Fr Frank Mwinganyama
A Catholic rural Parish in the Archdiocese of Blantyre has set an enviable example of self-reliance by procuring a 32- seater bus from tithe collections. St. Armand – Neno Parish, the only Parish in the district has done the unexpected as it is a typical a rural location.
Explaining how the Parish has managed to achieve this feat, parish priest Fr Christopher Nakhate says, “People here have land and are hardworking and generous. We used these strengths as our starting point. During harvest time people give generously to the Church, especially their own produce. In 2019 harvest season the Parish collected about 873 bags of Maize and in 2020 harvest time we collected 1283 bags of maize. From the sales of these agricultural tithe collections we have managed to buy this coaster”.
The faithful have praised the leadership of their youthful parish priest, pastoral team and the parish council. Together with their faith community, they have braved the odds and proved that despite their own challenges they are capable of practically taking part in evangelization efforts of the Church. We can forget stories of gruesome killings of people suspected of practicing witchcraft.
Asked about how they will use this investment in the face of the poor road network, Fr Nakhate says the bus is meant to help in evangelization as well as fundraising. “Our Church groups spend a lot of money during visits and meetings outside the Parish. Here is an opportunity to make our church groups vibrant since this bus is going to ease transport problems. We shall also decide on when and how to use it for hire as a way of generating funds. We are hopeful that the roads will be improved.”
Commenting on this development, Pastoral Secretary of the Archdiocese of Blantyre, Fr Alfred Chaima says what Neno parishioners have done is in line with the strategic plan of the Archdiocese the issue of self- reliance is highlighted.
“We are aiming at maturing to the level of running all the affairs of the Church using local resources. It is now time for members of the local Church to feel responsible and get involved in pastoral and evangelizing projects of the Church. We commend Neno Parish. They have set an example on proper us of available resources to build a self-reliant Church.
The parish with its leadership is forward-looking. This year they have identified one a plot under Chave out-church where they are planting pine trees. This year alone they have planted about 1,200 trees expected to be harvested in twenty-five years to come. “We once earned good money from the sale of pine trees planted by our predecessors, so while decided to invest in this as well.” Said Fr Nakhate.
Neno Parish is one of the biggest and second oldest parishes under the Archdiocese of Blantyre, located in the remotest corner bordering Mozambique. It was established in 1904. There are 19 out-churches, with about 30,000 Catholic Christians. As a district, Neno has remained one of the least developed districts in the country. Late President Kamuzu Banda used to claim that when he came back to Malawi in 1958 he found people of this area walking ‘literary naked’. One admirable thing about Neno is the Catholic faith of the people.