On the 7th of July, the parish of Chezi in Malawi witnessed an unforgettable event as our own confrere Dominic Kapatamoyo was ordained a priest in this parish. All the roads led to Chezi parish on that day. There was a big crowd of people present to witness this memorable event as that was the first of its kind in the parish. The Lavigerie family comprising of Missionaries of Africa, Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of African, and our students in formation were present in their numbers to pray with and support Dominic Kapatamoyo. The other religious from different congregations, diocesan priests and representatives of other religious denominations, family members and friends of our confrere, as well parishioners graced the occasion. Also present were the ordaining bishop Tarsizio G. Ziyaye, Archbishop of Lilongwe and our confrere Bishop Emeritus Remy Sainte-Marie.
During his homily, Bishop Tarsizio affirmed that a priest is another Christ, who is chosen among the people and sent out to serve, console, preach, and baptise of the people of God. Teaching the people to know what the Kingdom of God entails. He agreed with Cardinal Lavigerie’s invitation to his Missionaries “to be apostles nothing but apostles”. The Bishop said a priest is to help others become apostles and that being apostles should become our being.
Ending his homily, the Bishop invited all to pray for the priest to be ordained, that the Lord may give him all the graces that he needs. Also, to pray that we may get many more Priests, Sisters and Brothers to serve the Church, since the harvest is rich but the labourers few.
Later on in an interview, the Bishop said he is touched by the fact that Dominic is the son of one of the long serving catechists of Chezi parish, Mr. Kapatamoyo. He was also happy that Dominic was ordained as priest in the Congregation of the Missionaries of Africa, adding that, “they are like our parents” since they were the first missionaries to bring the gospel to the Archdiocese of Lilongwe. He was happy about the good organisation of the event and active participation of the people, seeing it as a golden opportunity for vocation promotion.
Looking at the event, the Provincial Delegate Fr. Michel Sanou expressed his gratitude to the Christians and parishioners of Chezi for the good organisation. He expressed so much joy as to see the joy of the people especially the parents of Dominic as they gave their son to the Catholic Church. As Dominic comes from a place where there are only missionaries, the Delegate saw that as something remarkable and a challenge to other youth to give themselves to the mission too.
At the end of the Mass, the Provincial emphasised the missionary nature of our work as Missionaries of Africa, saying that like the confreres working in Chezi Parish, Dominic will mostly be working away from his home parish. On that note, he announced that the newly ordained priest is sent to Mingana, in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where he spent two years for pastoral training during his initial formation.
In an interview, the Provincial Fr. Felix Phiri did not only express his joy at how well the celebration was organised and well attended. According to him, the presence of others from the protestant churches, shows a sense of solidarity among the Christians of different denominations.
The Provincial also saw the event in the sense of the 150th Anniversary celebrations, which is a visible fruit of the work of the Missionaries of Africa as Dominic is from Chezi parish, which has been under the care of the Missionaries of Africa since its beginning.
Fr. Felix remarked how the work and faith of Dominic’s father as a Catechist has been a pillar for Dominic’s vocation journey, sustained him throughout his years of initial formation. The Provincial expressed hope of getting many more vocations from the parish to join the Missionaries of Africa, with the support of the confreres in Chezi parish.
Talking with the newly ordained priest, Fr. Dominic filled with joy expressed his gratitude to God for the gift of his priestly ordination, seeing it as a humbling honour. He was impressed by the sacrifices the parishioners, confreres, family and friends, among others made since December 2017 to ensure the success of the event. He was also overjoyed by the presence of some many people, two bishops, friends from Zimbabwe, France, Ireland and Kenya, confreres, priests, sisters and brothers, and parishioners to witness his ordination. For Dominic, the presence of all these people from far and near is a sign of the Church’s unity. In a sense of gratitude, he asked God to be with him in his priestly calling.
In short, the ordination of Fr. Dominic was for us the Missionaries of Africa, a time of coming together to support, pray with and thank the Lord for the vocation of Fr. Dominic. It also served as a means of vocation promotion as a lot of us were present in our Ganduras. It also became for the parish of Chezi a moment of working together to support and pray for and with their own son. For the parents of Fr. Dominic, the celebration was prayers answered, as they have been accompanying their son with prayers since he started his formation with the Missionaries of Africa. As Missionaries of Africa, we cannot but join our confrere in thanking God for his calling, and also in thanking all those who have supported us before and during the organisation of this ordination. May God richly reward you all for the support rendered to us to make Dominic’s ordination a success.
Vitus Danaa Abobo, M.Afr.