Archbishop George Desmond Tambala

Pope Francis appointed Right Reverend George Desmond Tambala as Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Lilongwe in Malawi where the Archdiocese has been vacant since 14 December 2020 following the passing on of ArchbishopTarcisius Gervazio Ziyaye.

The Holy See Press office published the appointment of Archbishop-elect George Desmond Tambala on Friday, October 15,2021.

The Secretary General of the Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM) Fr. Henry Saindi also publicized this latest Papal appointment on the same day, referring to the representative of the Holy Father the Apostolic Nuncio to Malawi and Zambia.

In his statement shared with ECM Communications, Fr. Henry Saindi states, “His Excellency Archbishop Gianfranco Gallone the Apostolic Nuncio to Malawi and Zambia is pleased to announce that His Holiness Pope Francis has appointed Right Reverend George Desmond Tambala as the Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Lilongwe.”

“We have every reason to rejoice and congratulate the Archbishop-elect as through his appointment we witness yet another indication of divine providence and the pastoral care of Jesus Christ the Good Shepherd,” reads part of the statement signed by Fr Henry Saindi on 15th October 2021.

Rt. Rev. Bishop George Desmond Tambala was born in Zomba on 11 November 1968 in the family 8 Children (now remaining 5). He grew up in Machinga District where his parents were teaching. He went to Ulongwe Preparatory Seminary and from 1983 to 1987 he attended secondary education at the Child Jesus Nankhunda Minor Seminary in Zomba and later attended the Inter-Congregational Seminary (ICS) now called inter-Congregational Institute in Balaka district from 1987 to 1990.

In 1990 he went to Nigeria where he entered the Novitiate in the Discalced Carmelites Order and made his first Religious profession on 31 July 1991.After his first profession he come back to Malawi to do pastoral work in Kapiri Parish for one year. In 1992 he went for his theological studies at Tangaza College in Nairobi, Kenya.

He was ordained a deacon in 1995 and did his final profession the same year. He was later ordained a priest on 13 April 1996 by late Archbishop Tarcizio Ziyaye at Chiphaso Parish in the Archdiocese of Lilongwe. After his priestly ordination he was appointed to serve at Kapiri Parish as the parish priest from 1996 to 1998.

In 1998 he went to Spain for studies at Teresa-St John of Avila International Centre, and in 2000 he obtained a licentiate in theology at the Faculty of Northern Spain.

The Archbishop-elect who holds a licentiate in Theology from the Faculty of Northern Spain has served in various ministries, including Parochial Vicar in Kapiri-Archdiocese of Lilongwe (1996-2002); Postulants Master in Balaka and teacher of Spirituality (2000-2002); Provincial Delegate Superior in the mission of the Province of San Joaquin of Navarre in Malawi (2002-2008); Superior of the House of Spirituality of Nyungwe-Blantyre. From 2009, he has been Definitor General in Charge of Africa and Madagascar and the Order of Discalced Carmelites.

In 2015 he was appointed as Bishop of Zomba Diocese and he has been there since his Episcopal Ordination on 30 January 2016. When he takes canonical possession of the Archdiocese of Lilongwe on 27th November 2021, he will remain at the helm of Zomba Diocese as Apostolic Administrator.

In an exclusive interview with ECM Communications, Bishop Tambala said expressed his surprise that he was appointed by Pope Francis to be the Archbishop of Lilongwe Archdiocese.

“The appointment come as a surprise to me, we as priests one of the things that we come to accept is that our journey is full of surprises of obedience. The day I was ordained to serve as a priest (and that has been and is still my deep desire): but along priesthood, we are sometimes called to serve in different ways. I was called and I was told that the Holy Father has appointed me as archbishop; I accepted because it is a call for obedience. Am happy to be the Archbishop of Lilongwe Archdiocese now and I have always been happy from the day I decided to serve in the Catholic Church as a priest,” said Bishop Tambala.

Bishop Tambala said he will work in corroboration with priests, and the Christians in Lilongwe Archdiocese.

“Am looking forward to work in corroboration with the Church here in Lilongwe, I count on the experiences that I have before me, the experiences of other Bishops, the experiences of the priests and the Laity. The shoes of the late Archbishop are too big to fill; I feel so small. He was an exceptional Shepherd but am looking forward to join this journey which was started by Archbishop Ziyaye and with my brother priests and the whole Church, we will move together,” said  the Archbishop-elect.

“The sense of the Church which says people are participating together (Mpingo Ndife Tonse) is something that should be promoted. The Church should not only be propagating itself but it should sustain itself and I am looking forward to build on that. I would also love to see the Small Christian Communities being revived, and make sure that the priests are being cared for and supported by the Church,” he continued.

When asked why his Appointment as a Bishop of Zomba Diocese and Archbishop of Lilongwe Archdiocese comes on the feast of Saint Teresa of Avilla, Bishop Tambala said it is because the Saint is very close to His Heart.

“On both occasions, I was asked to choose my date of preference to announce my appointment, I chose the days of Saint Tereza of Avila because the saint is very close to my heart. I have been shaped a lot by her, she is the Doctor of the Church and I very much love her teaching and I also teach about Her. Both appointments came close to the Feast of that Saint,” he said.

He then appealed to the Church saying we should always be encouraging each other in challenging times; that there is hope for the Church; that the youth for example have a future to look forward to in the Church. He also encouraged the faithful who are gathering in different movements to continue praying more, and he also encouraged the priests to keep soldiering on when they are down by the anxieties and disappointments.

The Motto of his life is taken from phrase from St Paul: Dives in Misericordia (“God who is rich in Mercy), Saint Paul tells us that even though we are weak, God has mercy on us.

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