At Requiem Mass, Late Archbishop in Malawi Eulogized as Leader Who “stood up for justice”

Late Archbishop Rémi Joseph Gustave Sainte-Marie who died 18 June 2022 in Canada. Credit: Catholic Archdiocese of Lilongwe, Malawi.

At his Requiem Mass, the late Archbishop Rémi Joseph Gustave Sainte-Marie who died on Saturday, June 18 at the age of 84 has been remembered as a leader who “stood up for justice”, always siding with the poor and marginalized.

The late Archbishop Rémi who died in his native country of Canada was at the helm of Malawi’s Lilongwe Archdiocese until he retired in July 2013.

Credit: Catholic Archdiocese of Lilongwe, Malawi.

In a statement obtained by ACI Africa, members of the Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM) indicated that the late member of the Missionaries of Africa (White Fathers) was receiving medical treatment in Canada.

“We cannot thank God for the gift of Archbishop Rémi without appreciating his deep desire and commitment to justice especially for the poor and marginalized,” Bishop Martin Anwel Mtumbuka of Karonga Diocese said during the late Archbishop’s Requiem Mass Wednesday, June 22.


Bishop Martin Anwel Mtumbuka during the June 22 Requiem Mass at Maula Cathedral of Lilongwe Archdiocese. Credit: Courtesy Photo

“Even in the most trying times Archbishop Rémi always sided with the poor and stood up for justice,” Bishop Mtumbuka said about the late Archbishop who started his Episcopal Ministry in Malawi’s Dedza Diocese as Auxiliary Bishop after he had been consecrated in May 1998 and assigned the Titular See of Molicunza.

During the Eucharistic celebration that took place at Maula Cathedral of Lilongwe Archdiocese, Bishop Mtumbuka added, “I find it providential that we are celebrating this Requiem Mass for him on the Memorial of St. Thomas Moore who chose to die as a traitor of King Henry VIII and not a traitor of Jesus Christ and his Church.”

“As we pray for the repose of the soul of the servant of Christ Rémi Sainte-Marie we appeal to all those who fight for the rule of law, the welfare of the weak, the poor, the marginalized to remain brave and strong for their reward is great in heaven,” the Malawian Bishop said in his homily during the Requiem Mass of the Archbishop who had been at the helm of Lilongwe Archdiocese from February 2011.

He added, “Inspired by St. Thomas Moore and Archbishop Rémi, we as the Church remind duty bearers in this country, elected or appointed, that a good and responsible mother when she sees her child crying, she does not insult the child but finds out why the child is crying and attends to the problem.”

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Credit: Catholic Archdiocese of Lilongwe, Malawi.

Bishop Mtumbuka continued, “Death reminds us all of the fragility of earthly life and of our need to place our hope in the Lord alone, he who guides us on our pilgrimage through this valley of tears to the house of the heavenly Father.”

“Today, we remember Archbishop Rémi at the altar of the Lord, offering the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass which he himself offered for close to 59 years,” the Catholic Bishop said June 22.

Archbishop Rémi was ordained a Priest in June 1963. He served as Local Ordinary of Dedza Diocese from September 2000 to February 2006 when he was transferred to Lilongwe Diocese as Coadjutor Bishop.

Credit: Catholic Archdiocese of Lilongwe, Malawi.


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.