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Population: 17,964,697
Percent Below Poverty Line: 53%

Malawi is a landlocked country in central Africa with about 18 million people, 85% of which live in rural areas. The Catholic Diocese of Karonga located in Northern Malawi was founded on July 20, 2010 by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI in order to address the growing Catholic population in the area. Of the 500,000 people located in the Diocese of Karonga 14%, which is about 65,000 people, are Catholic. The diocese has 15 priests serving almost 4,500 people each.

Explore the tabs below to learn more about the project in Malawi.

Training Pastoral Agents


The Mission of Karonga

The Diocese of Karonga was recently established in Malawi, Central East Africa. It covers 4,633 square miles. Currently, it has seven parishes, and 15 priests who serve 308 miles each, by car that’s a six hour car ride over mountainous unpaved road, by foot it’s a twenty day walk to get from one side of their parish to the other.

With only 15 priests to serve the entire diocese, the diocese cannot open more parishes to lessen the distances within parishes and between. In order to ease the challenges of the pastoral presence of the priests parishes are divided into Outstations which are run by lay leaders.

With the support of Catholic World Mission and our donors, the Diocese of Karonga is engaging in socio-economic uplift of the lives of the people they serve. We believe that it is not enough to preach the Gospel without attending to their socio-economic needs. In underdeveloped places in Malawi over 60% of the people live on less than a dollar per day! It’s common for food shortages to occur in the winter months, and for floods to damage crops in the summer. The program is in line with the Council of Fathers of the Second Vatican Council says, “The joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the men of this age, especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted, these are the joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties of the followers of Christ.” (Gaudium et Spes, No. 1) This program aims to strengthen the capacity of pastoral agents in order to have efficient and effective collaboration in their pastoral activities while helping them address their socioeconomic needs.

Training Lay Leaders

Pastoral Laity

The lay leaders carry out the Sunday Liturgy by reading the readings and having a communion service when the priests are not available, give instructions to catechumens, prepare children for First Communion, and the Sacrament of Confirmation and also visit the sick and elderly. The lay leaders work collaboratively with catechists and priests, but have not been formally trained until now.

Previously the lay leaders have never received formal catechesis to know the Catholic faith on more than the surface level. Formal training allows the lay leaders to prepare catechists and catechumens for the sacraments with confidence. They are captivated by the love of Jesus Christ, and want to learn how to responsibly share the faith without interpreting it through cultural norms of witch craft and traditional African religions.

“This training has been relevant. As Christians we are mandated to participate in the mission and life of the Church. It is very important to work as a team.” Michael Kayange, participant from St. Matthias

Most of the lay leaders in the Diocese of Karonga are converts from other Christian denominations and traditional religions, and they do not really know how the Catholic Church functions. Of the 30 participants of the training session at St. Michael’s Parish, 21 were converts from other Christian Churches; representing about 70% of the participants. One of the cultural practices in Malawi is called Kupiumbira, it allows a family’s debt to be repaid by giving one of their daughters in marriage. This is contrary to Gospel teachings and a violation of the girls’ rights and choice for marriage.

That is why the training of lay leaders is of great importance. Not only are Gospel values instilled, but lay people  gain confidence as they have acquired skills in Christian leadership and knowledge in the Catholic faith. The training session has empowered them to carry out effectively and efficiently their pastoral ministries in collaboration with their parish priest.

St. Ignatius of Loyola

St. Ignatius of Loyola Training Session

In December of 2015, St. Ignatius of Loyola, a parish in the Diocese of Karonga, Malawi held Catechumen and Evangelization Training Sessions. Fr. John Moyo serves the community there. For three days 29 lay people met to learn how to carry out their leadership role in the Catholic Church. Of the 29 lay people 13 are converts to the Catholic faith. They shared they received catechesis as they were preparing for Baptism, but this was not enough to live out their Catholic faith or share it with others.

The participants shared the training sessions helped them to gain confidence as they have acquired skills in Christian leadership and knowledge of the Catholic Faith. They feel empowered to effectively and efficiently carry out their pastoral ministries in collaboration with their parish priests.

St. Matthias'

What Do the Participants from St. Matthias say?

