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03.11.2020 17:30:52 177x read.
MALAWI
“Here I am Lord I Have Come to do Your Will” ( Psalm 40: 7, 8) Bro. Mike Mbato FIC

“Here I am Lord I Have Come to do Your Will”  ( Psalm 40: 7, 8)

Bro. Mike Mbato FIC.

 

Family background

I was born on 15th March 1993. As the last- born son in a family of two boys, I was brought up by mother’s elder sister because I lost my mother when I was 5 year old. A few years later, I also lost my father. I am from Kadikira village, Blantyre district, in southern Malawi. My aunt’s husband whom I grew up with, is humble, friendly, easygoing, active and loving. He supported my education and wellbeing without complaints. As dedicated Catholics my parents encouraged us to attend church activities and remain faithful to our church responsibilities. My brother and I were mass servers and my mother a choir member.

My education

I started my primary education in the year 2000 at Chikuli Primary School and later continued at Lirangwe where my aunt was living. After elementary school,  I was selected for secondary school in 2009 and completed in the year 2012. Thereafter I proceeded to do the  teacher training course at Blantyre Teachers Training College (BTTC) in the year 2013 where I graduated in the year 2015 with T2 certificate. I started my initial formation program at Mzedi Formation House in October 2015. I took my first vows on 21 November 2018. Then the Provincial Council appointed me to teach at Nguludi Girls Primary School. Currently I am studying Special Needs Education (diploma level) at the Catholic University of Malawi.

 

My vocation story.

The genesis of my vocation journey is my friend Harry Matuta, then a candidate to the Comboni missionaries (now a deacon), who used to share with me some very interesting stories about their formation. It was through this friend of mine that I developed great interest, first for the priesthood, for I had no idea about the FIC Brothers or religious life in general. In general, most of us thought that religious life was a stage to the priesthood. It was only after attending the "Come and See Sessions" of the Comboni Missionaries, that it became clear to me that religious life is a completely different vocation from that of priesthood .

During my encounter with the Comboni Missionaries, I had the opportunity to visit their technical schools where most their brothers were working. Through my interaction with one of them I became more aware of the different vocations in the Church, and especially the vocation to religious life. From this time I began exploring more about brotherhood rather than priesthood. This time one of the Comboni priests (Fr. Jean Marie) explained to me how different brotherhood is from priesthood. He later introduced to me the different congregations of Brothers, although he did not mention FIC Brothers. He encouraged me to attend the "Come and See Session" of St. John of God Brothers so as to gain in-depth knowledge of the various congregations in the church and especially lay religious congregations.

I came to know the FIC Brothers much later from the FIC calendar of 2014. This calendar displayed photographs of Brothers at their places of  apostolate. I was very much touched by their work and spontaneously became interested in their way of life. I got the contacts from the calendar and later communicated with the then Bro. Peter Nthulula.  In December 2014, I was called to attend my first "Come and See Session" of the FIC Brothers. It was an interesting moment to be given the opportunity to have this encounter because I was looking forward to it.

My formation period

My formation journey started in October 2015 at Mzedi Formation House. I did not expect to be called at that particular time because my colleague-postulants had already started the program two months earlier. Five of us started the journey this year and tried to be brothers of each other despite our differences.

Time went quickly, and on 8th September 2016 the discernment process entered another stage. I was accepted to start my canonical novitiate which is a year of deep reflection on the way of life I had opted for. Towards the end of the canonical novitiate in 2017, government released the names of student teachers who had completed their teacher training in the year 2015, and the results indicated that I was appointed to teach at Lirangwe Primary School. This meant I had to report to my station to start teaching, but the fact that I was still doing my novitiate program was an indication of a conflict. This was a time of confusion as I became unstable in my mind.

After long discussion with my novice master he agreed that I first report to the Education Managers’ office in order to secure my teaching job. Later the Provincial Council allowed me to report at Lirangwe Primary School and teach for some time before I could request for a transfer to Demonstration Primary School which is closer to the formation community.

 After the canonical year I was required to have a practical community experience, while maintaining my job as a teacher. Arrangements were made with a parish priest to stay in his parish and teach at Lirangwe. On 18th September 2017, I left Mitengo community for Lirangwe. I was staying with two priests namely Fr. James Kasitomu and Fr. Oscar. My stay there was very motivating because I was already familiar with people and the environment there.

My Apostolate

In November 2017, I went on transfer to Maryview community. For my teaching job, I also had to process a transfer to Nguludi Girls Primary School.

 Doing apostolate at Nguludi Girls is a wonderful experience, since I enjoy my work there partly due to the cordial relationship that is existing between the administration and members of staff. Learners at this school are also very active in terms of school work. If I assign them work they do it to their best of knowledge. At first it was something hard for me to teach only girls, but I soon got used to them, and now I enjoy teaching. What does it mean to be a Brother FIC in this school? It is important that I become a true brother to everybody: teachers, learners and other staff members. At the same time I have to demonstrate that I am sent there "to continue the work of Jesus, who went round doing good, who was a witness to the truth, who came to serve, and who brought the liberating message of the Kingdom of God as a message of love" (Const. article 15). I have to allow myself to be challenged every day, to remain always on the path of service. It is not really easy doing this amidst the daily human limitations. In realizing this, I see the need to rely on a power that is greater than me. I have to rely on the power of God through prayer, and more to the point, our beloved Mother Mary, patroness of our congregation, to continuously intercede for me in my daily struggles that I may remain committed to the ideals of the congregation.

Conclusion

My gratitude goes to the Provincial Council for giving me the opportunity to study at the Catholic University of Malawi. This has opened me up to new experiences, for instance improvement in my reasoning capacity. However, it is quite challenging  to be a full time teacher, a student and a community member at the same time. Despite all these challenging responsibilities I hope to be able to balance my life around these three vital areas as this will, I believe, shape me adequately for a solid life of an FIC Brother.  I do hope that with God’s help I will find fulfillment in spite of the challenges.

Bro. Mike Mbato FIC – Malawi province

 








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