Zomba (Fides Service) – Malawi will soon have its first Convent of enclosed nuns, Discalced Carmelites. The official inauguration of a Carmelite church and convent at Zomba will take place on 15 October, feast of Saint Teresa of Avila, Carmelite nun and Doctor of the Church. Work on the complex is almost completed. A group of seven Carmelite nuns from convents in Owerri, in Nigeria, Nairobi and Tindinyo in Kenya moved into the convent in March this year..
The first Discalced Carmelite men arrived in Malawi in 1966, coming from Navarra in Spain. Today they have four houses and many vocations and the present Provincial Delegate is a Malawian. For a long time the Religious, and more recently also the Bishop of Zomba, hoped to have a convent of their Sisters in Malawi to support their activity with incessant prayer and in 1997 preparations began. Thanks to efforts made by the Association of English-speaking Africa on 24 May 2003 a decree was signed giving canonical sanction to the opening of Zomba Convent in Zomba diocese.
Sister Benedict, who as president of the Association of English-speaking Africa worked tirelessly to make it possible to have a Convent of enclosed nuns in Malawi, tells of the warm welcome given to the Carmelite Sisters: “The Bishop made every effort to tell people about the new Convent, encouraging people to help the nuns. The nuns were welcomed during a concelebration of the Eucharist, enriched by various elements of inculturation with hours of rejoicing and dancing. The Mass was concelebrated by five of Malawi’s seven bishops, the Nuncio and 75 priests.
Zomba diocese was created in 1959. It has an area of 3,232 sq. km., and a population of 672,114 of whom 219,455 are Catholics gathered in 15 parishes and assisted by 32 diocesan priests, 8 religious priests and 55 women religious, plus the seven Carmelites. In Malawi Christians are 62% of the population: (Catholics 28% other Christians 34%), followed by traditional beliefs 21% and Islam 16%. SL (Fides Service 10/7/2003 EM lines 25 Words: 340)