“The training session is helpful to me because it will assist me to serve better as a catechist. It will help me to live a better Christian life and hence help me to my ministry of evangelization.” – Laurent Msukwa, Catechist of Sebe Pastoral Zone of St. Matthias Parish

“I have been touched by the importance of deepening my faith so that I can lead a better life, and it is this faith that can help me to be a good Catholic and therefore, to serve better as a Catechist.  This will help my Pastoral Zone to grow in Christian life.”- Isaac Kayange, Catechist for Menge Pastoral Zone

“I have learnt something about Christian leadership. I have also been touched by the importance of deepening my faith.  It is this faith that would help me to encourage my fellow Christians and to participate in the life and mission of the Church.” – Collina Kuyokwa, Vice Secretary of Sanga Outstation of St. Matthias Parish

“I feel my faith has been renewed. What I have learned here I will also share with others.” – Anne Pwele, Treasurer of the Parish Pastoral Council of St. Matthias Parish

“I feel empowered to evangelize. My knowledge about the Catholic Church has increased.  This will also help my family and my children. With what I have learnt, I can assist others to understand better our Catholic faith.” – Juliana Masebo is the Secretary of Sebe Outstation 

“This training has been relevant. As Christian we are mandated to participate in the mission and life of the Church. It is very important to work as a team.” – Michael Kayange, Chairperson of the Parish Liturgical Committee

“This session has been very fruitful because it touched much on the importance of deepening our faith as agents of evangelization.  It is only with sound faith that I can share with others and participate in the mission of the Church. This session has revived in me the spirit of participating actively in evangelization.” – Solomon Silumbu, Chairperson of Bukanga Outstation of St. Matthias Parish

“This training session is good.  We need to be having such sessions two or three times in a year.  They will help us to be good Christian leaders and agents of evangelization. This session will assist me to lead well my Outstation and to revive the spirit of Christians in my outstation. I have also been touched by the importance of working as a team in building up the Church which is the Body of Christ.” – Gabriel Mbughi, Chairperson of Nyungu Outstation in St. Matthias Parish

See more photos from St. Matthias below:
St. Michael's

St. Michael’s Training Session

St. Michael’s Parish is the largest parish in the Diocese of Karonga. It has 12,252 baptized Catholics, and 1,389 Catechumens. The parish is divided into five pastoral zones, but only has two priests to serve them! This is why it is so important that the laity are trained to collaborate with the priests to teach the catechism, and prepare members for their sacraments.

Like in other parishes of the Diocese of Karonga, most of the lay leaders in St. Michael’s Parish are converts from other Christian denominations and traditional religions, and they do not really know how the Catholic Church functions. Of the 30 participants of the training session at St. Michael’s Parish, 21 were converts from other Christian Churches; representing about 70% of the participants. That is why the training of lay leaders is of great importance for them to gain confidence as they have acquired skills in Christian leadership and knowledge in the Catholic faith.

What Do Participants from St. Michael Say?

“The finance council should always involve the whole Church in planning its activities.” – Judith Makondetsa, Secretary of the Parish Finance Council

“With this training I will be able to involve the laity in all activities in my Pastoral Zone.” – Yohane Kawonga, Catechist of Kaseye Pastoral Zone

“This training session is fruitful and relevant. It is an eye-opener; there were so many things which I overlooked.  The knowledge I have gained will assist me greatly in ministry.” – Rhoda Chiwowa, Catechetical Advisor for St. Michael’s Parish

“This training is very beneficial to me as it has empowered me to evangelize.” – Francis Msukwa, Chairperson of Iband LCC

“I have learnt about the importance of having an action plan.” – Gerlad Mugala, Chairperson of the Finance Council of Kameme LCC

“The training has rejuvenated in me the spirit of playing an active role in the evangelization mission of the Church.” – Anastazia Mwanja, representing the Legion of Mary 

See more photos from the training session at St. Michael’s below:

St. Joseph the Worker

St. Joseph the Worker Training Session

From January 18th to January 21, 2016, 28 members of the Parish Pastoral Council attended the training session taking place at St. Joseph the Worker Sub-Parish. St. Joseph the Worker has 3,320 baptized Catholics, and 2,377 Catechumens. The Parish Priest is Reverend Monsignor Denis Chitete and is assisted by Reverend Fr. Joseph Moloka Sikwese. Reverend Monsignor Denis and Reverend Fr. Joseph serve many out-stations around St. Joseph the Worker. It is very mountainous, and the dirt roads can be difficult to pass.

On account of the vastness of the sub-parish and the poor roads it takes a long time for pastoral ministers to visit the people who are based in the rural out-stations. In the absence of priests it is the lay leaders who carry out pastoral activities. Of the 28 participants of the training session at St. Joseph the Worker, 16 were converts to the Catholic faith, representing about 57% of the participants. That is why the training of lay leaders is of great importance for them to gain confidence as they have acquired skills in Christian leadership and knowledge in the Catholic faith.

