Zambia’s High Commissioner to Australia Frank Bwalya says he has decided to completely leave priesthood and marry.
And Bwalya says with his decision, it will not be appropriate for people to continue addressing him as “Father” as the title now completely falls off.
In an interview with News Diggers! Bwalya said his wedding is expected to take place before end of 2019 but after he finishes writing his Mass Communications and Public Relations examination at Cavendish University.
“[The wedding will happen] sometime before end of year, [but] after I write exams. My fiancé wants me to concentrate of studies as a student of Mass Communication and Public Relations with Cavendish. I had earlier written to my Bishop informing him that I won’t be going back to priesthood. So celibacy is just one of the priestly obligations that I was under and I am still under but the process is underway and I hope that everything will go well. I later made an announcement, I think I even made a Facebook post on my wall but not under the current account, I can’t exactly remember the date but I need to counter-check that, where I did mention that I won’t be going back to the priesthood. And at that time I remember a lot of people on Facebook were saying ‘you should just marry’ but everything has got time. It wasn’t my intention to rush into marriage but I think that ichakwikalila ubushimbe apa nomba tapali. Ele ukwikala ifi kuti watena (it’s no longer time to remain a bachelor because remaining like this can cause you to sin),” Bwalya said.
Bwalya said he also wrote to the church to inform them about the decision.
“People who are close to me, my mother and other relatives think that it is time for me to move on. So they support my decision and I am confident that I have their prayers and their support throughout. It was in 2015 when I made that announcement [that I want to stop priesthood] and I wrote accordingly to the authorities notifying them. And remember that by that time, I had been away from the priesthood for something like eight years, because this year its ten years since I left the pulpit. I loved priesthood. I went to the seminary for a long time to prepare to train to be a priest. I still love priesthood, I love my church, I love priests [and] I envy them. I think that they make a very big sacrifice to serve the people of God. I’m just in love with them, I love the father who is at this time moving the church to the right direction with the changing times,” he said.
“Many people know that I am very close to catholic sisters and they have been praying for me. I did consult them about this decision. They want my happiness and I want my happiness. I think God also wants my happiness. I will forever be indebted to my church. I am who I am because of the vocation that I followed and the education. And I want to believe that everything that makes me a good human being, I owe it to the catholic church. Therefore, come what may, I will remain a devout catholic. I may not be able to go to communion depending on what transpires between now and when we tie the note [but] that doesn’t worry me because I know that the church has a very human heart and doesn’t through away people.”
Bwalya said he did not want to do anything that would compromise his faith.
“I don’t want to handle this matter in a manner that may create the impression that priesthood is something that you can get into and then come out and do other things. Of course unfortunately this is what has happened in my case. The priesthood is called Holly Orders. It is special to our church. But these things do happen and I don’t think with the revelation that we have today, I should feel eternally dumbed for the decision that I have taken. God is all merciful, He is all forgiving, he loves his children and I want to believe that he loves me and this is why I wouldn’t want to do anything that compromises my faith,” Bwalya said.
Asked what inspired him to decide to marry, Bwalya said he was just human.
“What inspired this decision is the fact that I am human. Companionship is something that is very important in human life, belonging, being loved and caring for other people. And since I made a decision that I am not going back to priesthood, it became inevitable that I will consider marriage because why staying alone when previously it was because the decision to leave the priesthood had not been made and later on certain things needed to be done. But now that it has become clear that I am not going back to the priesthood, inevitably I needed to consider this and I took the decision. I want to believe that God will bless us and make us happy. And being 50 [years old] I want to believe that what remains of my life may be less than what I have already had. I am indebted to the good people to the world, those that I have touched and those that have touched me. I want to believe that I have had my fair share of happiness and I am not perfect. And maybe when I was in politics, that imperfection showed more,” he said.
And Bwalya said the fatherly title falls off but added that priestly ordination is something that can never be revoked.
“I don’t hold the title but I hold the essence because priestly ordination is not revoked. You are ordained priest forever. The title may be abandoned because it may not be convenient but the essence of priesthood [and] the essence of sacrament remains. It’s never withdrawn especially in a case where there are no reasons to go to such an extreme. I think that it would be appropriate to call me “Mr” so that people are not misled to think that I am a married priest. But I want to believe that it will be very difficult for people to abandon that title because for them it has actually become a name. And I don’t think I will be moving around with a stick trying to threaten everyone who calls me father. But I want to believe that it will completely fall away,” said Bwalya.