Parish coming to birth… with the help of the Irish Mercy Sisters…
Fr Brian O’Kane SMA hails from Omagh, Co Tyrone. Since ordination in 1965 he has been a missionary in Nigeria and Zambia. He also ministered in the diocese of Derry and was the Director of the Family Vocations Crusade (FVC) in Dromantine in the 1990’s.
After his return to Zambia he was assigned to the diocese of Ndola where, since 2008, he is responsible for the development of a new parish. Called the “Divine Mercy parish” it was carved out from the Cathedral parish, in a fast developing area on the outskirts of Ndola city. Blocks for the Church are ,ade on site using the Hydraform block-making machine.
At present it has a worshipping community of over 800. Measuring 25 x 20 metres it will seat 700 comfortably. Meeting rooms, Sacristy etc will be added in time. Behind the church there is an already existing Office and Conference room for use by the different parish groups.
When the Mercy Sisters left their convent in Ennistymon, Co Clare they generously donated the Tabernacle from the community Chapel to the Divine Mercy parish. Fr Brian has many unemployed in the area. Three of his staff have physical handicaps but it does not stop them playing their part. Our picture shows James who is the ‘gardener’ for the Church compound, despite the loss of one hand.
Our picture below shows the building as of 25 March last. Much progress has been made since then. Fr Brian and the parishioners have received the kind permission of Bishop to use the Church for the Holy Week ceremonies. The following Sunday is the Feastday of the parish – Divine Mercy Sunday. It would be a great gift to them if they could get some financial support to complete the work. All the work is scheduled for completion by September 2011.
A fellow Tyrone man, Fr P J Gormley SMA (from Augher) is 30 minutes drive away in Kitwe town. Fr PJ is part of a three man SMA team with Frs Sylvester Ogbogu (from Nigeria) and Martin O’Farrell (Cork City). Other SMA priests serve throughout the diocese as well as in the Archdiocese of Lusaka.
The SMA team in Zambia comes from 6 countries: Ghana, Ireland, Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania and Zambia. As well as the traditional parish ministry our priests are involved in the training of seminarians for the priesthood, producing Radio & TV programmes, providing health care facilities etc.
In 2002, Fr Gustave Mukosha was ordained as the first Zambian SMA priest. Today there are eleven Zambians, nine of them ministering outside the country. Fr Gustave is the Deputy Regional Superior for Zambia as well as running a very busy city parish. Fr Robbin Kamemba SMA (from Kenya) is responsible for the initial training of young SMA seminarians from Zambia, Kenya and Tanzania at the SMA House in Kabwe. He is assisted by a Zambian SMA, Fr Moses Chileshe.
Frs Pauric Kelly (Galway) and Michael O’Shea (Cork City) are on the staff of the Major seminary at Mpima which trains diocesan students for the priesthood.
The block-making machine gives plenty of employment to locally-unemployed youth. At present they are making the blocks for the Church, and a Pre-School for 4 to 7 year olds. Later they may make blocks for sale to generate funds for the different parish activities.