What Do the Participants from St. Joseph the Worker Say?

“I have learnt a lot of new things. This session has empowered me to evangelize more.” – Emmanuel Gondwe, Chairperson of Mpata Pastoral Zone

“This session is an eye-opener to me. I will have to play an active role in the mission and life of the Church.” –
Cecilia Mwanyongo, Chairperson of St. Anne’s LCC

“This training session has been very helpful.  I have learnt the importance of involving others in my ministry as a catechist.  For the mission of the Church to be fulfilled collaborative ministry is very necessary.” – Catechist Gondwe of St. Joseph Pastoral Zone

“I was not born a Catholic, I was converted by my husband, and now I’m a leader.  Through this training I have gained the confidence to be a leader.” – Anastazia Nagwebe, Chairperson of St. Michael’s LCC

“Many thanks to Catholic World Mission for their financial support to enable us to have this training. This is a very good training. It has empowered each one of us to evangelize.” – Cornelius Mwenetete, Chairperson of Mpata LCC

See more photos from St. Joseph the Worker below:

Training Pastoral Agents (Continued)

St. Anne's

What Do the Participants from St. Anne’s Say?

“The session is very good.  I have learnt that as a Christian, I have responsibilities in the Church. I have been empowered participate actively in the mission of evangelization.” – Thomas Mtonga, Chairperson of St. Anne’s Pastoral Zone.

“Before my baptism, I underwent the Catechumenate, but it was not enough. There were so many things I did not know.  This training workshop has been good, it has built confidence in me as a leader in the Church.” – Patrick Kanyimbo, Vice Chairperson of Wovwe Pastoral Zone

“What I can say about this training session is that it has added a lot of value on me as a leader and a Christian” – William Ng’ambi, Secretary of Mulowe LPC

“I am a convert from CCAP, and I did not understand much about the Catholic Church.  The training session has helped me to understand better the role of the laity in the Church and Society at large.” – Maria Kamanga, Treasurer of Mulowe Pastoral Zone

“This session has been very fruitful.  There are somethings as leader, I took them for granted, but now I will change for the better.  We need to be holding such sessions regularly, they will build a better church.” – Moses Nyirenda, Secretary of Hangalawe Zone

See more photos from St. Anne below:
St. Steven's

St. Steven’s Training Session

With the assistance of Catholic World Mission, St. Steven’s, located in the Diocese of Karonga, is carrying out training sessions for the lay leaders of the parish as well as the clergy to create a collaboration between the priests and lay pastoral agents. St. Steven’s training session in March 2016 brought 28 laity to the parish to learn how to efficiently and effectively carry out pastoral activities in the absence of clergy. They were taught catechesis and given materials to equip them to be better lay leaders in the church.

The unique feature of St. Steven’s Parish is that many people come to Church, but very few receive the Blessed Sacrament. It is not because many people are not baptized, but it is because either they just got married without blessing their marriage in the Church or they are polygamous. This is the reason why there is need to conduct on-going formation not only for leaders, but also for Christians at large. With training new lay leaders to evangelize, and spread the truth of the Gospels we know the light of Christ will prevail in the Diocese of Karonga.

What Do the Participants from St. Steven Say?

“I have learnt many things from this session.  The Church is not only the clergy, but all of us: Christians and clergy” – Silvia Ipopo, Treasurer of St. Kasantha Pastoral Zone.

“The session has been very fruitful. I have been touched by the emphasis on working collaboratively with priests.” – Jimmy Mwakafwila, Chairperson of Ngerenge Pastoral Zone.

 “I have been touched by the importance of being the light of the world and salt of the world.  I have been empowered to evangelise.” – Joseph Fiacara Mwenebabu, Secretary of St. Francis Fraternity

 “As a leader of the youths in our parish, I have been empowered to evangelise among the youths.” – Enock Mwambeye, Representing the Youths

 “I am a leader, but there were so many things I did not know about our great Church.  This session will help to be a better leader.” – Patrick Soko, Vice Chairperson of the Parish Pastoral Council

 “We have been working without terms of reference, but through this session we now have them, this gives us confidence.” – Gervazio Mwamulima, Treasurer of the Parish Pastoral Council

See more photos from St. Steven’s below:
St. Mary's

St. Mary’s Training Session

From January 15th to 18th St. Mary’s Parish hosted a training session for members of the Parish Pastoral Council to help strengthen the capacity of pastoral agents in order to have efficient and effective collaboration in their pastoral activities. All 30 members of their Parish Pastoral Council were in attendance! The Parish Pastoral Council was created because of the lack of priests in the Diocese of Karonga per parish.

