Archbishop Thomas Msusa of Blantyre Archdiocese has clarified on why the late Fr. Danasiano Kunkeyani was buried at Limbe cathedral and accorded a Christian burial despite being suspended by the authorities.
Thousands of mourners gathered at Limbe Cathedral in the Archdiocese of Blantyre on Tuesday of 30th September, 2014 to mourn Fr. Kunkeyani who passed on early hours of Monday and was laid to rest the following day at Limbe Cemetery after requiem mass in Limbe Cathedral.
The deceased, who once served at Limbe Cathedral, Pius XII Minor Seminary, Muropwe and Namulenga Parishes, died at Mlambe Hospital after a short illness which started early weeks of September.
The deceased, who was suspended by the Archdiocesan authorities in 2010 due to inappropriate clerical life, became sick while he was in the process of coming back.
His sudden death raised a number of questions such as; where would he be buried since Catholic Priests in the Archdiocese are laid to rest at Limbe Cemetery. How would the funeral mass be conducted in his present situation?
The mass, which was attended by three Bishops, Bishop Emeritus of Zomba Diocese, Bishop of Mangochi and Archbishop of Blantyre Archdiocese namely; Rt. Rev. Allan Chamgwera, Rt. Rev. Montfort Stima and Archbishop Thomas Msusa respectively, was celebrated by the Chairperson of Diocesan Priests in Blantyre Archdiocese Fr. Philip Mbeta.
It was mass that attracted so many priests, professed nuns and brothers and the Laity in Malawi.
During the homily, Fr. Paul Nampota of Carmelite Congregation, highlighted about the mercy of God to all his children and recalled that mass readings from the previous Sunday had been engaging people to ask questions about life. No wonder people were also compelled to ask many questions about the death of Fr. Kunkeyani and the events around it.
“We cannot run away from asking questions this week. In fact the readings this week and today are encouraging us to ask questions. And during this funeral service obviously many of you have questions in your heart and mind. God who is merciful has got the answers for all the questions we have,” said Nampota.
Notable things that were queer were as follows; the main celebrant was different, there was no chalice and stole on top of the coffin, the main choir was not engaged, just two eulogies in the Cathedral instead of normal five, only relatives and Catholic Women with wreaths laid the wreaths and the mass started at 1300 hours and not 1000 hours. Obviously to those who did not know the circumstances about this death or what was going on such things were to make them ask questions.
However, His Grace clarified on the whole issue in an interview with Nyasa Times. For instance, the Archbishop said proper procedures were followed and that it was a matter of understanding.
For instance, Msusa said the proper procedures were followed referring to the booklet titled pastoral directives on Christian burial which was produced in November1995 and signed by seven Bishops.
The bishops who signed for it then were: the late Bishop Felix Mkhori, the late Bishop James Chiona, the late Bishop Alessandro Assolari, Emeritus Bishop Allan Chamgwera, the late Bishop Gervasio Chisendera, Archbishop Tarsizio Ziyaye and Bishop Joseph Zuza.
Part of conclusion in the booklet states that there is need for Catechesis and a call for renewed attitudes and vision.
“With the foregoing of our bishops, we your bishops intend to teach and give pastoral direction and guidelines in the area of Christian burial rites. We are aware that each one of us is our church community is invited to a change of attitude since a new pastoral approach is being presented to us. All of us; clegy, religious and laity are to be catechised,” reads part of the booklet.
“We urge our priests, our immediate co workers and all pastoral workers to draw a renewed vision from this. We ask you to consider funerals as very special opportunities and important responsibility of your ministry. These are extraordinary moments of grace when we can proclaim the powerful, consoling and hope giving word of God to our people.
“We serve a God, not of the dead but of the living and so let our celebration give living hope to our people,” it concludes.
His Grace emphasized that Christian burial is a right not a privilege and insisted that Fr Kunkeyani died while in the process of becoming back into priesthood.
He said Fr Kunkeyani’s relatives linked up with the archdiocesan authorities when the deceased was sick.
The Archdiocese took over from the relatives and started taking care of the deceased both at St. James House, where old and sick people reside, and later at Mlambe Hospital.
“All this happened because the deceased had insisted that he wanted to come back to the ministry and above all an archdiocesan priest. Fr Kunkeyani needed support physically and spiritually. Any human person needs love and care,” said His Grace.
His Grace said, when the late Fr Kunkeyani was discharged from the hospital he told him that he wanted to go back to priesthood.
“We continued to share and discuss a number of issues until he died while still in the process of coming back. Whoever is baptized as a Roman Catholic requires a Christian burial,” states His Grace.
He also emphasasized that burying him at the Cathedral was fine because at the time of his death he was in the process of coming back.
Chipping in was Fr Boniface Tamani, who indicate that that Kunkeyani was still a Catholic Priest by the time of his death because there was no application for laicization or special certification granting priests not to be bound by clerical obligations.
“This was never applied by the individual and the Archdiocese itself, hence he remained a priest throughout his four year absence of priestly services in the Archdiocese. I was at the hospital with him where he stressed of coming back into priesthood and we saw a strong willing in him,” said Tamani.
He also said Fr Kunkeyani received sacrament of penance, which is very important in the Catholic Church.
The deceased, who was charming, jovial, entertaining and original in his presentations, hailed from Butao Village, T/A Mlauli in Neno District. He was in the final group of priests ordained by late Archbishop James Chiona on 8th July 2000 after going to Pius XII minor Seminary in 1988 and then Kachebere and St. Peters Major Seminary in 1993 and 1997 respectively.
He was one of the brains behind ‘Machecks’ Programme on Radio Maria which became popular among the Youth in the country. He has passed away at the age of 42.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :