He was also the founder of the Franciscans of Our Lady Mother of Africa, a female Religious Congregation.
Cardinal Alexandre also hosted Pope St. John Paul II when the Pontiff made his Apostolic visit to the country in 1988.
In a message obtained by ACI Africa October 1, the Director of IMBISA Secretariat says the late Cardinal is a representation of “that special generation of leaders in the Church.”
“The Cardinal is among the first generation of African Priests. He is also the first generation of African Bishops, having become an Archbishop of Maputo at that time when Mozambique was just becoming independent. This was not an easy time,” Fr. Dumisani Vilakati says in his interview with South Africa’s Radio Veritas.
He adds that the late Cardinal served Mozambicans during some of the difficult moments of colonization and the civil war.
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“As a Priest and as a Friar among the Franciscans, he would have gone through these years of liberation to lead us, as well as afterwards to become the Archbishop of Maputo. He had to lead an important Archdiocese in a country engulfed by civil war, so certainly not an easy period,” says the IMBISA official.
Nevertheless, Fr. Vilakati further says, the late Cardinal served the people of God “with tactic until he handed over in 2003 when the civil war was well over.”
The Archbishop emeritus of Maputo was also instrumental in “the journey of reconciling a fractured country” after the Mozambican civil war, the Catholic Priest recalled.
Making reference to the late Cardinal’s role in founding IMBISA, Fr. Vilakati said that the Mozambican Cardinal represented “that generation of Prelates with an international mind, with a worldview that was wider, aware that for Africa to prosper and to grow we needed to pull together and to work together.”
He adds that the establishment of IMBISA remains one of Cardinal Alexandre’s legacy as it speaks to a united Church.
“In these days when some people are tempted to engage in destructive nationalism, we need to create this atmosphere among the faithful, that the Church goes beyond the Parish, the Diocese. The Church is wider than the nation; we belong to one Catholic Church, which is present all over the world,” Fr. Vilakati emphasizes.
He continues in reference to the late Cardinal, “He is just one of the few Cardinals that we had in this part of the world, so we mourn his death but we still are grateful to God that He has given us such a member who could see far, way ahead, so that the Church can prosper and work for the good of the Church.”
Sheila Pires, a South Africa-based journalist with Radio Veritas, who knew the late Cardinal from a young age says the late Catholic Church leader was always helpful to her and her family.
“I have fond memories of Dom Alexandre; he and my grandfather, my Mom's father were best of friends; they grew up together and went to the same schools,” Ms. Pires told ACI Africa, and added, “When my grandfather died in 1983, Dom Alexandre assured my Mom that he would always take care of her and her children.”
The Mozambican-born radio journalist further recalls that the late Cardinal “did a lot for us; thanks to him my elder sister got medical funding from Caritas SA (South Africa) in 1986 for medical assistance here in SA Johannesburg General Hospital.”
“He always helped us when we traveled to SA or Swaziland for medical purposes,” Ms. Pires further recalls, adding that the Cardinal “did a lot for many.”
Cardinal Alexandre is expected to be laid to rest in Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Cathedral of Mozambique’s Maputo Archdiocese on October 7.
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.