Friday, September 1, 2017
“I stand before you – said Fr. John Baptist Keraryo Opargiw, mccj – on this memorable occasion of the Twin Priestly Ordination of two Zambian Comboni missionaries: Justin Ndhlovu and Maximilian Nsofwa Malata. If this were in the Pearl of Africa we would be congratulating Ssalongo – the father of twins and Nnalongo – the mother of twins. This is indeed an ecclesial event of the highest magnitude. Mother Church rejoices at all levels for this event.”
A BRIEF SPEECH ON THE OCCASION OF THE PRIESTLY ORDINATION
OF JUSTIN NDHLOVU AND MAXIMILIAN NSOFWA MALATA
CATHOLIC CATHEDRAL – LUSAKA, AUGUST 26TH, 2017
Delivered by Fr. John Baptist Keraryo Opargiw, mccj
Your Grace Archbishop Telesphor George Mpundu, Dignitaries and Distinguished Guests – all protocol observed, my dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
I stand before you on this memorable occasion of the Twin Priestly Ordination of two Zambian Comboni missionaries: Justin Ndhlovu and Maximilian Nsofwa Malata. If this were in the Pearl of Africa we would be congratulating Ssalongo – the father of twins and Nnalongo – the mother of twins. This is indeed an ecclesial event of the highest magnitude. Mother Church rejoices at all levels for this event.
Your Grace, please allow me to address a special word of thanks and appreciation to you personally. It is with a heart filled with joy and on behalf of the Comboni Missionaries working in Malawi and Zambia and indeed on behalf of the Superior General and his Council that I come to express in a few words our gratitude as Comboni Missionaries. Your Grace, I am deeply aware and appreciative, of your paternal love and care, for us Comboni Missionaries in the Arch-diocese of Lusaka. This is the fourth consecutive year that you have accepted to ordain our confreres to the Holy Priesthood. You have tirelessly continued to inspire, lead and sustain the Catholic flock and indeed the entire population of this great Nation of Zambia. You have indeed been a positive presence offering clear leadership in the most significant moments in the life of the Catholic Church in Zambia and of the Nation.
The Catholic Church in Zambia this year celebrates 125 years of Catholicism showing many signs of maturity at various levels. One important litmus test for a Local Church coming of age is its capacity to send missionaries to evangelize other peoples. Today Fr. Justin and Fr. Maximilian join an ever increasing number of Zambian missionaries who share with others abroad the very faith that they received and grew in on this fertile Zambian soil. The two missionaries priests we have received today will go out in the name of the Catholic Church in Zambia. Therefore this calls for the continued support of the parents, friends, formators and indeed all the faithful in Zambia to always accompany these two young priests with your prayer, with your love, with your exemplary life and with your generous material assistance as they embark on their missionary service. It is official that the Superior General with the consent of his Council has assigned Fr. Justin to Tchad – a French speaking African Country that borders with South Sudan, Sudan, Libya, Nigeria, Cameroon and Central African Republic. Meanwhile Fr. Maximilian has been assigned to neighbouring Malawi. We wish them all the best in their mission.
This year we Comboni Missionaries the world over also celebrate the 150th anniversary of the foundation of our Missionary Institute by St. Daniel Comboni who trusted Africans and the role they would play in the evangelization of Africa and of the world. Comboni had real foresight and his dream is being fulfilled right before our eyes as the Comboni Tree continues to grow in Africa. At present 85% of the Comboni candidates come from Africa. Fr. Justin and Fr. Maximilian offer us today not only the Twin Priestly Ordination but they are also Jubilee Priests for Zambia and for us Combonis. For us Comboni Missionaries the whole world is our Parish! We pray that this special occasion and the broader missionary context within which we celebrate it may indeed inspire many more young men and women to embrace consecrated life, missionary life and the priesthood. If Justin and Maximilian have made it, why not you, oh young man and young lady! The message is that it is indeed possible.
Your Grace, allow me now to address a few words to the two newly ordained missionary priests: Fr. Justin and Fr. Maximilian. Congratulations on your priestly ordination! Mother Church is proud of you! The Comboni Missionaries rejoice with you! Remember the last spiritual retreat I had the privilege and honour to preach to you and the other confreres, in Lilongwe, Malawi. Then I talked about some very significant symbolic gestures in the rite of priestly ordination. The moment you were called by your name and you stepped forward and answered and the Bishop confirmed that call in the name of the Universal Church, you began a journey of total self-giving to the Lord. You’ve just given yourselves entirely away to God. Please now don’t spend the rest of your life trying to take back what you have freely and responsibly given to the Lord. This is a question of whole-heartedness, singlemindedness and being focused in the life of consecration and the priesthood. As priests you have made a choice that is counter current. In our globalized, fast changing and post-truth era world today, nothing seems permanent everything is in a flux. People change employment, professions, partners, political allegiance at will. You instead are priests for ever according to the order of Melchisedech. You remember, of course, the dramatic moment when you prostrated yourselves on the cathedral floor in humble acknowledgement of your unworthiness. You are called to servant leadership, just as our Lord Jesus Christ who came not to be served but to serve and to offer his life for the salvation of humanity.
And may all of us who have participated in this holy event of the Twin Priestly Ordination be filled with and benefit from the abundant graces the Lord has lavished upon us. God bless the Catholic Church! God bless Zambia!