Many parishes in the area expand into out-stations, St. Mary’s is divided into 16 out-stations over mountainous terrain. It is difficult for the priests to visit each church on a weekly basis. The Parish Pastoral Council is a collaboration between the laity and the priests to prepare members of the church for the sacraments and enable the laity to celebrate the Mass through communion services. The skills gained in the training sessions has enabled members of St. Mary’s to evangelize and teach the faith with confidence.

What Do Participants of St. Mary’s Say?

“I kept smiling during the session because the lessons are very impressive.  I have learnt about the importance of prayer life as a leader.  These sessions should continue.” – Denis Mwamulima, Vice Secretary of St. Anne’s Parish Pastoral Council.

“I have realised that there were so many things I did wrongly, this session has indeed being an eye opener.  I will do things better now.” – ​Silvester Mwenelupembe, Assistant Catechist

“This session is good. Now I know my terms of reference as a lay leader.” – Christina Winga, Treasurer of Lughali Pastoral Zone

“We were leaders without knowing what to do. It would be very important if this happened often times, and should be extended to all pastoral zonal leaders.” – Michael Mwalwanda, Chairperson of Lughali Pastoral Zone

“I feel empowered to evangelise.” – Martha Mwenegamba, Treasurer of Nchowo Pastoral Zone

See more photos from St. Mary’s Below:
Diocesan Council Training

St. Francis Shrine – Diocesan Laity Council Training Session

The training for the Diocesan Laity Council took place from April 4th to 8th, 2016 at St. Francis Shrine at Kaseye in St. Michael’s Parish. At the end of the training session, elections were conducted, and 10 members were elected into different positions. The training had 20 participants to teach them how to advise the local ordinary on pastoral issues concerning the laity. Training sessions were held on the organizational structure of the Church, Christian leadership skills, collaborative ministry, communication skills, rights and obligations of the laity, sacraments, and the liturgy. The Diocesan Laity Council helps to ensure active and effective participation of the laity within the Church at the diocesan level.


Summer 2019 – 288 more evangelizers set to receive training

Thanks to the generosity of a donor like you, 288 more pastoral agents will receive training at St. Mary’s parish. What an incredible gift to know that thousands more souls will hear the Good News of Christ because of the “yes” of donors like you and the “yes” of the soon-to-be-trained evangelizers!

Keep scrolling to see photos of the new church building St. Mary’s was able to dedicate…

Summer 2018 – St. Mary’s experiences the fruits of your generosity years later

Last summer, our friends at St. Mary’s dedicated a brand new church building! This is the same group of people you helped train as pastoral agents a few years ago. Isn’t it wonderful to see the fruits of your generosity expand and grow, years and years later? The Holy Spirit is truly alive and active at St. Mary’s in Malawi!

Check out the photos of their recent celebration:

How You Can Help

We Need Your Help

The main objective of this project is to strengthen the capacity of the pastoral agents in order to have efficient and effective collaboration in their pastoral activities. The Diocese of Karonga needs continued help in training lay people to be evangelizers for their faith. The mission allows the laity to carry on faith formation to prepare people for the sacraments, and the ability to live out their faith against the widespread beliefs of witchcraft, polygamy, and dignity of life.

You can help change their culture today to celebrate life, and the love of Jesus Christ through the support of this mission. The resources needed are very costly, and to have the laity stay at the church for a number of days means time away from work. This mission has been designed to train the new leaders so that they acquire technical, human, and conceptual skills in Christian leadership and knowledge in the Catholic faith to carry out the love of Jesus to all they encounter.

Will you be a light in Central Africa today?

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“Dear Young People… Do not be afraid to go and to bring Christ into every area of life, to the fringes of society, even to those who seem farthest away, most indifferent. The Church needs you, your enthusiasm, your creativity and the joy that is so characteristic of you.”
– Pope Francis, 28th World Youth Day, Waterfront of Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro
Sunday, 28 July 2013

Archdiocese of Blantyre


Their Story

The Church in Malawi is Alive!

The Archdiocese of Blantyre is planning to empower young adults to embrace their faith! Many young people in the archdiocese are enthusiastic to serve, but good will and enthusiasm are not enough to catechize everyone. The Archdiocese of Blantyre is ready to equip young people by investing the time and energy into training them in the faith. Young people are our most valuable asset to the Catholic Church and its future. Your financial investment in the future of the Church ensures a holier future.

