The Comboni Missionaries always had a certain appeal to Andrew Bwalya.
When he was a young boy growing up in Zambia, the Comboni Missionaries came to his village to care for the local parish. What surprised him, though, was that these missionary priests actually lived in the village with the people. They ate with the people. They learned the local language.
Other religious orders had served in the parish, but this was the first time the priests actually lived among the people. Of course! That is what Comboni Missionaries do. That is what their founder, St. Daniel Comboni, did.
Fr. Andrew, 39, was ordained July 12, 2008. He was inspired not only by the Comboni Missionaries who lived in his village, but also by the life of St. Daniel Comboni.
“St. Daniel came to Africa during a difficult time (1870’s). The church in Europe had given up on Africa because the people they sent kept dying. Daniel would not be deterred. He recognized God in the people of Africa and challenged people to go there. I could be the fulfillment of Comboni’s dream,” Fr. Andrew said.
For the first five years of his mission Fr. Andrew worked in South Africa as assistant pastor at St. Daniel Comboni Parish in Mamelodi, Pretoria. During this time, he obtained a Bachelors’ degree in Communication Science at the University of South Africa and Honors degree in Journalism at the University of Pretoria.
In 2014 Fr. Andrew took over as director of New People Media Centre based in Nairobi, Kenya. The Centre is owned by nine Comboni English speaking provinces of Africa. In addition to being the Centre’s director, Fr. Andrew is also editor of New People, a Comboni missionary magazine.
And if that weren’t enough, this fall he is pursuing a Masters in Communication.
His passion for journalism began when Andrew was a young man. His father was a teacher and loved to read the newspapers, prompting Andrew’s interest in the news. Then in high school and seminary he was encouraged to develop his interest in journalism further. He hopes to expand the New People Media Centre beyond print journalism and into formats such as radio programs and videos.
Fr. Andrew is in good company with his passion for evangelization through journalism. St. Daniel Comboni recognized the importance of good communication and established the magazine Nigrizia, which is still in publication today.
This year the Comboni Missionaries celebrate 150 years as an institute. Fr. Andrew sees this as a time for reflection, and to look to the future. St. Daniel’s dream was “to save Africa through Africa.” Much of his dream is realized today as vocations continue to increase in Africa. Today, most parishes throughout Africa are served by African priests and bishops.
For Fr. Andrew the way forward includes more collaboration with lay people and other congregations. He also sees the mission expanding into more Justice & Peace work – to develop the person and advocate for human rights. Some of this work is already being done through our affiliation with VIVAT International and the UN.
This past summer, Fr. Andrew traveled the United States promoting the work of the Comboni Missionaries, and sharing the importance of mission throughout the world. He recently returned to Nairobi, Kenya to continue his work at New People Media.
Thank you Fr. Andrew for your dedication and hard work! May God Bless your endeavors.