hailed by teams from both Dioceses as a good idea in as far as sustainable efforts in this area are concerned.
Having benefited from the trip, the Diocese of Karonga plans to train its own sensitization agents and service providers on Natural Family Planning Methods (NFP) so that the high demand in the Diocese, from people who would like to follow the NFP methods is satisfied with help from the Church.
Holy Tuesday within the Holy Week was another big forum for the Chief Shepherd of the Diocese of Karonga to Catechise and instill spiritual and moral responsibility on the Christians in the Catholic Diocese of Karonga.
Speaking in the Principal Church of the Diocese of Karonga, St Joseph the Worker Cathedral, Bishop Martin Mtumbuka did not mince words on the need for all Christians, regardless of their positions in the Church, to be mindful of being at the service of each other for the purpose of salvation.
“From now on wards I decree that all those who are involved in the pastoral ministry, be it catechists, pastoral workers (not including Priests) in the Diocese will be recommended to go ahead depending on their activeness in trying to save the souls of their brothers and sisters,” said the Bishop.
“If after the end of their contracts there shall be no indications of their impact on the spiritual lives of those they are meant to serve, then they will have to try another trade (may be growing tobacco),” said Bishop Mtumbuka.
During the Chrism Mass, where blessing of three types of oils i.e. Holy Chrism, Oil of Catechumens and Oil of the Sick was done, all Priests in the Diocese of Karonga renewed their commitment to selflessly serve faithful of the Diocese and pledged obedience to the Local Ordinary.
Chrism Mass is traditionally meant to be celebrated on Holy Thursday where during the last supper, Jesus Christ instituted the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist and the Sacrament of Holy Orders.
This is the second Year for the Chrism Mass to be celebrated at St. Joseph the Worker Cathedral since Fernando Cardinal Filoni inaugurated the Principal Church of the Catholic Diocese of Karonga on 5 November in the year 2016.
Bishop Martin Mtumbuka of Karonga Diocese, on Wednesday, led hundreds of mourners who gathered at St Mary’s Parish in Karonga in prayer for the repose of the soul Ephraim Nyirenda, who until his death was Head of Programmes for Tuntufye FM Radio.
Ephraim Nyirenda passed on in a road accident that occurred between Kapoka and Lufita in Chitipa District on Wednesday, 21st March, 2018. Ephraim was in the company of Action Aid officers going to Chitipa for a meeting to discuss ways of achieving equal representation between men and women, 50-50 campaign, as a delegate of Nyika Media Club to which he was an executive member.
Speaking during the requiem mass, the Bishop lamented the gap that has been left by Ephraim also because the accident was caused by reckless driving. In his message, Bishop Mtumbuka described the death of Ephraim as a terrible loss to the Church and his family.
“It is certainly a huge loss to us as Ephraim was not only dedicated to his work but also a fine young man with lots of gifts but very humble. It will be very difficult to find another officer of his gifts and personality,” said Bishop Mtumbuka.
“We are in the season of Lent whose message to us includes that of reminding us that just as the Jews made a 40 year journey to Jerusalem we are also on a journey to a heavenly Jerusalem,” said the Bishop.
After the mass the body of Ephraim was taken to Khosolo in Mzimba District where he has been laid to rest after a requiem mass celebrated by Father Cyprian Ngoma. The funeral ceremony was attended by people from all walks of like including the Secretary General for Livingstonia Synod of CCAP, Reverend Nyondo,
Ephraim Nyirenda was born on 5th January, 1984 and is survived by a wife and a child. He was following an Advanced Diploma Programme in Radio Management offered by Wits Radio Academy a school under Wits University of South Africa. Ephraim had completed the first module last month and was due to go for the second module.
Ephraim was also a regular contributor of articles to Karonga Diocese website.
“Tribute to Ephraim”
Ephraim has a pleasant personality and fitted very well with people from all walks of life. The numbers of people who attended his funeral are enough testimony of a life lived in harmony with everyone and God. Off the walls different people we have these messages:
“He was indeed a talented young man with a bright future in work as a journalist, yet very humble, a talent that cannot be easily replaced at our radio station. We are the people of faith, we leave everything to God, his ways are not his ways, His thoughts are different from ours.” Father Joseph Sikwese, Pastoral Secretary.
“I am heartily sorry for the Loss of Ephraim. He has created a gap for the Radio Tuntufye that will be tough to seal. And for the young family it is indeed a challenge. God himself should guide us and his family.” Father Cecilio Silwamba, DOFIA.
“This is a great loss to Tuntufye Family, the whole Diocese and media fraternity in Malawi. He was best suited for the radio with a good blend of natural media voice, talent, skill and a pleasant personality. He was versatile and fitted very well with people of all class, age and gender. His unique gifts and passion make him a rare gem which is irreplaceable once lost.” Innocent Nazombe, Tuntufye FM Director.
