By Sam Kalimba:
The prelate of the Archdiocese of Lilongwe, Most Rev. George Desmond Tambala took time to lecture the difference between Religious life and Consecrated life at the 27th world Day for consecrated life. The event took place on Saturday 4 February, 2023 at St. John’s Msamba Parish in the Archdiocese.
It all became clear that there was a problem when Diocesan priests were initially not recognised during the event as having formed part of the event. The director of ceremonies called for those congregations of men that were not mentioned on the list to come forward to introduce themselves. There was laughter when one diocesan priest stood up to introduce themselves.
“Next time include us on the list. We are also set aside during our ordination and therefore we are party to this day,” said Fr. Steven Chikhasu, Diocesan Priest.
The Chairperson of the National Association of Men in Religious Institutes in Malawi (AMRIM), Rev. Fr. Bill Turnbull of the Missionaries of Africa in his speech accepted the responsibility of the chaos in planning. He said that he took the blame because he chaired the preparatory committee that omitted very important stakeholders.
It took the Archbishop of Lilongwe to put records straight.
“Canons 573 to 730 talk about what consecrated life is all about. No where does it leave out either diocesan priests or the laity. Remember that to be consecrated one has to profess in public. This, diocesan priests do. And the public means the Church, where the laity belong. So, there was no need to exclude any one from this event. Being consecrated is not equal to being religious. This must be checked in the next celebrations,” taught Most Rev. Tambala during his speech.
He said this to clarify what he called misconceptions over the event which was stained with negligible participation from the diocesan community of priests and the laity in the Archdiocese.
When the prelate was making his homily, little did many congregants, listeners and viewers knew that it was directing to the same Church Teaching until it was said at speech time.
“Initially, the Messianic belief among Israelites was meant to be a secret, known only to them. But look at how Jesus was born in a manger! I wonder whether there was privacy there. Joseph, Mary, shepherds and all kind of figures were there, wasn’t that making it public? Now you come to the moment of Epiphany, that should have been a family kind of activity. Look at who came with gifts, doesn’t that represent universality of salvation? The wisemen from the East came. And today this presentation of the Lord we are commemorating, we find two people waiting for the Lord, Simeon and Anna. To me these two represent the Church, very gender sensitive for that matter. The Gospel of Luke does not forget women here. A man and a woman are waiting for the baby. And today in this presentation, every Catholic experiences it through baptism. The baptism of consecration is a root of all consecration. It is through baptism that we are linked to the body of Christ. And alongside with the baby Jesus, we are presented the Father. The baptism of consecration is enjoyed by all of us the people of God,” reflected Tambala.
He further taught that the life of baby Jesus has elements that are repeated in the professional consecration or priestly consecration.
“The first thing is the presence of the Church around the consecration or setting aside of the baby Jesus. The second one being the offertory Joseph and Mary made for Jesus in the temple. Look at the two turtle doves as resenting poverty in our consecration life. Lastly, let us look at Anna the prophetess. This lady must have been a widow at 22 years of age and lived in the temple until when she was 84 years. This was total submission to the Lord. This should remind us the value of fidelity, let’s not leave our consecrated life,” Preached Tambala.
Earlier on before Mass, Rev. Sr. Elizabeth Nampota gave a reflection on consecrated life as a life of professional lovers of God and humans. She reminded the gathering that Christ is the one who established consecrated life by example and his words, come and see. She said that renewal of consecrated life is the constant return to Christ denoting constant following.
She also advised that the Gospel must be the soul which gives life and strength to the constitutions as the supreme rule of all institutes.
There are 17 parishes being led by missionaries while 29 parishes are being led by Diocesan priests in the Archdiocese of Lilongwe.