Zambia: Bishop Chinyemba Spells Out Mongu Diocese Targets
10 June 2011
"BISHOPS come in different sizes and ages." this is what Mongu Diocese Catholic Bishop Evans Chinyama Chinyemba answered when asked how he would handle his new role which in the past was usually held by older folks.
At the age of 43, he has in his hands an enormous responsibility to steer the diocese of Mongu to greater heights. He says his role would be to add onto what his predecessor Bishop Paul Duffy has done during his tenure.
"When I look back where I have been I think I have reached this stage because of what I have been doing and with the diocese of Mongu, it's a new diocese and I know Bishop Paul Duffy has finished his work here not because of something but he reached the age of retirement like any other person.
"So for me I come into this office with that in mind that someone has been retired and the diocese is not in a crisis that the Bishop has been fired.
He has retired, it makes me be at ease to continue the work which has been done in this young diocese.
The challenges could be there but I think with the collaboration of different people involved, we will be able to suceed .
Whether bishops are supposed to be old I think bishops come in different sizes and age," he said.
With great determination, Bishop Chinyemba who has risen through the ranks says his focus will be to bring souls closer to Jesus Christ.
Asked to outline who he would like to work with in view of calls that he should emulate his predecessor, Bishop Chinyemba said, "Yes that is a challenging question, for me what I look at is in what way I should emulate Bishop Duffy.
First of all he is a Christian, someone who believes in the gospel and I think that is what I believe in. Values are there and that is what builds our church and there are rules and regulations within our church.
"Like I said this is a small diocese and my work is to build upon on what has been done to help our people lead a spiritual life so that as a Shepherd of the diocese I lead the way in leading them to where they can find Christ," he said.
He says the basic and most important principle for any Christian in life is the relationship they create with Jesus Christ and at the end if he would have helped people to create an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ in their general life, the better for him.
"This is the responsibility I have been given as a Shepherd, being a steward and a servant of God's people here in Mongu Diocese. Yes as a bishop I need to emulate Bishop Duffy as steward of the people in the diocese, that will be my work," he said.
Bishop Chinyemba adds that after visitations to parishes in the diocese where he intends to meet all stakeholders, a vision for the diocese would be created to add on what has been done by Bishop Duffy.
He says his main preoccupation will be to grow the diocese so that it could get to levels where older existing dioceses have reached.
Born Evans Chinyama Chinyemba in Lukulu District in Western Province on August 9, 1967, a second born in the family of eight, he did his primary school at Silembe Primary School about 10 kilometres from the central district.
He then went to do his secondary school at Lukulu Secondary School which was at that time called Saint Columbus Secondary School run by Christian Brothers from 1985 to 1989.
After completing secondary education Bishop Chinyemba spent a year to do untrained teaching.
He says it was a good experience and enabled him to reflect on what he wanted to do in life.
"My desire to become a priest came in during this time and by that time the Irish missionaries were working at Santa Maria and then they left it under the care of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate and this is a group of Oblates that were founded in France by St Eugene.
"These are a group of Oblates that came from Texas in the USA of which my predecessor Bishop Paul Duffy was a member and is among the first Oblates that came from the USA to Zambia in particular to Lukulu," he said.
He says during that particular time on the path of wanting to become a clergy he joined the Missionary Oblates first of all with a programme called pre- novitiate that was based in Lusaka.
He said this is a stage of reflection as to whether one is truly called to priesthood and that after the two year programme in Lusaka he was recommended to go and continue his novitiate in South Africa in 1993 to 1994.
In February of 1994 he made his first vow and then continued on within South Africa in Pietermaritzburg where he did philosophy and Theology studies up to June 1996.
Then the same year he was recommended to go and do his education and formation in Rome.
As Oblates we have our Headquarters in Rome and have a programme called a scholasticate where young Oblates from different parts of the world go and pursue their formation and studies.
"So I was there from 1996 up to 1999. While in Rome that's when I made my perpetual Oblation and also did my Deaconate before I came back to Zambia.
So after I returned to Zambia I was assigned to go and work in pre-novitiate and formation the place where I started from (1999)," he said.
He says while at the pre-novitiate he helped other young men who were joining the Oblates to discover if God was calling them to priesthood.
On August 19, 2000, he was ordained a priest in Lukulu at Santa Maria parish by Bishop Duffy.
"So my ministry really is for the last 10 years from the time I was ordained.
For 10 years I was in formation, what you can call a Seminary training other people who are joining to become priests and religious," he said.
Bishop Chinyemba adds that besides being in that ministry of formation he was also involved in the leadership team of the congregation in Zambia.
As a member of the leadership team he was in charge of seminarians who were coming for a year of pastoral experience either from South Africa and United States of America where they were doing their studies.
Bishop Chinyemba at that time was in charge of the trainees doing pastoral work helping them in their missionary work.
He was also involved in the leadership team of the Oblates in the Southern Africa as a chairperson of the group called the Coordinating Committee of the formatters.
The group comprised Oblates from South Africa, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Kenya and Zambia.
"We come together as Formatters to think through and help the congregation in terms of what we need for the congregation. So I was a member of that team and also a chairperson of the group. What that meant was to really coordinate the efforts of the seminary life in the places where the Oblates are present so that together we can see what we can do for the young men who are joining us," he said.
He worked in Lusaka from 2000 up to July 2009 after which in the same month he was appointed as Parish Priest in Shangombo which is in Livingstone Diocese although situated in Western Province.
He says after five months of working as a parish priest in Shangombo District he was appointed the delegation superior of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Magdalene in Zambia which meant he had to move from Shangombo to Lusaka to take up the new role in December 2009.
"As superior of the delegation my work was to coordinate the works of the Oblates that were in Zambia at different levels. At that time we were about 75 oblates in Zambia at different levels of the religious life.
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