Catholic Bishops in DRC in Solidarity with Sisters after Fire Injures Dozens of Students

The fire incident at Mwanga High School. Credit: CENCO

Catholic Bishops in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have expressed solidarity with Notre Dame Sisters after a school they run in the country was razed down, leaving one student dead and 132 others seriously injured.

The Monday, April 24 fire at Mwanga High School, which is run by the Congregation of the Sisters of Notre Dame Chanoinesses de Saint Augustin in DRC’s Catholic Diocese of Kolwezi reportedly broke out when the students were in their classrooms in a storey building.

Clips that were shared online showed a huge cloud of smoke as hundreds of students jumped down to safety from the storey building.

In their Tuesday, April 25 statement shared with ACI Africa, members of the Episcopal Conference of the Congo (CENCO) say that they were saddened by the devastation at the school, which is also referred to as Lycée Notre Dame de Lumière.

“It is with great sadness that we witnessed, on April 24, 2023, the fire that devastated the Lycée Notre Dame de Lumière (Mwanga) of Kolwezi, a work of the Congregation of the Sisters of Notre Dame Chanoinesses de Saint Augustin and a symbol of the Church's inherent mission of education,” CENCO members say.


They further express their solidarity with the Local Ordinary of Kolwezi as well as the leadership of the Sisters’ Congregation, saying, “In the face of this tragedy, our thoughts are with His Excellency Bishop Richard Kazadi, Bishop of Kolwezi; with Reverend Sister Mireille Ilunga, Provincial Superior, and all the Sisters of her religious family. With them, we share the sufferings of the families of the children who attend this school, especially that of the deceased student.”

“We express our spiritual closeness to the entire population of Kolwezi. May the injured children, the teaching staff, and the Religious of Notre Dame, affected by this tragedy, be reassured of our compassion and our prayers,” Catholic Bishops in DRC say.

They laud the cooperation from various agencies as well as the local community that responded swiftly to the fire incident to control its devastation.

The Catholic Church leaders further appeal to the Congolese government and well-wishers to offer to help in the repair of the damage caused to the school so that the children recover as soon as possible the good conditions of study.

CENCO members express solidarity with families of affected students, saying, “Through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Our Lady of Light, may the Risen Lord console the bereaved family and grant eternal rest to the deceased child.

More in Africa

May God “heal the wounds of the wounded, and give courage and hope to the students and teachers as well as to the religious administrators of the Mwanga High School,” they implore in their April 25 statement.

Agnes Aineah is a Kenyan journalist with a background in digital and newspaper reporting. She holds a Master of Arts in Digital Journalism from the Aga Khan University, Graduate School of Media and Communications and a Bachelor's Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communications from Kenya's Moi University. Agnes currently serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.