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Reverend Father Petro Mzokomera

Home  /  Mtunthama people  /  Reverend Father Petro Mzokomera

In which area were you born? Tell us a bit about your upbringing and early life.

Kasamba area. The traditional authority is the Malinga Chanzi, in Nkhotkhota district. Born in 1973 in a family of nine children. My mother is still alive but is very old by this hour. She is in her late 70s. I am eighth born, if my parents had stopped at three I wouldn’t be here! I did my primary education in Kasamba primary and my secondary education at Chipoka secondary school in Salima district, which is a boarding school. By the time I was completing my primary school my mother was not with my father, their marriage broke away. I was first staying with my father but I chose to live with my mother, who without help from my father paid for my primary and secondary education. She is a farmer. I was her first child to go to secondary school. My elder brother was assisting her on the farm; I would also go to the farm from primary school. My eldest brothers and sisters were already married by now. My mother was also a potter with her hands and she was selling the pots and crops to pay for school fees.

What about your early career?

As I was in my fourth year of secondary school, the day I was writing my last exam I went for an interview for a company who did photography and export/import. I was taken as a field photographer, went home to leave my books and straight back to Salima for work. I worked for three months but without pay. Everybody who was recruited was not paid and suddenly we heard on the radio that the company had ended so I went back home. There I applied for priesthood and I was taken by the diocese. I did not go to theological college but did my study by extension. My tutor was Reverend Father Rodney Square Hunter, who was British and working as a priest in my parish,

In the time I was applying for the priesthood is the time I married my wife Esther in Nkhotkhota in 1997. I was running my marriage as well as studying with my tutor thrice a week from 1997 to 2000. Because my tutor fell sick I studied for five years instead of four. I was ordained as a deacon in 2000 by Rt. Reverend Bishop Peter Nyanja in All Saints Cathedral in Nkhotakhota, where I then served as a deacon. I was ordained as a priest in 2001 by the same bishop in the same cathedral. After I was ordained as a priest I transferred to Chombo parish, about 8km north of Nkhotakhota. I stayed there for about 5-6 years. It was a very big parish, around 4000 Christians. I experienced my first interaction with people from abroad through World Relief Malawi.

I was transferred to Lilongwe in 2006. By that time, the Bishop was deceased and the Vicar General transferred me to Lilongwe City East. It was very different. I was used to dealing with local people in typical villages, often with lower education. Now I was dealing with people in the town who were highly educated. This was the first time I had to live and work in the city; I had to struggle but coped with town life within a few months. I had to learn the lifestyle to understand the people and how to minister them. I swapped with Father Frank Dzantenge here in 2011, and have been here for six months so far.

Tell us a bit about your family

I married in 2007 to Esther. We come from the same area. We have four children, the first three are boys and the last one is a girl called Takondwa meaning Rejoice, who is a year and nine months. The boys are 12, 9 and 3 years old, the first two are at primary school and the third one is at nursery.

What do you do in your spare time with your family?

We like listening to gospel music and chatting. Sometimes reading the word of God with them.

Can you tell me about what your normal working day involves?

At Chombo parish I was just a parish priest, but since I am Archdeacon. This is a person who looks after other parishes on behalf of the Bishop. The diocese is divided into different stations. Mtunthama parish is made up of 26 stations, I have to visit each prayer house and they look at me as their priest. I also look after Kasungu Archdeaconry, under which there are seven parishes including Mtunthama. I look at primary and secondary schools within the archdeaconry and all church developments within the archdeaconry.

If there are any misunderstandings between priests and organisations I help to settle them and I come together with other priests to discuss any issues. I am also involved in producing reports and assessing the parishes. I write reports on them every three months.

At parish level, I carry out pastoral work. There are station developments as well as those at parish level. I chair parish meetings, train people such as church orders and other departments. On March 20-24 this year I am running catechumen teachers training, training the teachers who will teach people joining the church.  I also lead the services, baptisms, and assess the catechumen.

How are you involved in the local community?

People come to me. I also happen to be a counsellor. For example, today I had a boy who came to me with his problems. I also visit the sick, and some others come to me to seek advice. Every Wednesday I go to the hospital and after the hospital mass I visit each bed to give some encouragement.

What would be the biggest things to help you do your job better?

I’m looking at two areas. The first one, because I am using my motorbike which is unsafe and limits us as I wish to move with other people. The archdeaconry itself is very big. You cannot go by motorbike and by the time you come back you are very tired. For example, today I went 40-50km and came back tired, meaning I cannot assist people effectively. It is a big challenge. I need transport.

Secondly, the community needs more counselling for conflicts, bereavement, marriage conflicts; not just HIV. I am a counsellor but only attended one week training. I wanted to further my education and train further in counselling to help the community. At the orphanage we have orphans who have gone through several hardships. They need more counselling so that they can be free in their minds. They go through loss; they need someone who can assist them psychologically.

Do you have a favourite place in Malawi?

I like home. I go back and visit my parents and relatives.

What do you enjoy most about your career?

My favourite part in the ministry is counselling, especially marriage counselling. Because it is from marriage where children grow – if a husband and wife are living in harmony the children are well. If marriage is strong then the church is strong. We cannot expect to have good citizens from quarrelling family. Spiritually, the relationship between a husband and a wife preaches the relationship between Christ and the Church, if their relationship is sour this means the relationship between Christ and the Church is sour.

I like my calling. I like my ministry. Working for three months without pay; it was God telling me it was not the job for me. Priesthood, I only applied once and was taken the same year. I believe this was God calling me.