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Institute for Pastoral Initiatives News

A historic day for Malawi

By John LeComte

History was made in Malawi with the ordination of Benedict Nyondo, the African country's first permanent deacon. 

The Institute for Pastoral Initiatives contributed a small part to this milestone. Nyondo completed 14 online courses with the Virtual Learning Community for Faith Formation as part of his continuing education. He started his online faith journey in 2017.

“The University of Dayton’s VLCFF introduced me to online studies and transformed me through the chats on the discussion boards with my fellow global students and facilitators,” Nyondo said. “The classes allowed for everybody to share their Catholic faith experiences.”

Nyondo admitted he never dreamed of becoming a deacon. As a young boy growing up in rural Malawi, Nyondo says he faced many challenges and struggles along the way, especially with education.

“In rural areas, the facilities for learning do not exist like in the urban areas of Malawi,” he said. “So, I struggled until I found a way to enter secondary school and that changed my life both economically and spiritually.”

Furthering his education allowed Nyondo to find a job, ironically as a teacher. Today, he’s teaching at St. Mary’s girls secondary school in the Diocese of Karonga, where his wife Martha serves as the headmistress.

“Being the first deacon in the country (some say for the entire Central Africa), people have high expectations in my ministry,” he said.  

The newly ordained deacon wants to encourage others in the diocese to take advantage of VLCFF online courses to strengthen their own faith and knowledge.

“The online classes enabled me to appreciate different cultures and the diversity of our Catholic faith,” Nyondo said. “So, I see a lot of challenges ahead as permanent deacon.”

The Nyondos have five children, all studying at the University of Malawi. The VLCFF last cycle of learning for 2022 will begin in October. See the course list. Our congratulations to Deacon Nyondo and the Karonga diocese.  

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