Catholic chiefs under Nathenje parish in the Archdiocese of Lilongwe have formed an association to deepen their faith and help the parish in its pastoral and development work.

The association called Catholic Chiefs Organization was officially launched on Sunday during the feast of Christ the King. It has so far 111 members.

The formation of the association is an initiative of Nathenje Parish priest Fr. Stephen Chikhasu.

Fr Chikhasu said the association has come about after it was observed that there was a gap between traditional leaders and the Church. The chiefs were also ridiculed whenever they went to congregate with their subjects.

“Traditional leaders were on one side and the church on the other. We want to bring them back to their church where they will be able to make positive contributions,” said Chikhasu during the launch.

The Parish expects the chiefs to ensure that their people respect Sunday as the day for worshipping God. They are also expected to promote ecumenism so that different religions co-exist peacefully in their areas.

Further, the chiefs are challenged to identify relevant development projects for their areas and the parish for the integral development of their people.

The chiefs are also expected to bring sanity to the conflicts that arise between some cultures and the church. Chikhasu said sometimes the Gulewamkulu, literary  translated as Mask Dance –  a traditional practice among the Chewa people, and the Church are pushed into conflicts over funeral rites.

“We want our chiefs to bring sanity among the different cultures,” said Chikhasu adding that they should remove bad elements in some cultures that compromise people’s faith.

He added, “Ultimately, our main desire is to achieve the first mission of the Church which is salvation of all souls.”

Chairperson of the Catholic Chiefs Organization, Village Headman Kachule whose real name is Fabiano Laurent said the chiefs were ridiculed and called all sorts of names whenever they went to pray with their subjects.

“Our people regarded us as evil people who cannot go to church. People thought a traditional leader could not go to church. This mentality should be removed. Being a chief does not mean that one is not a Christian. Christianity came first before becoming a chief.

“The church sidelined us. We thank Fr Chikhasu for bringing us back into our rightful place,” said Kachule.

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