23 January 2019

Rwanda: Archbishop Kambanda to Be Installed Sunday

The newly appointed Archbishop of Kigali, Antoine Kambanda, will be installed on Sunday in Kigali.

The occupant of this office is the titular head of the Roman Catholic Church in Rwanda.

Kambanda who, was until November last year, the Bishop of Kibungo Diocese, was appointed by Pope Francis, replacing Thadée Ntihinyurwa.

Ntihinyurwa, who has led the Church in Rwanda since the immediate aftermath of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, retired at 76.

Kambanda will oversee about 10 dioceses spread across the country.

Speaking to The New Times in an exclusive interview, Father Innocent Consolateur, the special envoy of the incoming Archbishop, said preparations were in high gear for the biggest event the Rwandan Catholic church has seen in over two decades.

"It will be marked by a mass that will bring together thousands of congregants and the handover ceremony between the outgoing and incoming archbishops," said Consolateur in a phone interview on Tuesday.

He added that Christians from all the parishes within Kigali as well as friends from all over the country and beyond are expected to grace the event to be held at Amahoro National Stadium.

Consolateur said that the incoming Archbishop has already identified his top priorities, including focusing on the family unit that starts from the child to the parents to the community and the nation.

"This is because he (Kambanda) believes that when there are good families, there are also good communities, hence a good nation with good people who uphold Christian values," he said.

A priest for 28 years, Kambanda has served as Bishop for over five years.

Kambanda is credited with having sowed good seeds through the gospel and his dedication to transform people wherever he served.

"He is particularly known for having groomed many priests at the Major Seminary of Nyakibanda (in Huye District) and when he was transferred to head Kibungo Diocese, he managed to expand the Church through construction of new parishes while he constructed a new church for the diocese," Consolateur said.

In a recent interview, Kambanda said he was humbled by the opportunity to serve and for the trust the Holy See had put in him.

"It is a huge responsibility, that's why I request for prayers from all so my life and service can be in the hands of God," he said in November last year a few days following his appointment.

"My goal is that all may have life in abundance," he said, drawing inspiration from the gospel of John. "That's the main objective of my evangelistic work."

He added: "I want evangelism which responds to the various problems that the world faces today."

In particular, Kambanda will head the Archdiocese of Kigali.

His predecessor, Ntihinyurwa, has been bishop for 36 years.

The new archbishop also emphasised the need for lasting marriages, decrying growing cases of divorce, which he said mainly victimises children.

"Divorce has adverse effects on children because they are the most vulnerable in the family," he told this newspaper.

Who is Kambanda?

Kambanda was born on November 10, 1958 in Nyamata under the Archdiocese of Kigali.

Soon after, his family moved to Kenya, where he was brought up and attended elementary and high school.

Later, he returned to Rwanda and attended the Junior Seminary in Rutongo, Kigali (1983-1984) and the Saint Charles Borromeo Major Seminary of Nyakibanda in Huye District from 1984-1990.

On September 8, 1990, Kambanda was those ordained in Kigali by the then Pope John Paul II.

On February 10, 2006, he was appointed Rector of Saint Charles Borromeo Major Seminary of Nyakibanda.

Prior to this, he held several other responsibilities, including serving as director of the development committee of the Diocese of Kigali; head of the justice and peace commission at the same diocese, and Professor of Moral Theology as a visiting lecturer at Nyakibanda Major Seminary.

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