, 17 April, 2020 / 1:49 AM
The Archbishop-elect of South Africa’s Bloemfontein Archdiocese is looking forward to a collaborative ministry with the people of God who will be under his care, he has said in an interview.
“I look forward to working with everybody. I believe that cooperation is very important, I hope nobody will fold their arms and say, let’s see what the new archbishop is going to teach us,” Archbishop-elect Zolile Peter Mpambani who was appointed on April 1 has been quoted as telling the Southern Cross Wednesday, April 15.
He expressed the hope of ministering among people “who are going to say, ‘This is what we know, the knowledge we have, this is what we are doing, can you add to this’.”
Currently the Local Ordinary of Kokstad diocese, the Archbishop-elect who is a member of the Congregation of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (SCI/Dehonians) is expected to succeed Archbishop Jabulani Adatus Nxumalo; he resigned after attaining the canonical age limit of 75.
On the responsibility that awaits him in Bloemfontein, the 63-year-old Prelate said, “I am not fearful,” and expressed confidence that his service of seven years in Kokstad diocese has equipped him with the necessary experience to take on the Metropolitan See.
“When I was appointed as the bishop of Kokstad, being in charge of a diocese after having been a priest, I didn’t know where I was going to begin and go forward, but it has taught me a lot and given me so much experience. This is what I’ll take with me to Bloemfontein,” he said.
“I know what is expected of a bishop, and what to expect of the faithful, the priests and everybody,” the Prelate responsible for Formation, Life and the Lay Apostolate at the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC) added.
The multilingual Archbishop-elect also said he will be counting on the experience and guidance of his predecessor, Archbishop Nxumalo, who has been at the helm of the 69-year-old Ecclesiastical See since 2005.
“Having Archbishop Nxumalo there, being able to have some sort of orientation, really helps. And then I’ll have my own meetings, and then I can see what the expectations are and how we are going to move forward,” the Archbishop-elect said during the interview.
As part of his responsibility during his stint at his Congregation’s headquarters in Rome between 1998-2003, the Archbishop-elect visited his confreres in many countries of the world, an experience which his predecessor, Archbishop Nxumalo considers handy for Bloemfontein city, which he says “is becoming more and more cosmopolitan, multi-ethnic and international because of immigrants from Europe, Asia and African countries.”
The Archbishop-elect is the third successive Local Ordinary of Kokstad to be elevated as Archbishop, following Wilfrid Cardinal Napier who headed the diocese from 1980-1992 before transferring to Durban, and his successor Archbishop William Slattery who was transferred to the Archdiocese of Pretoria in 2010.
“The appointment brought mixed feelings for me,” Archbishop-elect Mpambani said and added, “I’ve been busy with a lot of work in Kokstad, and was still developing a few things, so being told I’ll have to be in Bloemfontein in two months leaves very little time to finish things off and more so because of the lockdown.”
Accepting the challenge, he said, “I know that the same work that I’ve been doing here in Kokstad I could also do in the Archdiocese of Bloemfontein, which tells me that I should look forward to the future.”
ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.
Father Don Bosco Onyalla
Editor-in-Chief, ACI Africa