“Serve the people with diligence and love”: Bishop to Malawi’s New Leadership

Bishop John Alphonsus Ryan of Malawi's Mzuzu Diocese.

A Catholic Bishop in Malawi has urged the country’s new President Lazarus Chakwera and his Deputy Saulos Chilima to keep to their campaign promises and serve the people with “diligence and love.”

“We hope that Chakwera and Chilima will do what they have said, that is to serve the people with diligence and love,” Malawi’s Nyasa Times has quoted the Bishop of Mzuzu Diocese, John Alphonsus Ryan as saying Wednesday, June 8.

“The President and Vice-President have emphasized the idea of servant leadership. That, they are there to serve. Our prayer is that they will continue with that servant leadership," Bishop Ryan, a member of St. Patrick’s Society for the Foreign Missions added.

The 68-year-old Irish-born Bishop who was presiding over the distribution of food items, money and other household items to vulnerable women in Mzuzu Diocese acknowledged Malawi’s new Head of State and his Deputy as “God-fearing leaders who have been in politics long enough to know what is best for the country.”

The Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) on June 27 declared Lazarus Chakwera, the leader of the opposition Tonse Alliance, the winner of the country's presidential election rerun.


Chakwera who was sworn-in on June 28 secured the required numbers with 58.57 percent of the votes, beating the incumbent Peter Mutharika who garnered 41.43 percent.

Last month, Bishops in Malawi under their common forum of the Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM) congratulated Lazarus Chakwera and his Deputy following their victory in the presidential election rerun of June 23 and urged them to keep to their campaign promises.

“We strongly call upon them to live up to their promises and be committed to fighting corruption, enforcing the rule of law and Constitutionalism, quality public service delivery, economic development for all which is a true meaning of leadership which is at the service of citizens and national unity,” the members of ECM said in a collective statement issued June 27.

Speaking at the July 8 event, the Local Ordinary of Mzuzu has been quoted as saying, “The Tonse Alliance government has made several promises to Malawians, including food security, ending unemployment and corruption and reducing presidential powers. We hope that they keep to these promises.” 

Reflecting on the COVID-19 pandemic, Bishop Ryan asked the government to come up with “a coherent and sustainable coronavirus response management system to stop the further spread of the virus and get the economy back on its feet.”

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Meanwhile, the Parish Priest of St. Peter’s Cathedral, the venue of the distribution of various supplies to the vulnerable members of society, outlined the role of the Church amid COVID-19 crisis.

“The Church will utilize its little resources to support vulnerable groups so that they are not heavily affected by COVID-19,” Fr. John Moyo has been quoted as saying.

He explained, “There are some families that were doing small businesses and with this capital boost, they can manage to sustain their businesses. But there are others that don’t have businesses. They need support to ensure that the families survive.”

One of the beneficiaries, Ernestina Kanyinji, who supports a family of nine, commended the Church leaders for the food and financial support, saying “life has been unbearable with COVID-19.”

“Our businesses are not doing well with coronavirus in place. I sell vegetables door-to-door but these days, some customers send me back saying there is coronavirus,” she recounted and added, “We thank the Catholic Church for their support in these trying times.”


Jude Atemanke is a Cameroonian journalist with a passion for Catholic Church communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Buea in Cameroon. Currently, Jude serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.