“We have lost a seasoned journalist who loved his job and was humble enough to work with young reporters. As Nyika executive member, he was hard working and always constructive in his constributions.” Mandy Pondani, Nyika Media Club leader.
The Monitoring and Evaluation Desk conducted field monitoring visits to “My Health My Right” and Radio Listening Clubs (RLCs) in Chitipa District from 5th to 8th March, 2018. These are community structures under the “Promotion of High Quality, Accountable and Responsive Public Health Service Delivery in Karonga and Chitipa Districts” project being implemented by the Justice and Peace Desk of Karonga Diocese with funding from OSISA.
The project established My Health and My Rights clubs in 24 schools and 12 Radio Listening Clubs (RLC) in the project sites. The school clubs raise awareness on health rights among fellow students through art and mobilise them to take action to defend and protect their health and associated rights.
During the monitoring visit, My Health and My Rights club members displayed much confidence in articulating their roles and rights; an indication that they are well informed as a result of the project. The club members from all groups, apart from Chisasu, expressed that they are now well equipped to stand up and demand their rights from duty bearers (e.g. health workers) in terms of access to timely and appropriate health care. The monitoring team urged the students to apply the knowledge gained in real life situations where right to health is being violated.
As regards the RLCs, one key result that has been recorded is that many community members have stopped sending their children and relatives to traditional healers in preference to health centres. This is a manifestation of behavior change as use of traditional medicine and deliveries at traditional birth attendants were common in the area. This issue was raised by many clubs including Kalowe and Zgangamulima in Wenya and Nthalire, respectively.
The club members also indicated that through their community outreach meetings, most people are now aware of their rights and the right channels to put across their health service delivery complaints, which was not the case before. According to the members, this has improved the quality of treatment in health facilities because health workers are aware that people would not tolerate any form of laxity.
According to the Caritas Secretary, Mr. Mwawi Shaba, the field monitoring visit was organized to interact with the critical structures in the project. While the RLCs champion radio based advocacy by amplifying community health service delivery concerns and encourage active citizenship, My Health My Rights clubs are sowing seeds for grassroots movement of health rights conscious and active generation.
The seemingly contented Mr. Shaba hailed the steady progress the project is making through the clubs. He suggested that school based clubs have to be encouraged to do more through the introduction of some competitions in story writing, quiz, poems and other forms of literary expression.
The monitoring team comprised of Mr. Mwawi Shaba, the Caritas Secretary; Mr. Deodatus Muriya, the Monitoring and Evaluation Officer; Mr. Ephraim Nyirenda, Tuntufye FM Radio person responsible for Justice and Peace programmes and Mr. Charles Kamwambi, the driver on the trip.
Child marriage is a complex issue where poverty, lack of education, cultural practices and insecurity fuel and sustain the practice.
In Karonga District, child marriages mainly affect girls who live in poverty and in rural areas. This is true for Harriet, who comes from GVH Mwangulu in TA Wasambo’s area. She dropped out of school at the age of 14 due to poverty and ended up getting married without her blind father’s knowledge.
Harriet got married to a fisherman at Chitende in Village Head Matambukira’s area. She felt that her poverty will be resolved by getting married to this fisherman. Harriet’s father was not happy with her daughter’s decision and though blind, managed to fight for her daughter’s future. He approached a Community Based Educator (under the Primary Justice Project being coordinated by the Justice and Peace Desk) and with the help of GVH Mwangulu, they managed to take Harriet out of the marriage.
Karonga District Implementation Agency (DIA) of the Primary Justice Project through the Social Welfare Officer helped Harriet to get back to school. She is now at St. Annie’s CDSS and Karonga DIA has linked Harriet to Gender Equality and Women Empowerment (GEWE) Project which is paying school fees for her.
It is possible to stop girls from child marriages. Ending child marriages matters quite a lot because they violate the girl’s rights to health, education and opportunities. Child marriage exposes girls to violence throughout their lives and traps them in a vicious cycle of poverty. Getting educated, Harriet will be able to assist herself and her family to get out the vicious cycle of poverty.
“By working together, the CBEs, Village Tribunals [structures under the Primary Justice Project] and local chiefs, we can turn our commitments to ending child marriages into a reality in Senior Chief Wasambo’s area and create lasting change for thousands of girls in Malawi” Karonga DIA observed.
*The contributor is a Community Based Educator under the Primary Justice Project which the Justice and Peace Desk of Karonga Diocese is coordinating with assistance from DFID through the Archdiocese of Lilongwe.
The Diocese of Karonga organized a 4 day training workshop for accounts personnel for Parishes and some Catholic establishments with the funding from Propaganda Fide.
