Blantyre Archdiocese catholic priest in Malawi who has fathered more than five children and was suspended in 2010 for disobeying his vow of celibacy, Fr Dasiano Kunkeyani, died on Monday morning forcing authorities to accord him with irregular burial ceremony.
Fr. Kunkeyani, who was ordained in 2010 died at Mlambe Catholic Hospital in Blantyre around 03.00 hours while on oxygen. He was staying in Lunzu with his partner and children and teaching at Matindi Private Secondary School in the same locality.
The news about Kunkeyani’s death sent tongue wagging among the priests, nuns and the laity as to what kind of burial ceremony would be accorded to him since he had been staying in marriage from 2010 when former auxiliary bishop Montfort Stima together with former archbishop Tarcizio Ziyaye for Blantyre suspended him.
One priest in Lilongwe Archdiocese, Fr. Kamzere, who also died while in marriage was buried at his home in Guilleme, Mchinji, some years ago after his bishop refused to have him buried at the diocese cemetery where dead priests are buried.
The new archbishop for Blantyre Archdiocese Thomas Msusa has allowed Fr. Kunkeyani’s body to be buried at the diocese’s cemetery but the body was not allowed to lie in state in the cathedral instead it was kept at the College of Medicine mortuary.
Another irregular aspect is that the body would be moved from the mortuary in the afternoon for burial in Limbe. But before the burial, there will be mass in the cathedral.
The normal thing is that when a priest dies, his body is brought to the cathedral where it lies in state while the laity including the clergy would come for dirges and prayers and celebration of mass throughout the night and on the following morning, holy mass is offered for him from around 10 am followed by decent burial.
Blantyre Archdiocese secretary for Association of the Diocesan Clergy of Malawi Fr. Pahuwa communicated to all priests on Monday that Fr. Kunkeyani’s body would be taken from the mortuary in the afternoon.
“Now Fr Kunkeyani funeral program. Burial is tomorrow [Tuesday]. College of medicine (8am). Burial mass (1pm) lets be there in both moments. Pahuwa S,” reads Fr Pahuwa’s communication to all priests in the archdiocese.
A number of Catholics including the clergy could not hold their chests but ventured into debate over the irregular burial.
One nun said: “Koma ndiye zochititsa manyazi. [This has brought shame to the Church]”
One laity said: “He should have been buried at his home village not the cathedral. He was a married man. How could an ordained priest have over three wives more than five children? He was living with one of the wives in Lunzu until his death. So, is the Catholic Church going to take care of his children? I am sure it should. It seems that is the requirement.”
Another laity also said: “This death is a wakeup call to all priests who value sex more than their vocation. There are more others with wives and children and we know them some of them. We are watching. Archbishop Msusa has been very accommodating. Fr. Kunkeyani should have been buried at his home in Neno. A fellow bishop in Lilongwe did not allow his priest, Fr. Kamzere, to be buried at the diocese cemetery after the priest spent so many years in marriage.”
Fr. Kunkeyani was suspended from active ministry as a priest in 2010 after he fathered two children with a Mulanje woman. That time. Fr. Kunkeyani was parish priest for Mulopwe parish in Mulanje district where two women used to meet and fight over him in the parish. He had also another wife at Luchenza in Thyolo according to church sources.
Tension reigned high in the people as to what would happen at the burial with several wives and children mourning for their husband and children respectively.
Fr. Kunkeyani was suspended after authorities credibly found out that he forewent his celibacy and fathered the children.
Former auxiliary bishop for Blantyre Archdiocese who is now bishop for Mangochi diocese, Montfort Stima confirmed Kunkeyani’s suspension.
He said: “You must understand the Catholic Church is a very huge institution as such priests have a very huge responsibility which requires integrity. Church is the image of God…we carry the work of God and this is very delicate. We cannot condone indecency among our priests.
Celibacy is considered an important part of the Catholic priesthood, a sign of a priest’s commitment to God and service. Technically, celibacy is the commitment not to marry. In the Latin (Roman) Catholic Church, it is a prerequisite for ordination to the priesthood. Catholic church teaching reserves sexual activity to marriage, celibacy also requires abstinence.
Current church teaching sees celibacy as a gift that God bestows on those who are called to the priesthood. Among the church’s arguments in defense of celibacy is the example of Jesus, which must be reflected in the life of a priest. Through celibacy the priest mirrors the love that Christ has for all, a love that the priest, unattached to spouse and children, can also extend.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :