Clergy in Malawi’s Dedza Diocese Elated Following Appointment of New Bishop

Fr. Peter Adrian Chifukwa, appointed Bishop of Malawi's Dedza Diocese by Pope Francis on May 8. Credit: Courtesy Photo

Members of the Clergy ministering in Malawi’s Dedza Diocese have expressed their joy at the news of the appointment of a new Bishop after just over three years of sede vacante.

Bishop-elect Peter Adrian Chifukwa, 47, is expected to succeed Bishop Emmanuel Cosmas Kanyama who succumbed to high blood pressure in February 2018 at the age of 55. The Diocese has been under the leadership of Fr. John Chithonje as Diocesan Administrator.

The appointment of Fr. Chifukwa for Dedza Diocese was made public Saturday, May 8.

In a statement shared with ACI Africa, the Secretary General of the Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM), Fr. Henry Saindi announced, “His Holiness Pope Francis has appointed Rev. Fr. Peter Adrian Chifukwa as Bishop of the Diocese of Dedza.”

“We have every reason to rejoice and congratulate the Bishop-elect as through his appointment we witness yet another indication of divine protection and the pastoral care of Jesus Christ the Good Shepherd,” Fr. Saindi added.


Reacting to the news of the Bishop-elect’s appointment on Monday, May 10, Fr. Chithonje told ACI Africa that the people of God in the Malawian Diocese “are filled with happiness and excitement that finally we have a Bishop.”

“It has been years without a Bishop and being a Diocesan Administrator, there were so many things that I could not give a final decision because the Local Ordinary was not there,” the Malawian Cleric who has been at helm of Dedza Diocese said.

He continued, “With the coming of the Bishop, we can move together as a Diocese and so many pending things can be accomplished as the Bishop can serve the people almost 100 percent.” 

“As a member of the Diocese, we expect that he will be able to prioritize the areas that need the first attention,” Fr. Chithonje further said, adding in reference to the newly appointed Bishop, “He should be a Bishop who is able to listen to the views and contributions of the people. He should be able to work with the laity, the Clergy and the religious people in the Diocese.”

He called on members of the Clergy ministering in the Malawian Diocese to collaborate with the new Bishop saying, “We should give him all the necessary support so that his work may not be a burden to him. His success is the success of the whole Diocese and his failure will be the failure of the whole Diocese.”

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Addressing himself to the people of God in Dedza Diocese that is within the Ecclesiastical Province of Lilongwe, Fr. Chithonje said, “Give a chance to the Bishop. He might not be able to fulfil all their expectations as soon as possible but they should give him all the support so that he serves them well.” 

A native of the Diocese of Dedza, Bishop-elect Chifukwa was ordained a Priest for his native Diocese in June 2004.

Until the May 8 appointment, the Bishop-elect served as the Chaplain to the Presentation Sisters, Rector of St. Kizito Minor Seminary, as well as Judicial Vicar of the Diocese of Dedza. 

Speaking to ACI Africa May 10, the Parish Priest of Mua Parish of Dedza Diocese, Fr. Christian Muhineza, said that he is “happy, excited and satisfied about this appointment because three years without a Bishop is not an easy thing.”

The member of the Society of the Missionaries of Africa (MAfr.) who has known the Bishop-elect since 2017 described him as “a very composed person, a quiet man, a kind man, a good listener and patient.”


“I feel that with such a personality, he is up to the task that he has been appointed to because in the Diocese, you come across different people and they all expect you to listen and attend to their needs,” Fr. Muhineza explained.

The Priest who also coordinates the activities of the Association of Men Religious in Malawi (AMRIL) and the Association of Women Religious in Malawi (AWRIL) in the Diocese of Dedza further said, “We expect that the Bishop will continue to work hard to unite us, the Religious, with the local Clergy.”

He went on to call on Religious men and women serving in the Malawian Diocese that was erected in April 1959 to “support, obey and listen” to the new Bishop.

“All of us should rally behind the newly-appointed Bishop. We pledge our support to him to facilitate the huge task that is ahead of him. We should also pray for him so that the mission which God has entrusted him with may be accomplished,” he said.

To the people of God in the Diocese, Fr. Muhineza said, “We have been expecting to have a Bishop for a long time. Support the new Bishop because when someone has been chosen for such a huge task, he needs everyone’s collaboration and support.”

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In their statement on the day the appointment of the Bishop-elect was made public, Malawi’s Vice President, Saulos Chilima, and his wife, Mary Chilima, say that their hearts “are in abundant celebrations for this day the 8th of May, 2020, God has anointed you unto the higher mission of continuing to serve his flock as Bishop of Dedza Diocese of the Roman Catholic Church.”

“As we praise and worship the Almighty for these blessings, we pray for the gifts of wisdom, robust health and strength as you continue serving the Lord, our Saviour, Jesus Christ,” the Chilima’s who are practicing Catholics say in the statement addressed to the Bishop-elect. 

In a separate message issued May 8, the leadership of the Montfort Missionary owned Luntha Television congratulated the Bishop-elect and sent their “prayerful wishes upon him and the entire Catholic Church of Dedza Diocese.”

The 4,250 square-kilometre Diocese has an estimated 63.7 percent Catholic population, according to 2020 statistics.

Magdalene Kahiu is a Kenyan journalist with passion in Church communication. She holds a Degree in Social Communications from the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA). Currently, she works as a journalist for ACI Africa.