Africa, June 2020, Vol. 85 No. 5
Nthezemu Kamanga reports on
Celebrating 25 years of
St John of God Hospitaller Services in Malawi
St John of God Hospitaller Services in Malawi celebrated its silver jubilee from October 29th to November 1st 2019. In 1994, the St John of God Order established the first mental health facility in the Northern Region of Malawi. This was at the invitation of St Patrick’s missionary, Monsignor John Roche, who was then Apostolic Administrator of Mzuzu Diocese. Activities to mark the 25 years of its existence took place in Lilongwe and in Mzuzu.
In Lilongwe, on October 29th, His Grace Archbishop Tarcisius Gervazio Ziyaye, who was the guest of honour and Br Jesus Etayo (Prior General of the Hospitaller Brothers of St John of God) blessed and officially opened the last phase of the magnificent buildings recently constructed in Lilongwe. They will be used for clients, staff members and the Brothers of St John of God.
The buildings which were dedicated and named during the silver jubilee celebrations include the chapel, the addiction and recovery rehabilitation centre, the Brothers’ community house, the administration block and the centre for living. The ceremony was well attended by people from the local parish of St Patrick’s and by politicians, well-wishers, co-workers of St John of God’s and invited guests both from within the country and abroad. In his address, His Grace Archbishop Ziyaye, emphasised the need to help the poor and the under-privileged, without conditions. His homily at Mass was based on the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37).
On Wednesday, October 30th, the focus was on a mental health conference. The conference had four main themes: addiction and recovery; suicide and suicide prevention; maternal mental health and the collaboration of mental health services in Malawi between St John of God Hospitaller Services and the government of Malawi through Zomba Mental Hospital.
Dr Charles Mwansambo, the chief of Health Services in the Ministry of Health was the guest of honour at the conference. He said that such academic conversations should open a window to more engagements among the mental health experts on issues that are affecting the country of Malawi today. He mentioned suicide, addiction and maternal mental health as current issues needing to be addressed seriously.
A thanksgiving Mass was celebrated at St Peter’s Cathedral in Mzuzu on November 1st, presided over by St Patrick’s Bishop John Ryan of Mzuzu Diocese. Among the concelebrants of the Mass were the bishop of Karonga Diocese, Bishop Martin Mtumbuka and Br Jesus Etayo. The Brothers of St John of God, who were present during the Eucharist, presented an account of their work of the past 25 years in Malawi.
The Mass was followed by a reception in the John Roche Hall at St John of God College of Health Sciences. The five Malawian pioneer co-workers of St John of God Order were honoured. Of the five, Harris Chilale, Angelline Jenda and Maxwell Chirwa are retired while Esnart Lungu is still working with St John of God Hospitaller Services. The fifth, Rose Nyasulu was honoured posthumously.
The Jubilee celebration was appreciated and enjoyed by everyone. The presence of Brother Brian O’Donnell, the former Prior General who commissioned the first Brothers and co-workers to come and start the mission in Mzuzu, spiced up the event. Further, the activities were not only attended by the St John of God co-workers and members of the Catholic Church but also religious leaders of other denominations, traditional healers and traditional leaders. Of particular note was the presence of the first fully professed Malawian St John of God Brother, Brother Samuel Mithi, who read the above mentioned script at the Mass. He is being followed by many young Malawian men who are preparing in formation to join the St John of God Brothers. Hopefully the good work begun 25 years ago will continue and flourish.
Nthezemu Kamanga works with St John of God Hospitaller Services in Malawi.
©Africa, St Patrick's Missions Magazine