The Congregation of the Missionaries of Mariannhill have ended their 16th General Chapter with the new Superior General, Fr. Thulani Victor Mbuyisa, telling delegates that the Holy Father, Pope Francis told him: “Tell your confreres to be faithful to the spirituality of your founder (Abbot Francis Pfanner).” Fr. Thulani narrated this during the General Chapter’s closing Mass at the Mariannhill Generalate in Rome at the weekend.
Fr. Thulani accompanied by the outgoing Superior General, Fr. Damian Weber, met Pope Francis last week on Wednesday in St. Peter’s.
After passing on the message of the Holy Father to the delegates, Fr. Thulani then proceeded to officially send the delegates from the Chapter back to their regions. He encouraged them to share the experiences of the Chapter with other brothers who had sent them to Rome as representatives.
During the same Mass, Fr. Thulani commissioned and gave the mission cross to Fr. Brian Nonde, a Zambian Mariannhill priest, who has been tasked to go to the Mariannhill Mission of Papua New Guinea.
Speaking earlier to Vatican Radio’s English Africa Service, Fr.Thulani, who hails from South Africa and is the first African to hold the office of Superior General in the congregation, described his election as a call to service.
“This election for me is a calling within a wider call. I have received it as a call to serve. It is not a career since religious life, and the priesthood are not careers but vocations. The Church teaches us that we have to be open to the will of God in our lives, even if we have our own personal preferences. It is in this light that I have responded and entrusted myself to God who calls and who has called me in this special moment in the life of the Church and our world through the voice of my confreres,” he said.
Fr. Thulani described the just ended Chapter as a process of listening again to the will of God and evaluating the life and activities of the Congregation. It was also an opportunity to look back and to the future, to the year 2022 when the mandate of the new leadership team will be due for renewal.
“During the Chapter, we were asking ourselves the questions: How do we fulfil our mission mandate in this day and age? What kind of leadership and style of leadership do we want? What is the Church especially Pope Francis calling us to be and do today? What is our relevance in the world today?” he explained.
The new leadership team headed by Fr. Thulani comprises Fr. Wenceslaus Kwindingwi from Zimbabwe; Fr. Michael Mass, Germany; Fr. Patrick Chongo, Zambia and Brother Hansel Jaison of Zimbabwe.
Born in Exobho (Ixopo), KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, on the 13 February 1973, Fr. Thulani had at the time of his election completed serving as the Vicar in the Congregation.
The Congregation of the Missionaries of Mariannhill also known as the Missionaries of Mariannhill is an international religious missionary congregation of religious brothers and priests. The members describe themselves as contemplatives in action.
Although Abbot Francis Pfanner, the founder, was already a Trappist monk, the congregation started in 1909 when Pope Pius X decided to separate the Mariannhill from the Order of the Reformed Cistercians. The Mariannhill are still a community that believes in the ancient motto of their roots: “Ora et Labora” (Pray and work). The motto, they say, encourages them to be praying workers and working worshippers – contemplative missionaries.
The Missionaries of Mariannhill are in South Africa, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Kenya, Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Netherlands, Italy, Spain, USA, Canada, Colombia and Papua New Giunea.
(Fr. Paul Samasumo, Vatican Radio)