Vice President, Dr. Saulos Chilima, and former president, Dr. Bakili Muluzi, on Wednesday joined thousands of Catholic and non-Catholic faithful in mourning Reverend Father Andrew Nkhata in Mangochi.
The multitude thronged St. Augustine Cathedral to pay their last respects to Reverend Father Nkhata, Vicar General of the Mangochi Diocese, who died on Monday in a car accident.
Looking heartbroken, Chilima and Muluzi, moved with the procession and took their turns to view the remains of the departed priest before the Holly Mass was conducted.
In his eulogy, Bishop Montfort Sitima, of the Dioceses of Mangochi described Reverend Father Nkhata as one good priest the Church will miss owing to his good deeds to the congregation and the general public.
"Father Andrew Nkhata was a very unique person: He was quiet, always with little words but full of wisdom. He was hard working, tolerant and ever jovial. We will really miss his presence and services of good will," he highlighted.
The Bishop said as his advisor, the Vicar General was very honest in his advisory role and that he could not advise the Bishop just to appease him.
Sitima appealed to the Church's priests and the church members to help him in prayers for a better replacement of Father Nkhata as Vicar General.
In his remarks, the Vice President hailed the life of Father Nkhata challenging the gathering to emulate his good deeds in order to leave a good legacy when they depart from earth.
"The only two days that matter in one's life are the day one is born and the day one dies. Whatever happens in-between the two days is the history one makes. Let's deepen our love for one another and let's continue to serve each other, putting God first in all our endeavors," said Chilima.
The Vice President also urged people to always make use of the leaders in their midst while they (leaders) are still alive saying Father Nkhata's legacy of good deeds would go a long way in shaping the society if emulated.
The funeral ceremony of Father Nkhata started on Tuesday afternoon when his body was taken from Mangochi District Hospital Mortuary to Maldeco-Koche Parish for a Holly Mass before proceeding to St. Augustine Cathedral for another Holly Mass later in the evening.
The ceremony continued on Wednesday with another Holly Mass and speeches before the Vice President, Chilima led the procession to the Vicar General's final resting place at St. Paul's Minor Seminary Cemetery.
At exactly 13:00 pm the coffin carrying the body of Father Nkhata rested on the bottom of his final resting place and at exactly 13:30 pm, the Veep laid his wreath on the grave.
According to a statement by the Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM), Reverend Father Andrew Nkhata was born on September 22 in 1970 at Chakachadza Village in Traditional Authority (TA) Pemba in Dedza.
He went to Bwanje Primary School and St. Paul the Apostle Minor Seminary in Mangochi Diocese before joining Kachebere Major Seminary where he studied Philosophy.
Late Reverend Father Nkhata later studied Theology at St Peters Major Seminary in Zomba from 1994 - 1998 before he was ordained as a deacon and later as a priest on 17 January and 7 July, 1998, respectively.
He later went to Rome to do Licentiate in Moral Theology, according to the ECM statement.
Reverend Father Nkhata served as a priest in various institutions and parishes including St. John the Baptist Major Seminary and Holly Cross Preparatory Seminary, and in 2007 he was appointed Vicar General of the Diocese of Mangochi.
From 2009 until his demise, Reverend Father, Andrew Nkhata was serving as Parish Priest of Koche-Maldeco Parish.