The Diocesan Administrator of Dedza Diocese, Monsignor John Chithonje, has challenged the religious and the Catholic faithful to be committed to their vocational calls.
Monsignor Chithonje made the remarks on Sunday 25 April, at Our Lady of Peace (Mtendere) Catholic Parish in Dedza Diocese during a Eucharistic celebration of this year’s National Vocation Sunday organized by the Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM) through Pontifical Mission Societies (PMS) to promote vocations to priesthood, marriage and consecrated life through prayer and education.
Speaking in front of thousands of people coming from all parts of the country to witness the day long event which also included vocational talks, career talks, window shopping, and sports activities; Monsignor Chithonje challenged the married people to do some soul searching of their spiritual lives and see whether their actions reflect their God’s call.
“If you were called to marriage life, make sure your lifestyle should not discourage others from getting married. Marriage should not symbolize misery and suffering, but a source of love and happiness; I encourage all married people to realize that marriage is the foundation of all vocations.
Therefore, marriages should follow the example of the Holy family of Joseph, Mary and Jesus and help their children grow into responsible Christians and citizens of the country,” said Monsignor Chithonje.
He further requested those who were called to religious life such as priesthood, sisterhood or brotherhood to demonstrate good behavior and be kind to the people they serve.
The Secretary General for Episcopal Conference of Malawi, Reverend Father Henry Saindi added that this is one of the most important celebrations on the calendar of the Roman Catholic Church as it allows members the chance to reflect on their religious life.
“God has a calling for each and every person. It is important for each person to recognize and accept his or her calling. Vocational discernment is the process in which men or women in the Catholic Church discern, or recognize, their vocation in the Church.
The vocations are the life as layman in the world either married or single, the ordained life of priesthood and the consecrated life of prayer,” he said.
Reverend Father Saindi also expressed worry over the decreasing number of priests in the country which affect the missionary work of spreading the gospel to the peripherals. He added that the vocation day should serve as awareness to the families, children and the youth that the priests who have died left a gap that need to be filled.
“The number of priests here in Malawi does not respond to the needs in the parishes, for example, here at Mtendere parish we have two priests which are meant to serve 42 Churches under Mtendere parish which is not easy,” he explained.
In his remarks, the National Director for Pontifical Mission Societies Father Vincent Mwakhwawa appealed to lay Christians, priests and the religious brothers and sisters to encourage young boys and girls to work hard in their education and make right choices as they grow into adulthood.
“This is a crucial time as the whole Church focuses on praying for young people to make good decisions about their future. So the Church also encourages all Catholic faithful to help youths to build a solid foundation by making right choices to address gaps that are in the Church and society”, said Fr Mwakhwawa
He added that the key message on Vocation Sunday is to let young people know that the Church loves them and it wants them to grow with spiritual understanding of their lives but also to think about their future. As such, the Church is nurturing the youth to become reliable citizens on top of being members of the Church so that they can serve every human being, the society, and God.
Gerald Chichenga a 17year old learner at Mtendere SecondarySchool said after listening to various speeches he believes his calling is into priesthood.
“I know within my heart without doubt that my calling is to be a priest. I will work towards achieving my dream. I will work hard in school so I can complete every process,” he said.
Vocations Sunday is celebrated in the Catholic Church on the 4th Sunday of Easter and every parish community gives space to the young people to participate actively and guide them on the type of life they should choose freely to serve God and society very well