On the 20th of July 2019, the Missionaries of Africa and the Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Africa in the Malawi Sector witnessed the ordination of Fr. Steven Kambuku (M.afr) and Fr. Joseph Palasa (Diocesan). It was a colourful and beautiful ceremony. The ordaining minister was the Archbishop of Lilongwe Archdiocese, Archbishop Tarcisius Zizaye. Present also was the Retired Archbishop Remi Joseph Gustave Sainte-Marie. There were a lot of priests (missionaries from different congregations and diocesans) and religious men and women who also graced the occasion, as well as parishioners from almost all the parishes with the Diocese of Dedza and the neighbouring dioceses.
Rev Fr. Steven Mark Damiano Kambuku who was ordained that day, was born on 30/07/1988 to the family of Mr. Damiano Hamilton Kambuku and Mrs. Calorina Anastazio Chiputula. Fr. Kambuku was the second of four children in the family; three boys, one girl. He did his secondary school education at Bandawe Boys Secondary School, Nambuma Community Development Secondary School in Nambuma, Unity Private and Army Private. In the year 2009 he started his formation at Kanengo pre-formation house in Lilongwe, Malawi. Later he was sent to Balaka for his philosophical studies. After his studies in Philosophy in 2012, he was appointed to Kasama for his novitiate. After his novitiate in 2013, he was sent to Burkina Faso for his pastoral experience (Stage). He was later appointed to Kinshasa in DRC for theology. While in theology, he took his perpetual oath on 9/12/2018. On the same day he was ordained a deacon by Bishop Placide Lubamba (M.afr) from DRC.
The priestly ordination ceremony took place in a village called Matumba, at the Holy Angels Parish under the Diocese of Dedza. The officiating Archbishop was from the neighbouring Archdiocese (Lilongwe) as the hosting diocese is currently without a chief shepherd. On a personal note, the choice of the place of ordination was a good one because it shows the Church’s preferential option for the poor and also allowed the simple people in this village who are without a means of transport, an opportunity to witness this Holy and Sacred ceremony. If the ordination was to be done in town, many of these people would have found it difficult to witness it. The participation of the local people in the order of the mass made the celebration very colourful. There were the Angoni traditional dancers, little girls and boys, and the catholic women organisation members who throughout the mass were using their various dance styles to praise God while the Choir sings. The choir was a combined group of choir members from all of the outstations of the hosting parish, and they sang wonderfully.
The homily of the Archbishop Tarcisius Ziyaye was centered on love. He started by saying that even though Isaiah offered himself to be used for the mission of God, he wasn’t the one who made himself into God’s prophet and servant. Rather, it was God who made Isaiah into His prophet and sent him on a mission. God through His mercy and love always calls someone from among the faithfuls to serve Him as a priest in the Church.
The Archbishop went on to say that, the priesthood we receive is not a human thing, but rather the priesthood of Christ himself, and that is why the Church always affirm that a priest is another Christ. Therefore, he encouraged the candidates to be ordained and all priests present not to take their priestly ministry lightly, not to forget the holiness and honour of the sacred priesthood and to always strive to live their lives like Christ did.
He further emphasized that, the service of the sacred priesthood is to be rendered with all humility, respect for God’s people, total devotion and love. For the sacred priesthood is not a profession or a part time job, it is a lifelong service, he added. He buttressed this point by making reference to the teachings of Mother Theresa of Calcutta who when advising her sisters said “when doing your examination of conscience at night before you go to bed, do not ask yourselves, what have I done today? But rather ask yourselves, all that I did today, have I done them with love?”
He rounded up his homily by reminding everyone present that our life is a life of love, a life centered and guided by love. Because God is love and Christ Jesus died for us because he loved us. We must also not depart from love, but remain steadfastly rooted in love.
After the homily of the Archbishop, the vocation director of the diocese Fr. Emmanuel Chuma called forward the ordinands for the rite of ordination. The two ordinands answered from where they were sitting among the crowd “Ndilipo” meaning Here I am. The two ordinands then came forward gleefully, accompanied by their parents and a troupe of traditional dancers – it was a very touching moment. During the litany of the saints, the two candidates lay down in total submission to God and the choir sang the litany in a way that moves the heart, one could feel the presence of the saints. After the rite of ordination, all the priests, brothers, sisters, seminarians and family members congratulated the newly ordained, and they (the newly ordained) in turn blessed the archbishops, the priests and religious and all the faithfuls present.
They are now priests forever according to the order of Melchizedek!!
The ceremony continued as normal till after the communion when the choir sang the Magnificat. This was another moment that stood out; there were three little girls who came out and danced beautifully to the hymn. One was dressed as Mary and the two others as angels – it was quite a sight to behold.
During the speeches, Fr. Kambuku expressed his profound gratitude to God for the gift of vocation to serve Him as a priest. He also thanked all members of the Society of the Missionaries of Africa, his parents, all friends of the Missionaries of Africa who have lived with him and all those who have helped him in various ways to reach the Altar of God.
The family members expressed their profound joy in the speech that was given. They thanked God for the honour he has bestowed on them by considering their families worthy of giving Him priests to serve in His vineyard. They also expressed their profound gratitude to all those who partook in the formation of their children, and also all those who came to witness the ceremony.
The Archbishop in His closing remark reemphasized on the focal point of his homily, that is, Love. He encouraged the newly ordained priests to serve with love and complete devotion, to be humble and to be Christ like. He also urged them to be obedient sons of the Church and to follow the teachings of the Church.
Okunola Michael Olatude
Stagiaire at St. Francis Parish, Kanengo, Malawi