By Demetria Banda
Pastoral office has canceled the celebration of consecrated life and pontifical missionary union at the Archdiocese level that was scheduled for 6th February, 2021 due to directives by the Ministry of Health.
Malawi’s Ministry of Health has directed that there be no gathering in large numbers due to a sharp rise in coronavirus cases in the country.
In a press statement released on 22nd January, 2021 signed by the Pastoral Coordinator of the Archdiocese of Lilongwe, Rev. Fr. James Mkwezalamba, this year’s cerebration has been suspended forthwith due to the current impact of Covid 19 on our country.
The Catholic Church in Malawi guided by the Holy Father, through PMS in the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, on 2nd February celebrates unity of all pastoral agents working as missionaries of Christ in the universal Church, as promoted by the Pontifical Society of Missionary Union, which is one of the four societies of PMS.
According to the press statement, a new date will be announced later through the office of the director of Pontifical Missionary Societies. Priests and Religious are however encouraged to celebrate in their parishes the actual day, 2 February, 2021 by either sharing liturgical roles during the mass and/or meals where it is possible.
Fr. Innocent Mtapaonga, the Parish priest at Chitedze parish in the Archdiocese of Lilongwe in his speech during the burial ceremony for late Fr Chipalamwazani on Tuesday 2nd February ,2021 said it is important to honor the celebration of the Day for Unity of Missionaries in different parishes as it enlighten and sensitize servants of the Church on the need for unity whilst serving the Church and to ensure cooperation in promoting missionary consciousness through four Pontifical Missionary Societies
“Today the 2nd day of February is the day we meet every year and cerebrate consecrated life and pontifical missionary union as a diocese but this year we will not make it due to Covid 19 pandemic , however we encourage all the parishes to celebrate Pontifical Missionary Union day in order to foster unity among Pastoral Workers, to sustain and strengthen the missionary zeal in the hearts of priests, religious men and women of different congregations, seminarians, all those in formation as they prepare for missionary work and the laity themselves, especially leaders and those with different responsibilities. Said Fr Mtapaonga.
Pontifical Mission Union is one of the four Pontifical Mission Societies established with the aim of promoting unity, collaboration among pastoral workers (missionaries) and ongoing missionary formation. It was founded by Fr. Paolo Manna in 1916 in Italy. Fr. Manna began by encouraging those already engaged in the work of the Church to be united in the work of the missions and sustain the missionary zeal in their hearts as they work for the Church.
To this end, he founded the Missionary Union to raise enthusiasm among priests, to promote awareness of the missions and encourage prayer unity and missionary zeal. It was hoped that these leaders within the Church (the clergy and religious) would inspire the laity to pray for the success of evangelization, the spread of the Good News throughout the World and in the particular (local) Church.