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Archbishop Ziyaye celebrates 25 Episcopal years

POPE Francis has said the Catholic Church is grateful for Lilongwe Archbishop Tarcisio Ziyaye’s fidelity, generosity and dedication to work. The Pope’s message was read out when the Catholic Church faithful from across the country and beyond converged at Maula Cathedral in Lilongwe yesterday to celebrate Ziyaye’s Episcopal silver jubilee.

During the celebrations, three people were also ordained as Catholic fathers, two celebrated 50 years of being Catholic fathers and one was also celebrating 25 years of priesthood.

Archbishop Ziyaye personal friends, Archbishop Liborius Ndumbukuti Nasheda of Windhoek Archdiocese in Namibia, Bishop Mickael Bhasela of Masvingo Diocese in Zimbabwe and the country’s Vice President Saulos Chilima were part of the celebrations. Pope Francis says the church is always happy to have people who sacrifice a lot in their lives to serve the church as Ziyaye is doing.

Chairperson for the Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM) Thomas Msusa said Ziyaye started his journey during a difficult time, when the Bishops had just written a Pastoral letter which changed the politics of the country. Msusa asked Ziyaye to keep reminding Malawians about that Pastoral letter. “You are a true missionary in your own country and beyond,” Msusa said.

Chilima said government cherishes the good relationship that exists between churches and government. He said it is the government’s wish to see that relationship growing strong for the physical and spiritual well-being of Malawians. Ziyaye said despite many challenges that he has encountered as a shepherd, God has given him a golden opportunity to have the general view and an idea of the Catholic Church in Malawi.

“Of course, there have been moments of joy, moments of celebration and also sad moments, including moments of heart breaking experiences but God is always good. He has kept me relatively in good health,” Ziyaye said.

The 68-year-old Ziyaye, who became an auxiliary bishop for Dedza Diocese in 1992, has been one of the key members of Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM) since his ordination. He  was the Episcopal Conference of Malawi chairperson for 12 years.

From Dedza, Ziyaye served the then Lilongwe Diocese before going to Blantyre Archdiocese as Archbishop. He later on went back to Lilongwe which at that time had changed to an Archdiocese.

Archbishop Ziyaye also served as chairperson of Public Affairs Committee (Pac) and Christian Service Committee. He was also the first Chancellor of the Catholic University of Malawi and at one time he also served as Chancellor of Catholic University of Eastern Africa. Archbishop Ziyaye was also chairperson for a grouping of religious leaders that was part of mediation team during the Section 65 saga. He became a Catholic father in 1977.

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