In July 2007, he succeeded Bishop Felix Eugenio Mkhori as Local Ordinary of Lilongwe Diocese. When the Malawian Diocese was raised to the status of an Archdiocese in 2011, he was appointed Archbishop.
Addressing the congregation during the June 22 Requiem Mass, the Local Ordinary of Lilongwe Archdiocese, Archbishop George Desmond Tambala, described his predecessor as a missionary who “had a profound love for us in Malawi.”
“He was Malawian; that is why he remained in our country even after his retirement,” Archbishop Tambala said about his late predecessor.
Archbishop George Desmond Tambala. Credit: Courtesy Photo
Archbishop Rémi was spiritually prepared and “was ready to go,” Archbishop Tambala said, and recalling a conversation they had, added, “He was telling me that he had a lot of pain and said maybe it is time to go. When he said he was ready to go, I think it was a spiritual preparation.”
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The member of the Order of Discalced Carmelites (OCD) further said that Malawians “have enough reason to thank God for the life of Archbishop Rémi.”
“As an Archdiocese, I would like to encourage us to remember Archbishop Rémi with a lot of love,” the Archbishop who has been at the helm of Lilongwe Archdiocese since last November following his appointment in October said.
Credit: Catholic Archdiocese of Lilongwe, Malawi.
He added that whatever Archbishop Rémi “did for us, let us treasure it; let us continue his examples. The advice he gave us, it will be a pity to lose it; let us maintain it.”
On his part, the representative of the Holy Father in Malawi expressed gratitude to God for the service of Archbishop Rémi, first as a young missionary in the Southeastern African nation, and later as a Bishop and Archbishop.
“He was here in Malawi as a sign of the presence of the Almighty God of the Holy Trinity because when he arrived, he was a very young Priest and he started evangelizing,” Archbishop Gianfranco Gallone said during the June 22 Requiem Mass.
Archbishop Gianfranco Gallone. Credit: Courtesy Photo
Archbishop Gallone continued in reference to Archbishop Rémi, “As a Bishop, he administered the sacraments and ordained many Priests. We have to thank God for a good example of a Bishop, a missionary that left his country to come here in Malawi.”
“We also express in our prayer the request to maintain alive in our hearts the faith that he taught with enthusiasm,” Archbishop Gallone who also represents the Holy Father in Zambia said.
He continued, “This will be our program of life, to be witness of a holy life, maintaining in our hearts what was taught us by words and example by Archbishop Rémi.”
For Fr. Bill Turubull who worked closely with the late Archbishop, “It is difficult to say something about someone who had a long and fruitful life like Archbishop Rémi.”
Fr. Bill Turubull. Credit: Courtesy Photo
“The first time I met Archbishop Rémi was in 1975 and I remember that he was really well dressed,” Fr. Turubull recalled, and added, “He always kept those standards. He always pushed his students to get the best out of them. Same with Priests in the Archdiocese of Lilongwe.”
The root of all the love the late Archbishop manifested “came from his faith, his conviction,” the Catholic Priest said, and added, “He was a hard task master but with a good heart. He was always encouraging people. If you look at his life, he had the balance of intellectual and pastoral.”
“We thank God for Archbishop Rémi’s life and everything he did for us in Malawi,” Fr. Turubull said during the June 22 Requiem Mass.
In a condolence message read out during the Eucharistic celebration, members of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Evangelization said they learnt “with deepest sadness the passing unto eternity of the Most Rev. Rémi Joseph Gsutave Sainte-Marie, missionary of Africa, Archbishop emeritus of the Archdiocese of Lilongwe.”
Credit: Catholic Archdiocese of Lilongwe, Malawi.
“We express to you and to all Priests, religious and the laity our heartfelt condolences, assuring you of the closeness of this missionary dicastery this time of grief, commending the soul of Archbishop Sainte-Marie to the infinite mercy of Almighty God,” members of the Dicastery said in the message addressed to Archbishop Tambala and signed by Luis Antonio Gokim Cardinal Tagle.
In his condolence message, President Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera described the late Catholic Archbishop as “a dedicated servant of God and a tremendous gift to the Church and our country.”
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the Catholic Church fraternity, Christians in Malawi and the bereaved family in particular. May his soul rest in peace,” President Chakwera said in his message dated June 18.
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.