The Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Karonga, Rt. Rev Bishop Martin Mtumbuka, took the mission work of the Church to un-evangelized people of Tcharo, a community that has not been visited by either a priest or a bishop before, due to its disadvantaged geographical position.
Located in the lakeshore area of Rumphi District, Tcharo community belongs to a newly established Livingstonia Parish. The area is one of the most neglected parts of the country in terms of development hence the bishop’s commitment to establish one of its development offices at Tcharo so as to coordinate Church development interventions in the area.
Bishop Mtumbuka visited the area on the 13th of October, 2018 as part of celebrating the Mission Month and preparations for World Mission Sunday, saying that he felt obliged to share the faith with the people of the area as inspired by motto of Karonga Diocese “We shall go to them” and by the teaching of the Church through the Pontifical Mission Societies (PMS) during this Month.
Through the two-day tour, Bishop Mtumbuka showed the Church’s missionary spirit to reach to the end of the world and to share the faith with those who have not yet received it, as encouraged by His Holiness Pope Francis in his World Mission Sunday message for this year. He also demonstrated his passion for mission and reaching to the people who live in the periphery of the pastoral geographical areas of the Diocese.
One challenge that hinder the area from development is accessibility. Bishop Mtumbuka had to sail by a boat for three hours; and walk along the lakeshore, jumping from one rock to another. The area has no guest houses so he had to do without a proper sleeping place.
The Bishop met chiefs, Area Development Committee members and the few Catholic Christians in the area whereby he discussed several issues concerning the development of the area.
On Sunday, Bishop Mtumbuka led the Christians in a Solemn Eucharistic celebration which attracted other denominations like Church of Central Africa Presbyterian and Emmanuel Church.
During the homily, he reminded the gathering that all people are called to love and witness Jesus Christ.
“In Jesus, God took the human condition to save us and he died on the cross out of love for us; it is this love that we must take to others as well. Those who have received the faith are obliged by the same faith to share it with others. There is no Christianity without love and service”, he said.
He assured the people of Tchalo that they are dear to Karonga Diocese just like all the other Christians, and he promised that the pastoral and socio-economic interventions of the Diocese will spread to Tcharo and all parts of the diocese.
The Bishop also assured the Christian community that the Diocese will build a prayer house on a plot that the community generously gave to the Diocese; that the diocese will also figure out in liaison with its Lusubiro Orphan Care organization how to put up a Community Based Child Care Center. He instantly appointed a Catholic School teacher to be the care taker of Sunday school pastoral affairs of the area in the initial stage in collaboration with The Catechetical Methodology Advisor of Livingstonia parish.
The Bishop also indicated that the place needs a full time catechist and instructed the Pastoral Commission to introduce a Sunday school tailored feeding program, Likuni Phala, with immediate effect.
Bishop Mtumbuka also asked the Caritas Commission in the Diocese to design a way that will ensure that selection to Catholic Schools of the Diocese includes the youth of Tcharo despite many people being non Catholics; that the pending relief services program in the Diocese must have Tcharo as one of its priority places; and that the Commission should soon deploy a full time Development officer based there.
Bishop Martin was accompanied by several officers from the diocese so as to have a holistic perspective of the place for its inclusion in the Diocese’s various pastoral and developmental programs.