Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I returned from Africa at the weekend after attending the funeral of Fr Charles Newell, the episcopal ordination of Bishop George Tambala and the meeting of the English speaking provinces in Africa.
The Nigerian friars did Fr Charles proud. They had a number of Masses in Enugu where Fr Charles had spent his last years with a final Mass at noon on 26th. I arrived as that was taking place. After Mass Fr Charles' body was taken to Nsukka
. An all night vigil took place there with Masses every three hours from 6.00 pm with prayers led by various groups from different parts of Nigeria between the Masses. His Funeral Mass took place on 27th and at the end of Mass the friars carried the casket to Fr Charles final place of rest. The Irish Ambassador, Mr Sean Hoy visited Fr Charles twice in the past year and was clearly very taken by him. He attended the 6 pm Mass on 26th and the Funeral Mass and paid a lovely tribute to him at the end of the Funeral Mass. The funeral was recorded on video and will be available in the near future on the www.ocd.ie
Bishop George Tambala's Ordination was also very memorable. Thousands of local people attended and sang their hearts out! There were about 200 priests of all over Malawi in attendance. A Carmelite Bishop from Madagascar, Mgr Fabien also attended. The President of Malawi attended and at the end of Mass presented Bishop George with a large fridge freezer! The Vice President gave him an exercise machine - he obviously wants Bishop George to stay in good health.
In the course of our meeting we visited the nuns in Zomba and had a lovely time with them. There are 5 Kenyan sisters and 2 Malawians, one of them a novice. Their monastery is beside the Bishop's house so we called in to the house on the off chance that Bishop George might be there. He was delighted to see us and gave us a guided tour. His personal accommodation is very modest. He has also begun to have Divine Office and Mass together with the staff resident in the house. He wrote a lovely email thanking us for our visit.
The meeting was very valuable and the hospitality of the Malawian friars was first class.
While in Africa I became aware that I had omitted two names from the list of Jubilarians - Frs Remigius and Silvester who celebrate their Silver Jubilee of Profession on July 31. Bishop George and three Malawian priests, Fr Philbert, Paul and Isaac made their profession in Nigeria on the same day! There will be a celebration in Nigeria in Dec and a joint celebration in Malawi on a date to be confirmed. My sincere apologies to Frs Remigius and Silvester. Their humility prevented them from informing me of my error!
I ask your prayers next week for a special intention.