The workshop, which took place at St Kizito Conference Centre in Chitipa from 6th March 2018 to 9th March 2018, focused mainly on computerized accounting and standardizing financial management processes in order to have same type of operation procedures and reports for all parishes.
The participants included Parish Clerks from St Mary’s, St Michael’s, St Annie’s, St Steven’s and St Ignatius parishes; Accountants from Atupele Hospital, St Steven’s Parish, St Annie’s Hospital and Bursar from St Ignatius Secondary School.
During the training, the participants prepared budgets, income and expenditure accounts for their respective institutions. They also learnt how to record all data for their income in the computer and be able to produce reports. This will enable all parishes and institutions to produce monthly reports with ease as is the requirement.
Three new laptops were purchased to be distributed to 3 parishes.
The participants expressed gratitude to Bishop Martin A. Mtumbuka of the Diocese of Karonga for the continued assistance to improve their capacity bearing in mind that last year they underwent a similar session.
Bishop Martin Mtumbuka of Karonga Diocese has instituted 45 men and women, of St Mary’s Parish in Karonga, into the ministry of lector with a call for them to live by example.
According to Ministeria Quaedam 5, the primary role of the lector (reader) is to proclaim the readings from the sacred scripture, except the gospel, in the Mass and other sacred celebrations. The lector also recites the psalm between the readings, presents intentions for intercessions, and directs the singing and participation of the faithful.
In his speech, Bishop Mtumbuka said although no one is righteous but they should always strive to do what is right. He urged them to ensure that their actions reflect the word of God they will be proclaiming to their fellow Christians.
“We know that you are not Angels but set a good example to your fellow Christians. Bear in your mind that you have been called to carry his mission in a special way,” said the Bishop.
Furthermore, the Bishop said everyone has a role to play in the church, saying it is not good to hinder anyone willing to offer a dedicated service to God.
Following the ceremony, St Mary’s Parish joins the few parishes in Malawi with instituted ministers of the readings. Most parishes have non-instituted lectors who are deputed to read the scriptures in the place of an instituted reader. Installed readers are usually found in seminary chapels where senior seminarians are installed lectors as preparation for ordained ministry.
On his part, the Parish Priest Fr. Joseph Moloka Sikwese said he is satisfied with the training the group has gone through.
Father Sikwese explained that this is not the first time for St Mary’s Parish to have this kind of grouping. It was there before but it died and now has decided to revive it.
According to him, preaching starts with those who read the scriptures, therefore it is important to impart reading skills to the selected people so that the message can be well understood by the congregation.
As part of the Lenten observance Priests of the Diocese of Karonga had a three day retreat at Nkhatabay Pastoral Training Centre. The retreat which ran from 6th to 9th March, and preached by Father Joseph Kimu of the Diocese of Mangochi, centred on the theme, “A Priest as the Face of Christ”.
In his reflection, Father Joseph Kimu said priestly life is a call to holiness. He called on priests to be constant in prayer and conversion if they are to portray the face of Christ. He said, it is through prayer and continuous conversion that the priest may know Christ, love him, follow him and show his face to others.
“You can radiate the face of Christ if you know him, love him and you have faith in him,” said Father Kimu.
At the end of the retreat, Father Kimu led the clergy in penitential service after which each priest received the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
Scores of people, most of whom Catholic Christians gathered at St. Marys Parish on Wednesday, 7 March to bid farewell to Luciana Mweghama who until her death was the Diocesan Chairperson of Chitemwano (Charity); one of the most powerful lay movements in the Diocese. On Tuesday 6 March, 2018, the Diocese woke up to the sad news of the demise of Luciana who breathed her last during the late hours of Monday 5 March.
Speaking to a cross section of people that gathered to pay their last respect, mostly women adorned in the Chitemwano regalia (light blue skirts and head gear with white blouses and shoes), Hellena Mhango described Luciana as one who led the women group by example.
Mhango (one of the group’s technical committee members at Diocese level) couldn’t hold back her tears and shock describing Luciana as one example of the rare breed of Catholic Christians who lived their faith. These remarks came after the Bishop of the Diocese, Rt. Rev. Martin Anwel Mtumbuka had already decorated Luciana’s Christian life as that which found joy in being a Catholic.
Before she was laid to rest, the Vicar General of the Diocese of Karonga Monsignor Denis Chitete led hundreds of Catholic Christians in the Holy Mass to pray for the repose of Luciana’s Soul.
In his homily, Father Lorent Dziko the Diocesan Lay Movements Chaplain envied Luciana’s death.
“She died in full communion with God. She had a chance to reconcile with God through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, a chance which most of us may not have,” said Father Dziko.
Luciana who was born in 1968 is survived with a husband and six children. By God’s grace one of her sons (God willing) will be ordained Deacon in May this year.
Luciana successfully led the Chitemwano lay movement which has around 8000 members in the Diocese of Karonga.