By Demetria Banda
Bishop Chairman of the Pastoral Commission of the Episcopal Conference of Malawi, Rt. Rev. Peter Musikuwa, has advised chaplains of the association of the Legion of Mary to observe ethical standards of the ministry.
The Bishop made the remarks during the Legion of Mary Annual General Meeting which was held from 14th to 15th of September, 2021 at Our Lady of Africa Centre in Lilongwe.
The bishop urged chaplains to ensure that the Legion of Mary becomes a successful outlet for participation and solidarity in bringing about justice and love in the human race.
Bishop Musikuwa asked members of the association to practice corroborative ministry by, among others, engaging parish priests in the respective parishes and not shun other parish gatherings and activities on the basis that they have their own forum and apostolate.
“Although the office of the chaplain is pastoral in nature, the chaplain is not a Parish Priest,” noted Musikuwa adding “He has, therefore, to abide to the universal and particular law that regulate the exercise of his office. (The chaplain) has to avoid making his own regulations… which may be in conflict with those of the diocese or the parish.”
Bishop Musikuwa said, with a proper missionary zeal, the association of the legion of Mary has potential to increase the members’ effectiveness as participants in re-evangelization.
In order to serve the association effectively, the bishop advised, the chaplains would have to, as individuals, be kind, dedicated, listening and ready to give good service, helping the members to be sincere, responsible and serious with their apostolate and spiritual life.
“This means he has to make an effort to purify his heart before cerebrating the sacraments of confession and holy Eucharist. This is because unethical conduct of the chaplain seriously leaves an ineffaceable stain in the hearts of the members of the association of the Legion of Mary as it destroys the sense of trust and safety.
“Members not only feel betrayed by a trusted professional priest whom they expected to guide them in the way of perfection, but by the one who professed to represent God. Hence, they will feel…betrayed by God as well,” observed Bishop Musikuwa.
In his remarks, President of the Legion of Mary for Maula Senatus, Dr Mary Shawa, said the chaplains are now equipped with knowledge that will help them perform their duties better.
“The Church demands that the faithful follow what their leaders are saying. So it is a very big challenge because you can’t say “Chaplain this is not the way things are done”,” she said noting that it is instead the chaplains who have responsibility to guide association members.
The Legion of Mary is an association dedicated to prayer to the Holy Spirit for non-believers, marriages, unbaptised children and the needy through the intercession of the Virgin Mary. The members also help in teaching the doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church.
“We want our Chaplains, Parish Priests and the Christians to understand all this,” said Dr. Shawa urging Christians, especially men, to join the association dominated by women.
The global Legion of Mary has clocked 100 years this year and in Malawi, centenary celebrations will be launched on 16 October, 2021 and will run till September, 2022.