After the Superior of the Vice-province, Fr Chris Rychcik, with his Youth Ministry Delegate, Fr Chris Kunda, and Lilongwe Rector, Fr Michael Mbadama, welcomed the visitor at the airport, the first community of Don Bosco Lilongwe started immediately. After 26 years of Salesian presence in this landlocked African country we have now two canonical communities of Lilongwe and Nkhotakhota (230 km from the capital on the Malawi lakeside). In Malawi there are 11 Salesians (only 3 of them are coming out of Africa – from Poland, Vietnam and South Korea) and 15 prenovices (heading from all 4 countries of ZMB vice province).
The harvest in Malawi is plentiful, a small number of Salesian in two communities attends to two large parishes with 26,000 Catholics organized in 93 small Christian communities and six schools with a total youth population of almost 14,000 students. Both communities in Malawi closely accompany the young people also through the SYM and Youth Centers, with the presence of young people of different religions background. The Salesian Family is still in the rooting stage with one center of Salesian Cooperators, DB Past Pupils and ADMA respectively.
Mostly rural structure of Malawi with not-yet-well developed educational system makes the Charism of Don Bosco very relevant. The young Catholic community that celebrates this year only 120th Birthday (1901-2021) is very vibrant and the local vocations to priesthood and religious life are numerous.
Held during the visitation was a blessing of the boarding house of Don Bosco High School in Nkhotakhota (capacity of 150 boys) built with the generous help of the Rector Major and the Visitor was able to see probably one of the largest Salesian parish schools in Africa, Tsabango Primary and John Lee Memorial Primary schools in Lilongwe with more than 11,000 students (grade 1-8).
The Extraordinary visitation is opened exactly 5 years after the previous, held by Fr Americo Chaquisse, in 2016. God willing, from Malawi the Visitor will continue towards Zambia, Namibia and Zimbabwe with all the necessary precautions of the pandemic times. The schools in Malawi were just reopened after another 5-week period of closure.
The ZMB Vice Province has 14 Salesian communities (two of them not-yet canonical) in 4 countries, with 3 houses of formation (pre-novitiate, novitiate and postnovitiate) with some 116 Salesians (average age of 42) including 13 Salesian Brothers, one Salesian Bishop and 10 novices. Most of the works are parishes, with a growing number of schools with boarding houses and first works for the youth in need and youth at risk. Every year also a good number of missionary volunteers from other other continents are involved in the ZMB Salesian mission.