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Brother Pius Musilizo

Brother Pius Musilizo, O.M.I.

At Peace with the People
Brother Pius Chibwe Musilizo, O.M.I.

Pius Chibwe Musilizo was born in Lusaka, the capital of Zambia, in 1983.  He is one of seven children: six boys and one girl.  “My sister is the love of everyone in my family,” he said of his only sister.  “I grew up with my mother who struggled day and night to raise us and put food on our table.  She is a source of inspiration in my family.  She is the real African mother.”

Pius came to know the Oblates through his home parish, Good Shepherd in Kabwata, a town near Lusaka.  “The pre-novices used to come and do pastoral ministry at my parish and some of them taught me catechism,” he recalled.  “They invited me to their formation house, which is a ten-minute walk from my house.”

That short ten-minute walk hardly prepared Pius for the journey on which he was about to embark.

Pius began his Oblate career by journeying to the United States for novitiate.  “For whatever reason, a lot of people still call me American,” Pius pondered.  “In America I did pastoral ministry at a hospital, where I acquired a lot of experience.  I also did an internship at the Oblates’ King’s House Retreat Center and the National Shrine of Our Lady of Snows.”

From America Pius traveled back to Zambia for four months, where he was assigned to an Oblate community in Lukulu – Sancta Maria Parish in the Western Province.  “In Lukulu I worked with the youth and I was also responsible for buying food in the house,” he said.

Pius left Lukulu to spend three years at St. Joseph’s Theological Institute in South Africa, where he studied philosophy.  “In South Africa I worked with an AIDS action group, and I was elected president during my last two years there,” he said.  “Working with this group made me a very responsible young man.  As a group, we used to go around to high schools in South Africa giving workshops to pupils about the dangers of HIV\AIDS in Africa.  I was the one in charge of organizing these workshops.”

After completing his studies in South Africa Pius was sent back to Zambia to begin his regency, a one-year internship at an Oblate community in Shangombo.  “Shangombo is one of the poorest places in Zambia,” he said.  “It is only missionaries who can manage to work in difficult missions like this.  Whilst in Shangombo I learned a lot about parish work and I also started teaching English at a local school.”

As his internship came to an end, Pius was surprised by a request made by the then Zambia Delegation Superior Bp. Evans Chinyemba, O.M.I.  “He asked me if I could go to Germany for my theological studies.  I said, ‘Yes I can!’” Pius said.  “My reaction was a bit mixed.  I was excited that I was going to start my theological studies after three years of philosophy; on the other hand I was afraid of the language.  My fears were realized.  It turned out that German was a very difficult language which I continue to struggle with, even though I can now write and speak it.”

Pius studied the language in Bonn, Germany for eight months before moving to Hünfeld, where he has been for three years.  “I am growing stronger every day, just like my name ‘Chibwe’ (“strong rock” in the Bemba dialect),” he said.  It took me a year to learn the language and start attending lectures.  But to be honest, during the first semester I did not understand anything.  I nearly gave up,” he admitted.  “But again I received a lot of encouragement from people back home in Zambia and I managed to pull up.  Now I do all of my theological exams in German and I have passed all of them.  So I think I am doing pretty fine.  I love this language.”

He has also found happiness in his newfound community:  “I spend a lot of time in my community in Hünfeld, Hessen.  I am an Oblate and it is my obligation to spend a lot of time in my community.  In the community we pray and eat together.  That is very typical of an Oblate community.”

Pius was ordained to the diaconate on May 10, 2014 at the Cathedral of Fulda in Germany.  “What struck me the most about the liturgy was its strongly ecclesial dimension,” he said.  “The fact that we were nine companions, coming from different places and backgrounds, portrayed very powerfully the international dimension of our mission as a Church.  I would have loved to hear some African ululations, drums, laughter … but again I am a missionary, sent out in the world to learn new cultures and be at peace with the people.”

Pius will remain in Germany to study until July 2015, when he will return to Zambia to “continue doing the work which the Lord has begun.”

“I hope to be available to the mission of God,” he said.  “Just like St. Paul, I want to move around the world preaching the Word of God.  For me God is love.  Love knows no race, rich or poor.  I want to do this not alone but with the brothers I will be living with in community.  I also want to respect peoples’ cultures wherever I will be sent.”