On this year’s Christmas Card we mentioned 13 highlights in Mzuzu Diocese during 2019. The first highlight mentioned the Catechism Classes (for both small children and for youth) which are being conducted in over 1,000 centres, yes that is over one thousand places where catechism is taught every Saturday or Sunday. And all this is done by volunteer teachers. In fact the whole Catholic Church in Mzuzu Diocese is run by a multitude of volunteers guided by approximately 50 priests and 100 religious brothers and sisters. On Saturday 21st December, as I was saying the closing remarks and prayer at the meeting of the Diocesan Finance Board (meeting started at 9.00 am and finished at 6.30 pm), I spontaneously said ‘this is how things should be; that the laity give professional guidance and direction to the diocese’. The Diocesan Finance Board is chaired and made up of mainly lay professionals many from the banking, finance and business industry. They sat the whole day with no personal benefits to themselves. And I said ‘this is how it should be’. And this is our Catholic Church throughout the whole diocese. The Diocesan Finance Board is only one example among a myriad of examples throughout the diocese. I said over one thousand prayer
centres (or if you prefer churches). Each of these have a committee. The bigger churches have several committees; Local Pastoral Council, Liturgical Committee, Choirs, Altar Servers, Ba Chimwemwe, Ba Youth, Development Committee, etc All running with that spirit of volunteerism. And I haven’t mentioned the work done by the many groups, the Bamama ba Chitemwano, the Catholic Women’s Association, the Legion of Mary, the Third Order of St Francis, the Badada ba Mtima Utuwa, the Badada ba Yosefe, the Young Christian Students, the Young Christian Workers, the Lay Marianists, the Secu-lar Institute of the Missionaries of the Kingship of Christ — all working to build up the Kingdom of God in Mzuzu. And just to emphasise the holistic nature of the ministry in Mzuzu Diocese, let me mention we have 265 School Institutions (including Mzuzu and Bowe and Embangweni Technical Colleges, St John’s Institute of Health, St John of God College of Health Science, 9 secondary schools, a school for the physically challenged, a school for the blind), five hospitals with many out-clinics, a Justice and Peace Department promoting gender issues including rights of women to own land and rights of the girl child, A Development Department promoting sustainable farming, environment and reforestation and a Communications Department which boasts of a vibrant Radio Station.
If I was pressed to mention the greatest achievement or the most important activity in Mzuzu Diocese besides the develop-ment of the new parishes, I would have to highlight the Sunday School Program which is made possible by the Coppel Family. The training of the one and a half thousand teachers of Sunday School, the production of the Child Friendly Cate-chism and the Social Catechism for the Youth, etc. And the ongoing implementation of the Child Safeguarding and Pro-tection Policy at all levels. We are proud of the thousands of lay leaders which keep all of this going every days from the Nyika Plateau to Kasungu and from Zambia to Likoma.
Christmas time is here. We wish all a Happy, Joyful, Peaceful Celebration of the Birth of Jesus. This celebration should not be just remembering the past (what happened two thousand years ago) but also making that Event real and present again for ourselves, our families and our communities. Let us spread love and peace this Christmas.
And now our thoughts go immediately to the New Year 2020. Besides continuing with the building up of the new parish-es, besides continuing to promote Sunday School, besides continuing to implement Child Safeguarding and Protection at all levels and besides building a new Teachers Training College in Mzambazi, we wish to focus especially on the more vulnerable among us. We are thinking of 1) St Maria Goretti School for the Blind in Nkhata Bay (which recently received gift of a Sightbox from Sightbox an Organization from UK) and 2) St Magdalena School for the Physically Handicapped in Rumphi. In 2020 we hope to make life a bit easier and a little bit more comfortable for these our brothers and sisters.
We also pray for continuing peace in Malawi as we await the judgement of the Constitutional Court on the 2019 elections case. We pray that justice will prevail. We pray that we will all maintain peace in our hearts, in our minds, in our commu-nities, in our political parties and in our country. May God bless Malawi with peace. From us here in Mzuzu Diocese we wish all our friends, partners and well wishers all God’s Graces and Blessing throughout the coming year 2020.
With Prayers and Best Wishes
+John A Ryan