President Prof. Peter Mutharika Tuesday said the Catholic Church in Malawi was moving forward following the election of a new Bishop of Mzuzu Diocese to replace late Bishop Joseph Zuza.
Prof. Mutharika made the observation at Kamuzu Palace in Lilongwe when the leadership of the Catholic Church in Malawi paid him a courtesy call to introduce to the Malawi leader Bishop-elect of Mzuzu Diocese, the Rt. Rev. Fr. Prof. John Alphosus Ryan, 64.
The Rt. Rev. Father Prof. Ryan will be ordained at a ceremony to be held in Mzuzu on August 27, according to the Archbishop for Blantyre Archdiocese, Thomas Msusa.
Prof. Mutharika expressed gratitude to Pope Francis for appointing Prof. John Ryan to the position, saying the bishop-elect was a gift of faith to Malawi.
“Many have known Ryan as Professor of Mathematics, specialized in Coding Theory; but Pope Francis and the Catholic Church saw more – they saw a Bishop: congratulations Professor Bishop-elect,” he said.
He said government would do all it could to work with the Bishop-elect to benefit the Church’s Christians who he said were also government’s citizens and voters.
Prof. Mutharika urged Malawians to believe in themselves and in their capabilities to work hard, be patriotic and become people of integrity for the good of the country.
He also thanked the Catholic Church in Malawi for the development work and support it renders to Malawians.
“I’m further pleased that government and the Church work together and know ourselves to be brothers and sisters in Christ,” Prof. Mutharika said, adding: “When we have doubts or questions, we dialogue and jointly find solutions: Let us keep the spirit.”
In his response, Archbishop Msusa who is also Chairperson of the Episcopal Conference of Malawi, described the meeting as an opportunity to cement the relationship between the Church and the state.
Msusa commended Prof. Mutharika for declaring a state of national disaster following the food shortage in the country.
He thanked development partners and organizations for their humanitarian support.
“We wish to renew our commitment as Catholic Church that we will continue supporting Malawians through prayer and humanitarian aid through our development commission,” Msusa said.
Fr. Prof. Ryan was born on 29 February, 1952 in Ireland and he joined the Missionary Society of St. Francis where he was later ordained priest on 18th June in 1978, according to Msusa.
Fr. Ryan was among the first pioneers of the Mzuzu University and first head of Mathematics. Until his election as bishop of Mzuzu Diocese, he has been Catholic Chaplain of Mzuzu University.
The Rt. Rev Father Prof Ryan speaks Tumbuka, Chindali and English.