A New Deacon and a New Priest: An Early New Year Gift to the Diocese Of Karonga
By Moses Raymond Kamanga
On Saturday, 30th of December, 2023 all roads led to St. Michaels Parish Chitipa for the ordination of Seminarian Raphael Simwera to Diaconate and Deacon Godwin Mwafongo to Priesthood. A multitude of Christians from Karonga, Misuku, Kamene and Nthalire braved the long distances and a scare of rains to travel and witness the young men saying “yes” to serve at the Lord’s Altar.
Instructing the two as they braced themselves to take up this noble responsibility, the Chief Shepherd of the Diocese of Karonga, Rt. Rev. Martin Anwel Mtumbuka advised them to persevere in their calling.
In his homily Bishop Mtumbuka asked the candidates to take after the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph.
“We have just celebrated Christmas and there is a close link, which I want to share with you, between the experience of the Holy Family and priesthood. Joseph was depressed when he found out that Mary was pregnant and wanted to secretly leave her. Mary was troubled when Jesus went missing and found in the Temple. In these experiences, they endured,” explained Bishop Mtumbuka.
To these experiences, Bishop Mtumbuka connected priestly life in which the two candidates need to endure also.
“You should not be priests who just complain in everything. Complaining from Monday to Sunday, January to December; when there is nsima you complain, beans you complain, vegetables you complain, complaining about everything. I don’t want this,” expressed Bishop Mtumbuka.
He went on to encourage the two to commit themselves to the life of prayer, saying that prayer is the fuel for their priestly life.
“When prayer is abandoned in the life of a priest, signs and symptoms are very clear. Just as signs are conspicuously clear in a family whose couples no longer love each other.
You shall know this by the way they talk to each other and look at each other. A priest whose life is devoid of prayer does things haphazardly, with no commitment at all. May it not be so with you,” concluded Bishop Mtumbuka.
Deacon Raphael Simwera comes from St. Mathias Mulumba Parish in Misuku – Chitipa District and Fr. Godwin Mwafongo comes from St. Thomas Moore Parish – Malimbalimba in Karonga District. They both studied at Peramiho Major Seminary in Songea – Tanzania.
Deacon Simwera is set to be ordained a priest in August next year (2024) at St. Mathias Mulumba Parish Center in Misuku. Fr. Godwin Mwafongo has since been appointed to serve at St. Ignatius Parish in Nthalire and his ordination to priesthood has brought the number of diocesan priests in the Karonga Diocese to 24.