Testimony: Mons. Stanislas Lukumwena, ofm, Kole diocese, Congo

date: 13.10.2005.

Mons. Stanislas Lukumwena Lumbala, O.F.M., bishop of the diocese of Kole in the Democratic Republic of Congo, came for the second time on a private pilgrimage to Medjugorje in September 2005. He was ordained a priest in 1979, and a bishop in 1998. Mons. Lukumwena is the first black African who was a Franciscan Provincial in Congo, and the first black African ordained a bishop in Congo. He came alone to Medjugorje, for a few days of personal prayer and spiritual renewal. He spent long hours hearing confessions in French and in Italian. In the presbytery, he spoke with the Pastor and with other Franciscans serving in this parish, and he gave an interview for Radio "Mir" Medjugorje.

The diocese of Kole has 66.000 km2. It is in central Africa, in the equatorial forest, it is very poor and not easily accessible. On the pastoral level, it is structured by basic communities. It has 1500 catechists, and several elementary and secondary schools. Forty seminarians are studying theology, and 150 young people attend the little seminary. The vocations are numerous, but a decrease of vocations can be perceived in big cities. Africa is under the influence of the development that takes place in Europe; the model is to be like in Europe. Television and other media reproduce all that is happening in Europe, which leads to a loss of vocations. Christianity is being inculturated in Africa, which appears particularly in the liturgy that lasts two, three, four, even five hours. For them, this is normal, because they consider that it is necessary to take time for the Lord. The Marian devotion is also spreading, because it is not possible to separate Mary and Jesus. Certain places of prayer are Marian sites. In Africa, there are not enough churches, and people mostly pray outside.

This is what Mgr Stanislas Lukumwena said about Medjugorje:

"I came to Medjugorje to seek interior peace. A bishop in Africa is a builder; he is repairing the roads, constructing bridges, building schools. A bishop is doing everything, and there are moments when he really needs spiritual refreshment. This is why I came here, to withdraw for a few days, to pray together with the pilgrims.

What seems to me very good here is that I can hear confessions. Yesterday, I spent four hours in the confessional. In my diocese, I do not have often the occasion to hear confessions. It is splendid to see how many people come for confession here. I am very much attracted by this.

In recent times, the Church is insisting a great deal on the sacrament of the Eucharist and on the sacrament of reconciliation. Here, we find precisely these two fundamental sacraments. At the beginning, much was spoken about the apparitions, and now more and more about spirituality. A great spirituality is developing here. The message was given, the message of peace and conversion, and now it has to be lived. People like whatever is sensational. Whenever somebody speaks about messages and visionaries, people are running. Now, less and less is spoken about apparitions, and it is going increasingly into depth. People need a solid spiritual support. The interior life must be based on solid evangelic values. This is why I am saying that the deepening of the message, hence prayer, Eucharist and confession, are the basis for the deepening of the spiritual life of the person.

I speak about Medjugorje on a purely private basis. I am the bishop of another diocese, and I do not want to speak about things, which do not concern me. I am coming because of my personal devotion. We should not worry about the recognition. The recognition will surely come. Bishops are coming; they come to pray. There is something here, which attracts us, which impresses us. Little by little, Medjugorje will be recognized. Let each one live his devotion.

In the diocese of Kole, we are preparing the launching of a Radio station, which will be a new possibility to make Medjugorje better known."