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Tuesday, July 9, 2019
Inspirational Vocation Story of a Missionary Priest from Soccer to Seminary
Fr. Jean-Marie is from a Christian family. He is the fourth child in a family of seven children. He tells his inspirational vocation story here:
When I was a boy, I never dreamt of becoming a priest. I was telling my mom, dad and friends who that I would be either a medical doctor or a pilot. My dad used to work with Government and my Mom was a teacher. My studies at Jesuits Fathers secondary School ( Saint Francis Xavier in RDCongo) influenced a lot my vocation. We used to attend Mass everyday in school and attending Christian teachings. Since my mom was also a catechist, she used to tell me that she was praying and asking God to make at least one of her sons a priest.
I used to play soccer and I was a famous boy. One day, my mom shared with me a story of someone I knew who passed away. The guy was a rich man. He passed away by accident. Since he was not expecting his death, he did not prepare any official document or will. The family lost most of his properties due to lack of documents. He used to be partner of some other people who took advantage of his death to confiscate what they had in partnership. The passing on of that man left the family miserable. That story touched me and immediately my life changed. Some weeks later, I told my Mom that I was getting the desire to be a priest. She told me to share my intention with one of my Jesuit teachers. I found one and started sharing about my life. That was the beginning of my vocation to serve God. Being a Jesuit father's student, the priest tried his best to convince me join the Jesuit fathers society, but I did not have any attraction to them because of the delaying of ordaining priest. I wanted to be priest and not spending so much time for studies.
One day, we were playing soccer at school, the vocation director of the Consolata Missionaries, Fr. celestino Marandu (Tanzanian) joined us. In the end of the match, he started sharing with us about the Consolata Missionaries. I didn’t know that they were already two seminarians with the Consolata Missionaries from my home parish. I was interested in the charism of the Consolata Missionaries and when I finished my secondary school, the congregation asked me to join the seminary. That is what I can briefly tell you about my vocation. In a nutshell, as a priest prayer has been my source of strength and communion with God, especially adoration, rosary, reading and meditation the Word of God. God has always been Good to me! May His Name be praised and Glorified!
Father Jean- Marie Bilwala Kabesa is originally from the Democratic Republic of Congo, and was ordained a priest in July 2003, in Kinshasa. He is the Consolata development director in Montréal by way of Éthiopia, where he spent six years, from 2004 to 2010, as a missionary in the field in an arid region. He was a parish priest in Wonji in central Ethiopia, as well as projects coordinator in partnership with Catholic Relief Services (CRS). In this capacity he worked closely with local farmers, overseeing the drilling of wells, ensuring the financing of kindergartens and high schools, and supporting education for orphans and needy children. From 2011 to 2013, Jean- Marie trained further in communications with specialization in Media Studies, earning a Master’s degree from Daystar University in Nairobi, Kenya. For Father Jean-Marie, communication has always meant learning languages. He is fluent in English, French, Portuguese and Italian, in addition to four African languages; and he also gets by in German! In addition to his administrative responsibilities as director, Father Jean-Marie is also in charge of missionary awareness and vocation promotion. Before getting involved in his Missionary activities in Canada, Fr. Jean-Marie BILWALA joined Saint Paul University in Ottawa where he got a diploma in Intercultural formation. Besides, from 2015 to 2018 Father Jean-Marie served as the diocesan director of the Pontifical Missionary Societies (PMS) for the Archdiocese of Montréal. At the moment, he is pursuing a Master Degree in Health and Spirituality at the University of Montréal and following some conferences at Acton University, Michigan-Grand Rapids. Following the path of Jesus Christ and after reading several times Robert K. Greenleaf in his famous book: "SERVANT LEADERSHIP", Fr. Jean-Marie likes to be called a servant and not a Boss or Director. With his many tasks and activities – Missionary Days, Mass at the Consolata parish, fundraisers, campaigns, and articles in Consolata Missionaries Magazine – Fr. Jean-Marie finds Joy in serving others.