“Dear young people, the Church expects great things of you and your generosity. Don’t be afraid to aim high.”

– Pope Francis, May 23, 2013

Young People

Young People

Reverend Father Frank Mwinganyama is the Youth Chaplin for the Archdiocese of Blantyre. He offers pastoral care to the youth in Blantyre’s eight deaneries, secondary schools, colleges, and to young people in the diocese. In the archdiocese alone there are approximately one and a half million practicing Catholics; half of whom are young people! Fr. Frank feels called to involve the young people in the church after hearing the Association of Member Episcopal Conferences in Eastern Africa (AMECEA) Assembly of Bishops share that the youth are the “hope and gift of the Church.” Fr. Frank agreed, “They are indeed the potential of not only the Church, but also society at large.”

The Archdiocese of Blantyre is hoping to train over 390 young people ages 18-30 to become dynamic leaders in the Church. The Archbishop Thomas Luke Msusa shares,

 “I wish to stress that indeed the youth in Malawi do make up nearly half of the general population and they are the majority in most of our Christian Churches today. Holistic development of the Church will only come about if we give the youth of the Church holistic training and formation. This is the very reason I support this noble project.”

For young people to be successful leaders in the church it is essential that they receive training and formation to deal with their current challenges and the challenges of the culture they live in. This is one of the first times the Catholic Church in Malawi will target young people, “So that they are well informed and prepared to challenge (these) negative forces in society.”  Fr. Frank shares that formation after young people receive the Sacrament of Confirmation is always done haphazardly. It is essential that our young people of the Church receive proper training, as they do not have the experience to form and challenge their conscience fully. Fr. Frank hopes that this training will bring up honest and truthful service to the Church amidst many challenges this age-group faces.

The Program

The Training Program

The program in the Archdiocese of Blantyre, Malawi will allow young people between 18 and 30 to learn their faith, study the catechism, and become leaders in the Church. The program will focus on three major topics: Know Your Bible, Know Your Church, and Leadership in the Church. The goal of the program is to give young people proper training to have basic knowledge of the Bible and the structure of both the local and universal Church, as well as general leadership skills. They will also be briefed on the Year of Mercy, and practical steps for implementing Pope Francis’ encyclical – ‘Laudato Si’ – on care of the environment.

Leadership training for the youth in the Archdiocese of Blantyre will be an investment that will benefit the Church in Blantyre in many ways. Some of the expected fruits of this leadership training are:

  • This will set the pace for leadership in the Church, rooted in the Bible.
  • Active involvement of the young people in Church affairs.
  • Trained young people will be informed evangelizers to fellow youth.
  • Our young people will discover their sense of belonging in the Church!
  • This will be the first stage in the formation of servant leaders for both church and society in Baltyre, Malawi.
  • Trained youth will have a deeper knowledge of Scripture and Church structure.

Flora Katsabola

Flora comes from a very devout Catholic family in the Zomba district. She is an exceptionally dedicated young woman who has fought hard to be where she is now. Flora represents the Young Christian Workers in Malawi. She is a representative at the regional Association of Member Episcopal Conferences in Eastern Africa (AMECEA) meetings in Lusaka Zambia. She is currently serving as Secretary of Young Christian Workers in Blantyre.

“We appreciate this program of training youth leaders. In fact, it should have been part of our on-going formation in Christian faith. We are aware there is a lot we need to know about our faith. In this training, the youth have deepened [their] knowledge of the Bible, Church doctrine, and acquired necessary leadership skills. Thumbs up our leaders and donors (Catholic World Mission) for this program.”

Cathy Maseko

Cathy comes from the remotest parish of the Archdiocese of Blantyre. To attend the leadership training in Limbe, Deanery she had to travel all the way from her rural parish by local bus – 80 miles away! Cathy was adamant about coming to bridge the gap between the Church and young people. She serves as the Deanery Secretary.

“I feel Youth formation should be on-going. As the youth are gradually taking up responsibilities in the Church they need to be equipped with the necessary knowledge. This is why I had to come all the way from Neno Parish to benefit from this leadership training. It was very fruitful.”

How You Can Help

The Need

The community has come forward to invest in what they can in their young people, but your generous support is still needed for the success of the Church in Africa! For this mission to be a success, the Church in Malawi needs funds to cover training materials for young people, funds to transport facilitators to the deaneries hosting the training, and to provide a meal for the participants who are becoming servant leaders for the Church! With a generous gift of $838 you can sponsor one entire training session and make a substantial investment in the future of the Church.

Won’t you help ignite the Holy Spirit in young people today?

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